First Steps and Young Dancers
The Conservatory recognizes that dance class may be your child’s first time in an instructional setting, and we want the experience to be a warm, wonderful one! Our early dance programming utilizes the Leap 'n' Learn syllabus, created by experts in dance pedagogy, child psychology, occupational therapy and kinesiology. Leap 'n' Learn is organized around children's physical, social and cognitive milestones, to ensure that their introduction to dance is a safe, fun and fulfilling one. Our program is gentle in pace, flexible in content, geared at fostering self-confidence and aimed at helping children feel secure and independent.
Conservatory programs reflect the principles of child-centred learning and play-to-learn.
Young children learn at different speeds -- even a few months bring a big change in development! To help your child learn and enjoy dance, we offer lots of patience, routine, and gentle redirection to help them become comfortable with the surroundings, structure, and expectations of our program. Stickers at the end of class celebrate accomplishments such as:
Basic gross and fine motor skills (running, hopping, marching, tiptoeing, use of fingers/toes/head, etc.);
Spatial awareness (levels and directions);
Attending to music and movement cues; and
Visualization/recall of movement through imagery.
FIRST STEPS: Age 3
First Steps introduces pre-schoolers to the world of dance through a 30-minute class that is fun, gentle, and appropriate to their development. Lessons are planned in 5-minute intervals to maximize young attention spans. Children focus and learn faster. First Steps is designed to:
Introduce preschoolers to the joy of many kinds of music, dance and creative movement;
Help children develop the social, emotional, language, and motor skills needed for formal dance instruction;
Provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for children of all abilities.
YOUNG DANCER I AND II: Ages 4-5 and 5-6
The Young Dancers Program builds upon First Steps to introduce children to a longer (45-minute), more structured dance experience that follows the model of a traditional ballet class. Students engage in gross motor warm-up, stretches, foundational centre barre and technique exercises (plié, tendu, port de bas, sauté, etc.) and across-the-floor movements (gallops, skips, ballet walks, etc.). Dancers also explore musical concepts, emotional expression, improvisation, beginning performance choreography and the rich cultural history of storybook ballets.
Young Dancers I and II offer distinct levels of ballet foundational training. When moving from Young Dancers I to Young Dancers II, children work towards more advanced, developmentally appropriate progressions; including the use of safe beginning turnout, mastery of longer and more complicated sequences of choreography, more challenging movement patterns, focus on consistently pointed feet, more difficult jumps and the coordination of arms and head (port de bras) with the feet. This gives children a solid foundation for training in Ballet I, where they begin use of the barre and undertake a full, one-hour traditional classical ballet class.