The Many Benefits of Ballet
Every mom of a little girl (or boy) has witnessed the unbelievable adorableness of toddlers adorning tutus and satin slippers, prancing awkwardly around the house in their best efforts to plie`, releve` and jete` like a real ballerina. For us, it started pretty young, our first trip to see The Nutcracker ballet was when our little girl was about 2. And she loved it, who wouldn't? Beautiful costumes, elegant scenery and feats of physical amazement, it's a wonderful story come to life!
Fast forward 2 years, and my precious ballerina was just cast as a Cookie, and an Angel, in her dance school's production of The Nutcracker. (Weeping in the background, I'm so proud!)
We chose to enroll our daughter in ballet class at a young age, though she wasn't the youngest, for a lot of reasons. The benefits and advantages have been countless, and we've loved every minute of it!
5 Reasons To Take Ballet
When your little one is showing interest in dancing, but you're not sure about committing to a weekly lesson, I would recommend taking a trial class. Some studios offer a free trial class, like Integral Ballet in Merrick, NY. We are so lucky to have found Ms. Erin and Integral, more about how awesome they are later...a trial lesson will allow you to find out if ballet class is right for you. But don't fret if it doesn't go well, take a break and try again later!
We tried a class when our ballerina was 2, but it proved to be too early for her. So we stopped, and started again a year later and haven't looked back since. She has gained so much from ballet class. Here are just a few of the amazing benefits of ballet class for kids:
1. Discipline & Following Instructions
Whether it's learning ballet steps, or waiting patiently for your turn, ballet class is a great place to reinforce discipline and following instructions. Kids naturally crave structure and routine. When we go to class, we know that first we put on our ballet shoes, then we read a book until the class is ready. Next, we do warm-ups, followed by a series of mini lessons that integrate learning new moves and practicing already learned moves with fun props like scarves and tambourines. While all of this is going on, the teacher is giving detailed instructions about where hands should be, and feet should be, and what the moves are called. She is also reminding them to pay attention (to find out what's next), be aware of their space (so as to not run into other kids) and look how great they are doing!
Any form of physical activity is good in my book! And we know that at least once a week, for one hour, we get some great exercise. This is especially helpful during the colder months when we aren't playing outside. When we are not in ballet class, we like to put our favorite ballet performances on the TV at home, so we can imitate ballerinas like Odette The Swan Princess and Sugarplum Fairies. We love to watch how graceful they are, and marvel at their skills as they dance on pointe! It really is amazing. And we have learned a great appreciation for ballerinas' athletic abilities.
3. Balance & Coordination
Young kids can be especially uncoordinated, as they learn about what their bodies can do. The different ways we can move, what it feels like to stretch and how much fun it can be! Ballet is great for developing coordination and balance. Also, ballet develops physical strength and agility. Ballet takes a lot of practice and athleticism, some ballerinas train and practice 6-7 hours a day, 6 days a week! They really are amazing athletes.
4. Understanding Music & Rhythm
Music has always been a big part of our daily lives. We love to sing and dance along, and ballet class is no exception! Learning how to feel the beat of the music, and dance rhythmically to it, is an excellent skill to develop. Ms. Erin plays wonderful songs during class, and some from our favorite Ballets. Something special happens when you can feel the rhythm of a song, and move to it. Our little ballerina has developed a love of movement, so much so that when certain songs come on, she jumps up and just has to dance! I am confident that this basic internalization of song cadence and structure will help in so many other areas of learning.
5. Self Confidence
Nothing builds self confidence like making new friends, and being part of a team. Working together to perform a routine with other ballerinas teaches teamwork, cooperation and communication. And as we learn with friends, we can overcome shyness and anxiety. It also reduces fears of being in a group, or performing in front of an audience. For us, our ballerina went from hiding behind my knee when class started, to running into the studio, super excited to start dancing. And the process of learning a routine throughout the year and performing the final recital has allowed her to understand commitment and hard work. But the most important part for us has been to have fun! When ballet class becomes a stressful situation for ballerina and mommy, surrounded by apprehension and anxiety, it may be time to take a break. Just as the positive effects of ballet class can be carried throughout life, a good amount of negative experiences can become detrimental.
When we are young, learning is easier and faster. Classical ballet classes teach foundations needed for lots of other aspects of life. Whether it's other types of dance like jazz or tap, or socializing in school, life is easier for kids when they go into new situations with pre-developed coping skills. Ballet class is a fun place to learn so many important lessons, and we are so grateful that we found Integral Ballet in Merrick, NY. A beautiful studio with all the equipment and props needed for some seriously fun ballet. We are excited to start Level 1 ballet classes with Ms. Erin, she is amazing! I am in awe of her talent and organization, she teaches with firmness and warmth, and she treats the kids like little ballerinas! She has high expectations for them, and it shows as we watch them blossom throughout the year. Thank you Ms. Erin! Check out Integral Ballet in Merrick, NY here:
Whatever you decide, keep in mind that it may take a few tries to find the right place. And it make take some time for your little ballerina to feel completely comfortable there. But if you are having fun, chances are, they will to. No dance-mama drama necessary. Thanks for exploring the benefits of ballet class with me, and I will leave you with this:
Diapers and Dogfood Blog
I'm Jen, mama to the most incredibly adorable pumpkin in the world. Please allow me to share my experiences about life, and running to the store for diapers & dog food. All. The. Time.