Insights from Last Week

I had some great insights in my classes last week that I wanted to share with you!

First, I realized that 1 hour per week is simply not enough to train a budding ballerina! I’ve been working with one of my students for about 6 weeks now, and I simply love how willing she is to work hard at improving her ballet technique. Yet, every class we had together felt so very rushed to me! In each of her classes, I’ve been including floor barre, barre, center, and traveling exercises, and though I’ve written and re-written her classes several times to try to make everything fit better, it simply wasn’t working out. So I spoke to her and her parents about it, and we all agreed that it would be best to not only extend her class time to 90 minutes per class, but also to increase the number of classes she has per week! I’m so excited to begin this new system, where we won’t feel pressured to skip exercises and shorten explanations, all for the sake of time! Now, with 3 hours of training per week, I know we’re going to make great things happen for her!

A ballet dancer doing barre work.

Second, I learned a new trick for getting my youngest ballerina babies to really use the brushing movement of their front leg when doing grands jetés! Many of my young Creative Movement students also take gymnastics classes, so, even at only 4 and 5 years old, they are more aware of how to use their bodies than the average young dancer. This is really helpful for me as a dance teacher. We usually do leaps over colorful noodles at the end of our 45-minute classes. Two weeks ago, I began having them jump over colorful yoga blocks, positioned so that the students have to jump higher to get over them.

Yoga Blocks on

This was great to have them understand the feel of really using their pliés to really get off the floor and into the air.  Last week, I wanted them to really start brushing and extending their leg in the air for a greater amount of time. I stared at those foam boxes for a few moments, and it finally came to me: I needed to have them start their jumps farther away from the item they were hurdling! To do this, I needed to have them jump over more than one item.  So I started putting my foot in front of the foam boxes.  This forced them to do several things:

  1. They had to run really fast to gain enough speed to start their jumps farther back.
  2. They had to focus on the actual jump more to make sure they wouldn’t trip over my foot or knock over the foam box.
  3. They had to really throw their leg up in front of them and extend it to get over more than one item.

Still, a few students were afraid to really commit to the jump.  The greater distance required to leap over 2 items was a bit intimidating to them, so they would do half-run, half-skip sort of thing up to my foot, then sort of pretend to jump over my foot and the block one at a time. I can remember having some of the same fears when I was their age.  I think some of my biggest fears were the vault and running and jumping into a forward roll in gymnastics practice. Maybe in the coming weeks, I’ll move away from improving technique and place more attention on dispelling fears.  :)

I’m having so much fun working as a dance educator, and I can’t wait for all the new discoveries I will make as I continue this work that I love!

Always Planning for the Future

A toe rise, performed during an acro dance.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

As always, I’m already thinking ahead to things that I want to do with Dance Daze in the future!  I’m not going to share all of my latest ideas with you (because what would be the fun in that?!), but I will share a few.

First, I’ve decided that we will be having a special Family and Friend Observation Day at Dance Daze at the end of the Fall Term.  Our students have been working (and getting worked!) so hard, and I’m sure they would love to show off some of what they have been learning.  I envision this Observation Day being a performance-style class demonstration, where the students will be able to show off their newly gained skills and improved technique.  This format will also help them further develop their performance qualities to prepare us for spring and fall performances in 2011.  The performance will be open to all family and friends of students, as well as to the communities of Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Oakland, and the greater East Bay.  Look out for more information about this Observation Day coming up next month.

Here is an example of what a Class Demonstration can look like:

Second, I’d soon like to offer both a Pre-Professional Program and a Recreational Program to meet the needs of all our students.  The Pre-Professional Program will be for students who wish to pursue a professional career in dance, have a strong passion for the art, and wish to commit to additional hours of training in order to further develop their technique and skills.  There will be a required number of classes for each level of the Pre-Professional Program.  The Recreational Division will be for students who want to dance for fun, increased strength, health, and confidence-boosting, with no desire to pursue a professional career. The Recreational Division will have a suggested number of classes for each level. Entrance into the Pre-Professional Program will occur only by audition or Instructor Recommendation.

Third, I’d like to increase the length of our ballet classes for the Pre-Professional Program!  For classes offered to children ages 9 and up, I would like each class to be 90 minutes.  This means you or your children will be getting an extra 30 minutes of training in each class, for the same price! I think that with all of the information students receive in each class, it simply makes sense to increase the length of class time, so that they actually have a chance to let the information sink in and to ask more questions.  One-hour classical ballet classes are simply too rushed!

That’s all for now!  Thoughts or questions?  LET US KNOW! Drop us a comment on this blog, or email us at DanceDaze1[at]gmail[dot]com!

By the way, make sure you’re following us on Facebook to keep up with the day-to-day happenings at Dance Daze!

Saumirah (Dance Daze Founder and Director)

October Updates

dance group en 2

Hey Everyone!

I hope this month has been treating you well!  We’ve made a few updates to the Dance Daze sites recently, and I want to share them with you!

  1. We added more information about the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum we implement in our ballet classes on our About Page.
  2. We created a brand new YouTube account, and we will use it to showcase our work and performances!  (Yes, that means, with your permission and consent, YOU may be featured in a video on the Dance Daze YouTube Channel!
  3. We added some convenient social networking buttons at the top right column, so you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube more easily!
  4. We categorized our links at the bottom right of the page and added more links for local dance supply stores so you know where to shop for appropriate dance attire and shoes!
  5. We made HUGE changes to our Class Descriptions Page in order to give you a better idea of what type of vibe, energy, and overall classroom environment to expect in each class!
  6. We added a Notes Tab to our Facebook Page, so you can now view all of our most recent blogs there, if you’re more of a Facebook person than a regular website person!

In other news, we’re happy that we’ve been getting a lot of inquiry about our classes! Our street sign on Foothill Blvd. is getting noticed!  Also, we are VERY excited that we’ve started teaching an after-school Hip Hop Dance program at an elementary school in Hayward! We love being able to bring our dance program into the community and deepen our connection with our students and their families!

We look forward to seeing you in class soon!