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For the Love of Dance

Dear new dance parents,

So a new year has started, bringing with it fresh excitement and possibilities.

If your child is beginning dance classes this year then chances are you are up to your eyeballs in new dance shoes, leotards, bun-makers and a myriad of other dance paraphernalia (depending on the style of dance your little one is doing.)

Sometimes it can be easy to get swept up in all the excitement and forget about your child’s long-term physical and emotional experience within dance.

Today they are at the beginning of their dance journey. One day they will be at the end of it.

3Obviously, dance can be a stressful and highly competitive world and I’d like to see more girls and boys reaching the end of their dance training feeling positive and proud, remembering dance as something that made them feel good about themselves, rather than feeling inadequate and riddled with bodily comparisons.

How you as a parent approach your child’s dance experience from the early years onwards can have a big impact on this. So let’s set them up, as best we can, to feel good about their dancing. Let’s start with a good, healthy dose of dance for fun, love and expression.

Some of my suggestions are:

Firstly, try to choose a studio who values the love of the art over perfection. Many wonderful dance schools out there do a fabulous job of promoting personal growth in their students, discouraging classroom comparisons and encouraging the love of the art, musicality, and expression without compromising on correct technique. Those are the schools for your little darlings. You can usually get a feel for the values of a school by sitting in on a class.

Be careful with how you talk about dance. Choose your words well. Avoid using the “P” word. Saying something is “perfect” puts a huge amount of pressure on a child. Let’s face it, there’s really nowhere to go but down if you get told you’re already perfect and aiming for perfection at such a young age is fairly nauseating. So yeah, let’s just leave the “P” word out of it.

Focus on their enjoyment of dance more than their ability. You don’t need to tell them they need to focus on getting better. If they love dance, they will continue to dance and, with their teacher’s guidance, will naturally progress to be the best they can possibly be.

After class, ask them holistic questions about how the class was:

Did you have fun?”

What was your favourite part?”

Was the music pretty/awesome/fun?”

How did the music feel?”

Would you like to show me anything you learned?”

Then at home, if they do want to show you something they learned, be engaged about it. Make yourself a cuppa and settle in to adore this mini-performance with all your heart. Show them you love it. Don’t talk about mistakes. Even ask them to teach you what they learned. Have fun with it.

If they see you having fun with it, then guess what they are going to to? Yep! They’re going to have fun with it too.

Finally, if your darling should make mistakes whether they are in class or on stage this year (or any year), hold them tight and tell them they are brave for trying and continuing. Tell them this moment will pass and you are very proud of them for all they have done and are doing.

Okay mums and dads, welcome to the world of dance-parents. May the bobby pins be with you.

Bush xxx

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Urban Dance Just Blew My Mind

So, if I had a mini crush on Ski Ballet, then I have fallen head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight, in love with Urban Dance!

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. This is about as street dance as I get. (The street dance part is me rocking the hoodie)

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So, I’m clearly no expert. Everything I am writing on this post is just my opinion about this group of dancers.

I had NO idea what was coming when I typed “Urban Dance” into YouTube. A little while couple of hours later, and I’m all like “Get me to Germany, man! No I can’t dance, but damn, I wanna go and watch and absorb!”

These dancers are ah-maze-ing! They are a bunch of dance artists who perform on their own and together, and they put on these incredible Urban Dance Camp workshops each year — in a different country each year (this year they are meeting in Germany!). They are focused on studio styles and street styles. I think this means they basically include everything? From what I gather, studio styles are choreographed when perhaps the street styles aren’t? I’m not 100% clear on this though, and there does seem to be routines that are choreographed but contain many different styles.

They use popping, crunching, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, dubstep (no, I didn’t just make that up), and a whole lot of types of street dance that I don’t know the names of — I tried to find out what they were, I really did!

Some of the routines contain a huge amount of classy swagger, like these two. I LOVE these routines. CANNOT get enough.

This one is danced by Keone and Mariel Madrid, and it makes my heart sway…

And this one is danced by Hilty and Bosch and man have they got some swagger!

Some performances use great costumes, adding to the characters in the dance. This surprised me. I wasn’t expecting characters or a story in these dances at all. It makes them so much more enjoyable to watch and gives them a lot more depth.

They use fantastic music, which they match with their fantastic musicality. They are just all round incredible dancers. Technically great and original.

Are you feeling the love yet? No? Need more convincing? Okay, here ya go then…

Keone and Mariel Madrid again but in a sexy street/contemporary (streetemporary?) dance…

And last but oh so not least, the first Urban Dance video I ever watched. The one that started it all. A performance by Nonstop (Marquese Scott) and Poppin’ John. You’re welcome 🙂 …

You can find many more awesome videos of these dancers on YouTube. And I will be adding these videos to a new “Dance Inspiration” page for future reference.

I hope some day I can delve further into these guys and gals. I’d love to know how and why they all started. And how Urban Dance Camp came into being. And I would really love to attend a workshop to just watch and absorb. So inspired!

I would love to hear from everyone, what other forms of dance you have tried, outside of ballet? Or are you a ballet purist?

I’d sign off by saying, “Now go crunch and pop something”, but just in case any of you see that and think of eating crisps and popcorn, I will sign off with…

So, go fall into the dance form that you love, disappear, and then find yourself. 🙂

Bush