Choosing between ballet and combination dance class for young children
By Adrienne Warber
When you are searching for a ballet class for your young child between the ages of 3 and 7 years old, you will find that many studios offer opportunities to learn ballet through a ballet creative movement class or a combination ballet and tap class. All of these classes introduce dance in a way that helps develop motor skills, coordination and rhythm in fun combinations developed for younger children. Choosing between a combination ballet and tap dance class or a ballet class often depends on your child’s individual interests and the classes available in your area.
Ballet Classes for Young Children
Ballet classes for younger children tend to be called creative movement, and introduce the basic ballet positions and steps, in a way that will engage a small child’s imagination and attention. Children learn to recognize and follow rhythm and music tempo. The teachers will often use imaginative play concepts during stretching and ballet exercises. For example, children may pretend to be different animals while performing a combination of ballet steps. Props like masks or puppets may also be used for an exercise.
The main advantage of an all ballet class is the fact that your child will be learning ballet fundamentals for the entire class, which is often 45 to 60 minutes of dance. A child taking an entire class devoted to ballet will progress in ballet faster than one taking a combination ballet and tap class, which splits the time between two forms of dance.
Combination Ballet and Tap Classes for Young Children
Combination ballet and tap dance classes for young children are quite popular in dance studios because many young children respond well to tap dance. The pretty tap shoes, loud tapping, and lively music often easily engages the attention of young children first learning dance. Tap also provides a valuable lesson in learning rhythm, and works well with ballet in developing coordination and motor skills.
Combination ballet and tap dance classes also use imaginative play to teach ballet and tap steps. Instructors teach dance combinations in a fun manner that may involve pretending or play. Tumbling and some basic gymnastic concepts like cartwheels may also be a part of a combination dance class.
The classes are usually evenly split between ballet and tap. A 60-minute class will have 30 minutes of ballet and 30 minutes of tap. It is worth noting that some studios that offer combination classes focus more on tap, and only offer tap recitals in combination ballet and tap classes. A combination class can provide a good dance foundation for the future study of either ballet or tap.
Choosing Between a Ballet Class or Combination Dance Class
When you are selecting a dance class for your child, you want to find the studio and class that best meets your child’s needs. Consider the following when choosing between a ballet class or combination ballet and tap class for your young child:
- Class size: Younger children learn best in smaller dance classes where they can get individual attention and correction from teachers. If your child’s class is larger than 12 students, there should be two dance instructors in the class to give each child enough guidance to learn dance steps well. Classes with more than 20 students are not recommended.
- Curriculum: The dance class can be creative movement, fun, and still introduce dance fundamentals. Observe a class or two to see what the teachers are teaching. This will also allow you to see how your child responds to the class. Make sure a combination class teaches both ballet and tap equally.
- Goals: If you want your child to primarily learn ballet, you may want to start them with a ballet creative movement class rather than a combination class. If you are mostly interested in your child taking tap in the future, the combination class is the best introduction to tap dance.
- Studio: Are you willing to travel around until you find the right dance studio? The closest studio to your house may not always be the best fit. Shop around until you find the dance studio that provides the atmosphere and classes that best meet your child’s needs.
A child can learn the fundamental concepts of dance well from either a combination ballet and tap class or an all ballet class, if it is taught well. Ultimately, it is your child’s interest in dance that will determine if a combination dance class or an all ballet class is best.