When I was little, I did all things sports. My big sister on the other hand (who was and still is my idol:-) got all the dance genes. She was a gymnast, cheerleader, prom queen – pretty much everything a girl aspires to be. Lucky for me I am ten years younger, there was no jealousy at all in my house, just pure idolization. So when I started my after school activities, I quickly realized that I had no hope as a dancer, cheerleader, gymnast or anything like that. Initially I was bummed that I could not be just like my sister. But I eventually embraced the fact that I am sporty spice. I fell in love with soccer and found my niche.
My 9-year-old daughter is 100% her aunt – she’s petite, super coordinated, smart and looks just like her favorite auntie, it’s crazy! So dance naturally came into my world and it’s looking like it’s here to stay. I have to be honest, I have NO CLUE what I’m doing! I am always asking my dance mom friends for advice. So I asked the expert staff at Jami Masters School of Dance to give us some tips, particularly for the moms who weren’t dancers but are raising dancers. That would be MOI!
What I love about Jami Masters School of Dance (JMSD) is that there is no pressure. There are dancers of all shapes and sizes and they can grow at their own pace. If they aspire to compete, that track is available with her company dancers starting in 6th grade. If that is not for your child, that’s perfectly fine too. There is a class for everyone. The philosophy at JMSD is to instill the love of dance and take that to whatever level your child wants. This makes me happy!
The one thing I know for sure is that you always want your child to take ballet as they grow. So in the early days, you typically start with a combo class of some sort. When do you branch out and take technique classes? What do you take first? When should you take hip hop? My questions are endless!
Here is what Jami’s staff suggests:
At age three, you begin with an introduction to dance with Ballet/Tap, Ballet/Acro, or Tumbletots for 45 minutes per week. It is important that children ages 2-5 are in a program that emphasizes the fun of moving by exposing them to music and movement allowing them to learn some basic ballet and tap steps in a fun way. For the 4’s, you continue with Ballet/Tap or Ballet/Tap/Acro, bumping up to 45 minutes to one hour per week. For K/5’s, you take Ballet/Tap or Ballet/Acro for one hour per week. In 1st/2nd grade, this is when you start exposing your dancers to several different dance styles with a Ballet/Tap/Jazz combination class for one hour per week. Keep in mind, a good studio will use proper terminology, be certain the students are using correct body placement, and teach musicality.
Moving into 3rd-5th grade – this is where the dancers become a little more serious. You begin to focus more in-depth on specific technique: ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. This is when you might want to consider two classes per week, for 45 minutes to one hour per style per week. It is important to continue with ballet as this will give a strong foundation for any other dance style, adding other styles if desired.
For 6th-8th grade – Students should take several different classes per week (75-90 minutes each), 2 ballet, 1 modern, 1 tap, 1 jazz/lyrical. This will give them the skills to be a well-rounded dancer, and prepare them to audition for JMSD companies. High School – Company members take 5-10 classes per week in ballet, pointe, tap, modern, jazz/lyrical. Students often focus on one particular technique while continuing to study other styles. Classes at all levels should continue to emphasize proper terminology, body placement, and musicality.