3 benefits of dance that are more valuable than any trophy

Choreography by Rae

Dance Your Dreams

3 benefits of dance that are more valuable than any trophy

By dancers & choreographyer Ms. Rae

I once had an amazing mom tell me that she did not put her children in dance class to become great dancers. This sentiment I was very used to hearing since Choreography by Rae offers recreational dance classes. We don’t enter competitions and use trophies to support a belief that we are the best. We don’t offer a pre-professional dance track. We dance for a lot of reasons and each move is executed with the idea that we all want to be a better version of ourselves. I strongly believe in pursing being better over being the best. Why? Because Better is constantly improving. The Best is a finite state, and that title can be taken away at any moment. As dancers we should always be on a track of constantly improving.

So why did this mom enroll her 3 children? Unlike my parents who sought a form of physical exercise for her kids, this mom had a different plan. She wanted her children to learn self-discipline. At that moment I realized exactly what I wanted to teach moving forward. I no longer had to worry about whether I was in the know on the hottest new dance moves. I decided to refocus my dance classes on strengthening more than just the body. My student would focus on three of the skills that contribute to being a better person: Self Discipline, Commitment, Team Work

In dance we focus on building Self Discipline, Commitment, andTeam Work. Three skills that contribute to being a better person.

Self-Discipline

I meet a lot of musicians and martial artists who are intimidated by dance, but dance has a lot in common with these other art forms. The instrument for the dancer is the body. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get the body to do what you want it to do. I met a dancer once who’s had physical limitations that affected her sense of balance and memory. Her self-discipline when performing was evident in every move she made. Dancing can be hard, but when we remember what we are striving for then we accept that falling and failing is part of the process towards success. I always tell my students to find one thing to focus on. Find one thing that you will be good at for the day. In this post multitasking, smart phone world the idea of focusing on just 1 thing seems impossible. The great thing about dance is anything is possible.

The great thing about dance is anything is possible.

Commitment

This is probably the one area that parents struggle with more than the students. In most cases, it is the parent who is responsible for making sure that their child makes it to class on time. It is the parent who is responsible for ensuring their child that it is okay to commit to something they enjoy. In New York City there are a ton of activities other than kids dance classes that compete for children’s time. There’s a misconception that your child will miss out if they don’t try every interest while they are still young. Having lots of interest isn’t bad, but an inability to commit to something because of the desire to try it all can have unexpected repercussions. When a student tries hops around among various activities without committing learning more about the art form, they are missing out on learning more about themselves. No child should be forced to stay in a class they don’t enjoy, but they should be allowed to develop a healthy understanding of what it is that they do enjoy. The “this was fun, now let’s try something else,” attitude can lead to a desire to constantly seek gratification by what pleases us in the moment. Ever date someone who you got along fine with, but they just couldn’t commit? Ever date someone who ran for the hills, at the first sign of a disagreement? Commitment doesn’t just make us better dancers, it makes us better in all areas of our lives.

Because Choreography by Rae offers recreational kids dance classes in New York City, a lot of our students have schedules that are far busier than most adults that I know. The students that get the most of class are the one’s that: tried it, liked it, and committed to getting the most out of it for the semester or school year. These are the kids who hate being sick when it’s time to go to class. They hate it when the studio closes for a holiday. Sure these kids have had moments in class where they don’t feel like following instructions or trying the combination “one more time.” That’s normal, the same way as adults sometimes we just don’t feel like working. These students understand that they have made not just a commitment of time but a commitment to trust that themselves more.

When our dancers find they are ready to go pursue other activities, the students that were committed, are the one’s that we know will leave with a healthy belief in their own abilities, a healthy relationship with dance, and a desire to really commit to that new activity. Basically we are high fiving that awesome person as they head off to embark on a new adventure.

No child should be forced to stay in a class they don’t enjoy, but they should be allowed to develop a healthy understanding of what it is that they do enjoy.”

Team Work

I love my smart phone. I can get a lot done while traveling between lessons. I find it hard to imagine my life without a smart phone. Strangely enough, I did survive life before I had a smartphone and even before I had a cell phone. There is a generation growing up that has never known life without a smart phone or the internet. They don’t have to go to the library to research something or ask an elder for a recipe. They can Google it. Entire dinners are eaten in homes, where kids are on their phones instead of talking with whoever is at the dinner table. While smart phones are used as a teaching tool in our classes (we offer class tips and videos via the Azagi mobile app), students must talk to each other to learn the movements. There’s no “Like” button to click on. We must applaud one another to show our appreciation of the hard work our classmates have put in. It’s not uncommon where I get a student who is used to receiving a lot of praise at home for their dance ability. These students are ready to kill it on the dance floor and they are always taken aback when I challenge them to show off while being apart of a team. Why am I so cruel? Whether their future lies in performing on concert stages or running a Fortune 500 company, they are going to need to learn to work with other people. They are going to need to be able to accept ideas from others and to work with the flaws of others. They are going to need to want success for themselves and for the group. You can Google empathy, but to understand it you must experience it and that is what working as a team in a recreational dance class can provide.

Like this post? Vehemently disagree? Let me know on Facebook.

Want to read more more great thoughts on dance? Check out this fun blog post by blogger New Jersey’s Progressive Dance Studio: I don’t Pay for Dance Class

"Amazing class. My son enjoyed learning new dance choreography. Rae is very good with her students."
Angela Clemmons
parent of (Jayden, 10 years)

Dance for Preschoolers: Creative Movement vs Ballet, where to begin

Choreography by Rae

Dance Your Dreams

Creative Movement vs Ballet, where to begin?

a thought on dancing by Rae of Choreography by Rae®

Your child loves boogie to the beat. You’re thinking that maybe it’s time for your 4 or 5 year old to try their first dance class. Having taught dance to both children and adults, I’ve seen how a parent’s decision to make a child’s first dance class a ballet class, can lead to a negative outlook on dance as an adult. You might think that I’m crazy. “What’s with this woman?! I took ballet growing up and I loved it!” Good. I’m glad you loved ballet. I love ballet and still take classes when I can. It’s an art form that dates back to the 1400’s and it forms the foundation for many contemporary dance styles today. Ballet is beautiful. Unfortunately, ballet classes are not for everyone. Part of the problem is how American’s view ballet. The other part of the problem is how we teach ballet.

Ballet gets a bad rap.

When the first Ballet school was formed in France, it was created with the understanding that the students would study the art form with the goal of embarking on careers dancing in the King’s court.

Young Dancers stretch their bodies and their imaginations.

Ballet was not a hobby and many ballet schools in Europe and the U.S. still use this philosophy in their dance training. Students are expected to study until they either have a successful career or prove that they are not suitable for a ballet career. There is nothing wrong with training for a career on the ballet stage. Many of my private students have chosen this path. It takes a lot of hard work and self discipline. The problem is that at age 4 or 5 your child might not know what they want to do when they are 20 or 25. I’ve worked with a lot of adults who started ballet when they were young and “forced” to continue until they were a teenager. By this time they either lost their love for ballet or convinced their parents that they would never be on the ballet stage. It’s hard spending years studying a dance style just to please your parents.

Parents aren’t the only problem. Teachers fixated on creating the strongest dancers, can sometimes kill the passion a child has for ballet. As teachers we all want the best for our students and wouldn’t it be cool to be “that teacher” who contributes to the professional careers of many dance stars. If you are 4 years old then part of the appeal of dance is that movement is fun. Things become less fun when you are constantly being corrected. When we teach ballet as stern task masters to squirmy preschoolers we risk their building a negative outlook on dance.

Where do boys fit into all of this? In the U.S. there are a lot of myths about ballet being “for girls” or that “dance is for girls.” Every time I meet a 6th grade boy who tells me, they don’t dance because “dance is for girls,” I think to myself that the child will be feeling a lot differently when they are looking to impress someone they like at a school dance or even as an adult in a club. A lot of boys find that men in their family frown upon dancing, but these same kids love Michael Jackson and fail to realize that George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker was choreographed by a man unafraid to wear tights.

“If ballet were just for girls, then think of how many families would have missed out on George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.”

What makes Creative Movement Different?

The problems I raised with ballet can be found in other dance forms. As someone who has helped repair positive relationships with dance (I still kick myself over the students I couldn’t help), I believe that any parent who knows their child, will know if Ballet or Creative Movement is the right place to start. At Choreography by Rae® our Creative Movement kids dance class ages 4-6 uses dance technique from a multiple styles including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Latin dance, and Hip Hop. Locomotor skills are developed as kids have fun skipping, jumping, and spinning their way through this introductory dance class. Sensory motor skills are expanded as students don’t just learn to follow dance instructions but contribute their own creative ideas to creating dance experiences. Creativity and Imagination are blended with proper dance technique and dance terminology in these weekly classes.These high energy classes focus on building a strong dance foundation, empowering young children to make their own decisions about whether a more structured ballet class is suitable for them or a more high energy jazz class. Boys and Girls both thrive in Creative Movement.

Like this post? Vehemently disagree? Let me know in the comments below. Like this blog post? Check out this thoughtful and scientific article from The Atlantic: Why Young Kids Learn Through Movement

"Amazing class. My son enjoyed learning new dance choreography. Rae is very good with her students."
Angela Clemmons
parent of (Jayden, 10 years)