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dance classes for kids

Dance Classes for Kids: Everything a Parent Needs to Know

Dance classes offer kids offer a perfect opportunity for creative expression and being physically active. Dance is a form of cardiovascular exercise while also offering people an outlet for emotions and feelings. This is what makes it such a popular choice for parents who want to enroll their children in an enrichment program. 

Dance studios are starting to welcome back kiddos for the fall, so we have put together a guide with everything you need to know to get started. If you’ve been looking for a great creative outlet for your little ones, we are here to help you find great dance classes in Seattle and the surrounding area.

There are 6 Main Types of Dance Classes in Seattle

Let’s start with the basics and dive into the different types of dance available for children.

1. Tap 

Tap is a lively and animated type of dance that is a percussive style. It was a cross between different African and Irish dance forms that started in the United States in the early 19th century. Using special tap shoes with metal on the bottoms, the dancers move their feet and it creates a tapping sound that acts as an instrument. This form of dance helps teach children timing and rhythm.

2. Ballet

This classic form of dance originated during the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century. It’s elegant and involves a lot of beautiful, flowing movements. Ballet helps improve balance and flexibility in dancers. It also helps introduce the French language with the instructions and names of the different movements. Children who enjoy ballet can move into pointe as they improve for additional instruction and advancement.

3. Hip-Hop

Hip-hop dancing began in the 1960s and ‘70s and incorporated different tap, swing and modern dance moves. It involves more complex movements, floorwork and tricky footwork. It is great for older kids because it’s more difficult than some of the classic dance styles. Any hip-hop dancers that want to advance can move into breakdancing which incorporates different gymnastics moves and martial arts. 

4. Jazz

This type of dance is upbeat and energetic. Its history can be traced back to different ritual and ceremonial dances in African cultures. The main elements include precise movements of the legs, arms and feet, technical jumps and twists and specific isolation movements. Most modern jazz dances use pop music as the soundtrack. You might even see a little improvisation in this genre. It’s definitely one of the most popular choices for dance class.

5. Contemporary

Some dance studios offer a contemporary dance program and it’s usually a blend of the others. The choreography tries to dive into the meaning of the music a little more so the dance can express more emotions behind the songs. It builds strength and flexibility in the dancers with such a range of moves. It’s also a great discipline builder with the importance of the choreography and the required memorization of the different parts.

6. Ballroom

Ballroom dancing refers to any recreational dance that is done with a partner. There are many different forms of ballroom dancing including the Waltz, Tango, Mambo, Jive and many more. It has been made popular over the years thanks to different social events that encourage partner dancing and by televised competitions like Dancing With the Stars and different dancesport competitions. 

How to Choose Which Type of Dance

Now that you have a little information on the different types of dance, you might be wondering where to start a brand new dancer. Ballet is the most common suggestion because it is a little slower and practices a variety of different movements and control. It helps build a foundation of discipline. 

It’s completely OK to start a child in any of the different types of dance unless a studio requires a prerequisite for a certain program. You could show your child some different videos and see what they get excited about learning. Different energy levels can factor into your decision as well since jazz and hip-hop are a little more high energy.

ballet dance classes

What Age Should My Child Start Dance Classes?

There is no wrong answer to this question. Children can begin dancing at any point in their lives. With toddlers, there are usually some classes available where they can pick up some basic coordination skills. Most studios start at three because kids are usually potty trained and able to follow along with basic instructions.

The most common place to begin is the early elementary age. Children between 5 and 8 years old are able to begin to memorize routines and learn techniques. This is a good age if you think your child will want to perform in recitals or competitions down the road.

Older children are also able to excel at dance and it provides them with a good physical outlet. Some studios sort students by skill level so dancers that begin when they are older may be placed with younger students at the beginning. If that’s something you’re concerned about, talk with different studios and know all your options.

Benefits of Dance Classes

Any type of dance class will offer some incredible benefits for children of all skill levels. The exercise alone is beneficial for cardiovascular health, lung capacity and muscle building. These items help with sleep, digestion, energy levels and flexibility. 

In addition to the great physical benefits, dance also helps children learn a new form of creative expression. It develops creative thinking and memory skills. It will also help with the child’s confidence as they work to perform in front of others and advance.

Participating in a group dance class helps with social growth as well because dance is both an individual and group activity. Students learn the dances and perform with their classmates, but they are responsible for their own movements.

Other Considerations

Starting kids in a dance class is pretty easy. It really just requires some comfortable clothes to move in and shoes that match the type (or none at all). The clothing can be a leotard, leggings, t-shirts, shorts or anything that is comfortable. For shoes, it’s best to check with the instructor for the class you selected. Some studios require specific shoes and others are more relaxed about it.

As your child advances, there may be situations where you need to pay for specific costumes or competition fees as well as continuing to purchase new shoes and practicewear as your child grows. The costs associated can vary depending on the level and how many competitions your dance studio partakes in.

What To Look for in a Class

Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few studios or programs, we recommend asking just a few more questions when you contact them to get the full picture and make the best choice for your child.

  • Does the studio participate in competitions or is it purely recreational?
  • Is there an end of the year recital for people to watch what the dancers have practiced?
  • How big are the classes?
  • What is the student/teacher ratio?
  • Can you and your child observe a class before signing up?

Places Offering Dance Classes  for Kids (Paid posts)

American Dance Institute

American Dance Institute offers dance classes for toddlers through adults in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, Irish, flamenco, creative dance, and pre-ballet. Birthday party packages are available for ages 3 and up. Convenient locations in Greenwood, Wedgewood, Shoreline, and Magnolia. ADI is a family-friendly school that teaches to the whole child in a warm and welcoming environment.

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