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 their experience to be warm and wonderful! Our early dance programs utilize the Leap 'n' Learn syllabus, created by experts in dance pedagogy, child psychology, occupational therapy and kinesiology. Leap 'n' Learn is built around children's physical, social and cognitive milestones, to ensure that their introduction to dance is safe, fun and fulfilling. Our program offers gentle pacing and flexible content based upon the principles of child-centred learning and play-to-learn, to allow children to feel secure, confident and independent.
Young children learn at different speeds -- a few months can bring big developmental changes! To help your child learn and enjoy dance, we offer patience, routine, and gentle redirection so that they are comfortable with the surroundings, structure, and expectations of class. Stickers at the end of class celebrate accomplishments such as:
Fundamental motor skills (transfers of weight, balance, use of fingers/toes/head, etc.);
Spatial awareness (levels and directions);
Attending to music and movement cues; and
Visualization/recall of movement through imagery.
PLEASE NOTE: For health and safety reasons, during the 2021-22 season we are asking Young Dancers/First Steps students to attend with a single, trusted adult to assist with entrance/exit, clothing, masks and washrooms during class.
FIRST STEPS: Age 3
First Steps introduces pre-schoolers to 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.