Which type of dance is best for a toddler?
For our series Ask A Dance Teacher, we asked dance teacher Johanna Hadley some common questions about ballet training.
Our question was, “Which type of dance is best for a toddler?”
One of the most important factors for a very young dancer is the development of basic skills. Classes for this age group should emphasise the fundamental movements (walking, running, skipping), spatial awareness, imagination, development of musical and rhythmical awareness, and motor skills and proprioception in a fun and friendly environment.
Dance for toddlers shouldn’t be too formalised – but don’t fall into the trap of keeping your child in fun, playful classes if you’re wanting them to progress when they’re older. When they reach about school age, check you’re at a dance school that can offer structured classes with a clearly defined progression through the school. On many occasions, I’ve seen children who have remained in playful classes for too long, and they struggle to adapt to more formal classes when they’re older. They then risk having to be taken back to basics at an age when they should be progressing.
If you’re taking your child to, for example, a toddler ballet class and they’re not too keen on it, don’t let this put you off taking them to a ballet class when they’re older. The skills and imaginative play, mimes etc. they practice in a toddler ballet class differ greatly from what they’ll learn when they’re older. After all, ballet is a profession and not something only done by young children.
Don’t worry too much about the type of dance class you take your toddler to – even a music and movement class not linked to any specific dance genre will be beneficial. If your child is moving, having fun and developing basic skills, then the class is giving them the perfect preparation to dance.
Johanna Hadley is a fully qualified dance teacher at the Janet Lomas School of Dancing in Bury, Lancashire.
She regularly teaches children from beginner to advanced levels, with students gaining places at some of the UK’s top full-time ballet schools.
Her Silver Swans® ballet class have been widely featured on TV, radio and in national newspapers.