Beating the Back-to-School Blues

“But I’m too tired!” 

It’s that time of year again!  School is back in session and after-school activities abound, meaning “I’m too tired” can become a frequent refrain from the backseat of your car.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear about young dancers who fall asleep on the way to class during the first month or so of school.  Getting used to a new schedule is not easy!  Some children won’t be shy about stating how tired they are after school is out; others just feel a little grouchy by the time dance class rolls around.  

What can you do to help turn this feeling around (and end your own exasperation)?  In our experience at Expressions Dance, the suggestions included here have the potential to completely bust those back-to-school blues!

  • Create a fun “going-to-dance” ritual.  Whether it’s the music you jam out to on the way to class each week, or a family pizza night afterward, a special ritual can always perk up the day.  The routine built around attending dance class can have a tremendous impact on your child’s ability to adapt to their new schedule.

  • Offer gentle, consistent reassurance.  While we all know that logic doesn’t always fly with children, sometimes they feel better just knowing you understand and are there for them.  Remind them that feeling tired after school is normal, and that the feeling will get better over time. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort.

  • Be prepared with water and snacks!  Children who are well-hydrated and who’ve had a light snack before dance class feel more refreshed and ready to move.  They have the energy they need to enjoy the experience and retain what they’ve learned.

If there is a “best part” about the back-to-school blues, it’s that they are temporary.  At Expressions Dance, we know that this period of time will soon become a distant memory, one replaced with the refrain of “Is it time to go to dance class yet?”  Consider yourself warned!

How to Make the Most Out of Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Dance lessons can be an awesome way to encourage your child’s personal growth!  At Expressions Dance, we’re not just teaching dance steps in our classrooms—we’re developing curious, compassionate young leaders and equipping them for success.   

We know that it can be a challenge sometimes to know what to do to offer support and encouragement for your dancer—especially if you are still new to the world of dance!  Here are four of our best tips for making the most out of your child’s class experience at Expressions Dance:

  1.  Talk about dance at home

    • Although many of our young dancers take just one or two classes per week, dance is usually on their minds every day!  Read dance books together or listen to music and try some dance moves in the living room.  This helps keep your child’s mind engaged about dance in an extra-fun way—because they can share it with you!

  2. Ask your child to teach you what they are learning

    • Since dance lessons are built on structure and repetition, teaching someone else can be a fun way to practice.  Even if your child is still working on remembering their steps, this can help exercise their memory!  (Plus, it can be pretty cute.)

  3. Find out what your child likes best about class, or what they find challenging

    • Gain insight into what your child loves about dance—and what they think is hard—by asking them about their class.  Do they have a favorite step?  Have they made some new friends?  What do they like about their teacher?  These answers can help you understand what your child’s experience is like.

  4. Voice your support

    • The way you praise your child can be very useful in helping them get the most out of dance class!  Use phrases like, “I love watching you dance!” or “I can tell you’ve been working hard.” or “Did you try your best?  That’s what’s most important.”  Your child’s confidence and enthusiasm will continue to grow with this kind of encouragement at home and at class.

 

We hope these four tips come in handy as your child progresses through our dance season and of course, we’re always happy to help with any class curriculum or programming questions you might have.  We’re so thankful you’ve chosen Expressions Dance for your child’s education in dance! 

 

Why is the Dress Code Important?

It’s a common question to hear from dance parents and students alike: What purpose does the dress code actually serve?  We’re glad you asked! Expressions Dance’s dress code was established for a few very important reasons:

  • Safety

    • The number one factor in establishing a dress code is for all students’ safety in class.  A basic leotard and tights, along with hair pulled back and the appropriate shoes, ensures that there are no extraneous clothes or jewelry that can become hazardous.  The dress code also helps teachers see that students are using the right muscles and alignment in order to learn the correct movements in class. 

  • Modesty

    • At Expressions Dance, we want every student to feel good about trying his or her best in class.  Following the dress code helps us make sure that everyone is appropriately covered ... but not so covered that their movement is restricted!  We know that kids can sometimes feel self-conscious, and we want to encourage their confidence by helping them feel comfortable with what they wear in the studio.

  • Respect

    • A dress code is one way students show respect for their peers and their teachers.  It demonstrates an understanding of how a dance class operates, with minimal distractions and the ability to move easily for any combination of steps or choreography.  It shows that the students are prepared to learn and are willing to save their fashion statements for outside of class.

  • Practicality

    • Because leotards and tights also often serve as a versatile base layer for costuming, it makes sense that students become accustomed to them during class time.  Just as swimmers wear swimsuits and basketball players wear jerseys, dancers wear leotards and tights to have the freedom of movement required to practice correctly and efficiently.

 

Everyone benefits with the dress code in place: dancers can learn comfortably and instructors can teach efficiently!  At Expressions Dance, we take pride in our dress code and are happy to help you with questions at any time.

 

Congratulations!  You’re Officially a Dance Parent...

Welcome to the club, dance moms and dads!  Now that you’ve formally signed your child up for lessons and you’ve gotten all the pertinent information about the season, you are officially a dance parent at Expressions Dance!

Being a dance parent here is a little bit like being in a secret society; there’s this new lingo to learn and a whole culture that you are now a part of.  Here’s the inside scoop on what you need to know for your new status as an Expressions Dance mom or dad:

  • Study up on your dancewear vocab.  A leotard is the form-fitting bodysuit that dancers wear to class, and tights are worn underneath (kinda like pantyhose). Tights and leotards take the place of underwear, make sure to take those off before putting on their tights!  Ballet shoes are usually pink and should fit snugly on your child’s feet; don’t buy them with room to grow!  Tap shoes are the noisy ones, and jazz shoes look a little like slip-on ballet shoes, except with a small heel.

  • Practice how to do a bun.  A bun is the hairstyle we recommend for most classes, as it allows students to move freely without getting hair in their face.  Our favorite method can be found in our tutorial video HERE. A quick Google or YouTube search will give you oodles of tutorials to choose from—or just ask us!  We can give you a demo right here in the lobby.

  • Pack a dance bag.  Dance shoes, a water bottle, extra dancewear, and hair supplies … all of these things belong in your child’s dance bag.  (Avoid allowing your child to wear their dance shoes outside; it’s damaging.)  Be sure to label everything with your child’s name or initials! 

  • Learn about the recital.  At Expressions Dance, we offer an opportunity every year for our students to perform.  The recital, as it’s commonly known, is when each class performs a routine onstage and in costume, and family and friends watch the show from the audience.  Stay tuned all year to our emails and handouts for all the need-to-know recital info!

  •  Introduce yourself to the other parents.  We love building a community of like-minded moms and dads who understand our culture and enjoy having their children involved in dance.  Our super-friendly dance parents are some of the best people we know, so we encourage you to introduce yourself in the lobby.  Share stories, find carpools, plan playdates, or ask about their personal experiences at Expressions Dance! 

 Being a dance parent is pretty awesome but being a dance parent at Expressions Dance is even better!  We hope this primer serves you well and helps you feel welcome at the studio.  We’re glad you’re here!

 

New Teacher?  No Problem!

Having a new teacher in class can be an awesome experience for any student, and especially a dance student!  Because dance is passed down from generation to generation and learned from person to person, every teacher’s perspective brings something special to the classroom.  Whether it’s the way they introduce a concept or how they explain a correction, a new teacher’s unique viewpoint can offer unexpected “lightbulb moments” in a child’s learning experience.

Just like classes at school, our dance classes may have new teachers in place at the beginning of the season, at the new semester, or if a teacher requires a substitute during the year.  Here at Expressions Dance, we understand that having a new dance teacher can be fun for some students and nerve-wracking for others. 

 It’s important to remember that if your child is feeling anxious about having a new teacher, those feelings are completely normal!  And there are a few things you can talk to your child about to ease their mind and make the transition smooth:

  • New teachers are going to be different—but in a positive way

    • Going into class with an open mind is key to having a positive experience with a new teacher!  Talk to your child about the kinds of things they might learn from a new teacher, or what they want to know about that person.  Remind them that the previous teachers they’ve loved were once new to them too!  With time, this new relationship will develop and feel more secure.

  •  Having a new teacher is great practice for school

    • It’s reassuring for your child to know that this won’t be the only time in their life that they meet a new teacher.  The dance classroom is a great place to practice getting to know someone new, because we all already have something special in common: We love to dance!  Finding those shared likes right away helps build the teacher-student bond no matter where you are.

  •  A new teacher is eager to get to know their students

    • We know that any new teacher at Expressions Dance is going to be excited to get to know the dancers in their class!  Talk to your child about how to show that they want to make a good impression, perhaps by raising their hand to answer a question or giving the teacher an extra “thank you” when class time is over.  A new teacher will appreciate the extra effort as they are getting to know each student.

 We also suggest that you explain to your child that their teacher is probably a little nervous too!  And everyone will feel more comfortable once the dancing begins.  Dance unites us all in a pretty amazing way.  It helps us connect as humans, and gives us the confidence to try new things and welcome new people into our lives!

Awesome Audience Etiquette

With the date fast approaching for recital, we thought this would be the perfect time to share with you our tips for awesome audience etiquette!  Following these tips will help us ensure an enjoyable recital experience for everyone involved.

Tip #1: When entering the theater take a quick note of where the exits are, just in case of an emergency.

Tip #2: Plan to turn off or silence all of your devices prior to the start of the show.  The sounds and screens are very disruptive.  There is no need to use your phone during the performance, because we have a professional photographer and videographer attending the show! Sit back and relax while you enjoy watching your child perform live instead of through your phone screen!

 Tip #3: It is courteous to applaud after each routine in the recital, but please avoid shouting or screaming as it can be distracting to both the dancers on stage and to other audience members.

Tip #4: There may be some high-energy routines where you are encouraged to clap along in time to the music; we invite you to do so.  (Just remember: no hollering!)

 Tip #5: Avoid entering or exiting the theater while there are dancers performing onstage.  A good rule of thumb is to only move from your seat in between routines, if necessary.

 Tip #6: Following Tip #5, if you have a baby or young child who is sitting with you and they become disruptive, please exit with them quickly and quietly between routines.

 Tip #7: Refrain from talking or whispering with other audience members while the dancers are performing.  Quick comments in between routines are OK!

 Tip #8: Don’t litter.  Please take care not to leave any belongings or trash behind so we do not incur an unexpected cleaning fee.

 

Expressions Dance has an excellent reputation for being well-organized, gracious, and respectful of our venue so we will be welcome back!  As members of our recital audience, your cooperation is much appreciated in helping us maintain this good standing!  If you will be inviting other family members and friends to the show, please share these tips with them too.

 

As you enjoy the show, don’t forget that our students are dancing their hearts out for you, the audience!  Show them your appreciation by following these tips and recognizing their hard work. 

Please let us know if you have ANY questions before the big day!

Planning, Preparing, & Packing for the Big Day

We are just a few short weeks away from the recital, can you believe it!?

With that in mind, we’ve created this checklist to make sure you’ve planned, prepared, and packed!  And of course, we are just a phone call or email away if you have any questions.

  •  First things first: find a few quiet minutes to review your recital information.  This is absolutely our #1 request because you will not only feel informed, you’ll have peace of mind!  Our team spends hours making sure we’re organized behind the scenes, and we want you to be caught up on all of the pertinent details, especially arrival/dismissal times and security precautions.

  •  If you have guests outside of your immediate family who are attending the show, make sure you have shared with them the need-to-know info, particularly about tickets, parking, and audience etiquette.

  •  In the days leading up to the show, encourage your dancer to keep a balanced schedule: help them get lots of rest, healthy snacks, plenty of water, and make sure they aren't putting too much stress on themselves for dance.  Even young dancers can internalize outside pressures, and we want to keep recital preparations feeling fun and exciting for them.

  •  Label everything!  Add your child's name or initials to the tags inside their costume, tights, shoes, and any other important items in their dance bag or garment bag.  An easy way to do this?  Write on a small piece of masking tape or painter’s tape and stick it inside the item.

  • Remove your child’s nail polish prior to the big day (it can be distracting from the stage) and have a practice session with their hair and make-up.  Not only is this fun, it will ease any nerves you have about making sure they are confident and ready-to-go!

  • Before leaving the house for the recital, make sure your dancer’s costume, tights, shoes, and accessories are packed!  This seems obvious of course, but in the busyness of the day, it helps to double and triple-check before heading out the door.  Remember to leave valuables at home so they will not be left unattended in the dressing room.

 

And hey, don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back for being an awesome parent!  We truly have some of the most attentive, involved, and supportive parents (and grandparents) here at Expressions Dance, and we're happy you're one of them.  We appreciate your dedication to your dancer at this extra-special time of year!

 

Performing to Show Progress, Not Perfection

Practice makes perfect.”

 Chances are you’ve heard this saying many, many times in your life.  (We sure have!)  It’s one of the most well-known proverbs, with roots that go all the way back to the 16th century.  And while we appreciate its intention, here at Expressions Dance, we much prefer to say practice makes progress.” 

Why?  Because we don’t teach perfection as a goal.  Especially when it comes to the recital, we strive for every dancer to showcase their knowledge and skills, and to express their joy.  We want the performance to be their opportunity to celebrate achievements big and small, public and personal.  And a focus on perfection detracts from all of those things. 

We do need to be clear that although we don’t teach perfection as a goal, we do teach excellence.  Excellence, to us, is different than perfection.  Excellence means we are holding our students to a high standard yet still giving them room to grow, to be themselves, and to develop at their own pace.  Excellence is realistic; perfection is unachievable.

We know all too well from personal experience that perfectionism can be a difficult mindset, one that takes years to overcome.  For dancers, perfectionism can result in frustrations and tears because they do not see any other path forward.  We’re working to change that mentality!  Part of our mission is to uphold an environment where every mistake is actually a learning experience, and every disappointment leads to a stronger work ethic.

Live performances, too, always have some measure of unpredictability.  Sure, we plan and rehearse (and plan and rehearse!), but we do so with the understanding that the recital is still a live event, which means there may be moments where a dancer forgets a step, stumbles, or freezes.  And the power of that moment is in their ability to keep going and finish strong, not in the anguish of missing the target of perfection.  They can only find that power if we instill it in them.

There is beauty in the real-ness of the recital, the true reality of it.  In no other way can you see—up close—the courage, vulnerability, strength, and pure emotion that dance brings to your child.  It will take your breath away to see all of this onstage!

 

So when you watch your child onstage at the recital, we want you to rejoice in their growth.  Witness their joy.  Tell them how proud you are of their effort and confidence onstage.  Show them you see them.  And celebrate their path to progress!

 

 

 

Taking Care of Costumes - Dos & Don’ts

There’s nothing else quite like a dance costume—it carries the excitement of the performance yet to come, and of course, there are all those sparkles!  For many children, wearing a costume brings out the confidence and poise they’ve been working so hard on in class, and it is one of their most favorite parts about dancing on stage. 

Because dance costumes are made from specialty fabrics, they can’t be treated like regular clothes.  From stretchy lycra-blended leotards to the embellishments of sequins and beading, costumes are made from finicky materials.  For this reason, we do not recommend washing them, but a little extra TLC can go a long way! 

Taking care of your child’s costume can be simple if you keep these Dos and Don'ts in mind:

  • Do encourage your dancer to find a safe place at home to keep their costume.  Help them understand that this will keep it in tip-top shape for photos and performance time.

  • Don't allow playtime in the costume.  If something spills on it or it rips, it is too late to purchase a new one!  Save the dress-up time for after the recital.

  • Don’t allow your child to eat messy foods or drink anything but water when wearing the costume for photos or the performance.  This helps prevent irreversible damage that can be caused by the dyes and enzymes in food and drink.

  • Do keep tutus upside down on the hanger, unless otherwise specified by your child's teacher.  This helps keep the tutu fluffy!

  • Do purchase a nude leotard undergarment for your child if they complain that the costume is itchy.  These undergarments can be worn at all times for comfort and modesty; ask us for recommendations.

  • If the costume is wrinkled, Do allow it to "rest" outside of the garment bag.  Using a steamer is OK too if you are experienced with one.

  • Don't forget that costumes are made-to-order but not custom-made, so small alterations (such as tacking straps or hemming pants) may be needed to ensure the fit is just right.

  • Do make sure the costume is ready to go when needed!  Make sure it is not crumpled or missing anything, and bring it with you in its garment bag.

 

If you ever have a question about the best way to store or care for a specific dance costume, please ask!  We understand that costume care can feel like completely new territory, so we're happy to help anytime.

Practicing at Home: Recital Edition

We absolutely love it when our students say they want to practice their recital dance at home.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and then everyone in the class wants to practice at home too! 

But as a parent, how should you go about encouraging this?  Is there such a thing as a too much practice?  We’ve got all your practicing-at-home answers right here:

 

Should I make my child practice their recital dance at home?

The short answer here is no.  We don’t believe practice should be forced, or it can become completely unenjoyable.  But we do think it’s helpful for you to encourage it!  You might say, “Why don’t you practice your dance for 10 minutes and then we’ll play freeze dance together...  are you in?”  (Of course, then you have to follow through on your promise to freeze dance!)

 

When my child practices, there seem to be a lot of forgotten or rushed steps.  Does this mean she’s going to be a mess at the recital?

Nope.  Keep in mind that the recital dance is a group dance, and so practicing at home is completely out of context.  Your child is well-oriented with her group in the studio classroom, so remembering everything at home by themselves is a challenge.  Remember also that every child develops memorization skills at their own pace.  It will “click” for them in time!

 

What if my child expresses that they’ll be nervous onstage?

Know that this is completely normal and expected for nearly every dancer.  Reassure them that it’s OK to feel nervous (that most people do) and their familiar classmates and teachers will be with them during the show.  Talk with them about building up the courage to do their best, and remind them that you’ll be smiling and clapping for them from the audience.  Remind them that you’ll be proud of them no matter what.

 

Should I practice the steps with my child?

Not necessarily.  We recommend that children practice on their own in order to build their self-reliance and confidence, without mom or dad swooping in to help.  Practicing for the recital is not like studying for a test, where you might be able to cram the material into a short amount of time.  We want the recital to truly reflect all of our students’ abilities and progress, not what they drilled at home.

 

What else helps with practicing at home?

Listening to the recital music is really helpful, even if it’s in the car on the way to school.  Knowing the music is key to understanding the counts and rhythms in choreography, so the familiarity can make a big difference in your child’s learning curve and confidence.  Also helpful?  Encourage your child to ask questions in class if they’re not sure about a step!  Our teachers welcome their communication so we can make sure everyone feels prepared. 

The excitement for recital is HUGE for some dancers and a little scary for others.  Keep the conversation going at home by supporting your dancer’s efforts to practice without any added pressure.  We want to keep their spirits high and their insecurities low!

Recital Expectations for Your Little Ones

Performing in the recital is a brand new experience for most of our young dancers.  And while some will find it exciting, others might be a little nervous!  In our experience, one of the keys to recital success is encouraging your child to do their best and reassuring them that you are proud no matter what. 

 So, what’s it going to be like when the big day rolls around?  What’s reasonable for you to expect from your child?  We’ve put together some of our best advice for a rewarding recital experience with your little one!

 Remember that ….

  • Dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people is a pretty big deal! Some dancers are shy and others ham it up.  However they react, all of our young dancers are gaining a tremendous amount of confidence by performing in front of a crowd.  Through this process, they are learning about self-expression, demonstrating their skills, and gaining a sense of accomplishment.

  • Strong emotions might occur, and that’s totally OK!  We’ve seen dancers who are so excited to perform they can hardly stand still, and others who suddenly become worried that they can’t see mom and dad way out there in the audience.  In our experience, most of these big emotions dissipate after dress rehearsal.  But we do have a few special tactics to calm and comfort our littlest performers when needed, so rest assured they are always in good hands!

  • Live performances can be unpredictable—and often in positive ways. But you may wonder whether your little one will forget the dance routine or if they’ll have a case of stage fright.  Though those things do happen sometimes, they don’t mean your child’s future in dance is over.  (In fact, far from it!)  We know we can’t predict exactly what will happen, but we can guarantee that we are as proactive and prepared as possible.

  • Our curricula are designed to focus on gross motor skills and dance fundamentals.  Our students are being taught age-appropriate movements that align with their physical development.  Don’t expect your little one to perform with the same knowledge and skills of a dancer who is older or more experienced!  Technical progress comes over time as each dancer moves through our class levels at just the right pace.

  • Success come in many forms, and we do not promote perfection as one of them!  Instead, we talk in class about the dancers trying their best and having fun while they perform.  Success is both the child who comes off stage beaming with joy AND the one who shyly admits she enjoyed it; it is both the child who remembered every step AND the one who forgot a few but worked super hard.  We want to celebrate every version of recital success!

We hope you enjoy watching your dancer onstage at the recital and seeing how far they’ve come this year.  All of us at Expressions Dance are super proud of our young dancers' progress!

Behind the Scenes at the Studio

Have you and your child ever wondered what goes on at Expressions Dance when you’re not there?  There’s a whole other side to the dance studio that some people never know about!  Here’s a little report on how the magic happens and what you don’t usually see …

Documents, spreadsheets, and software, oh my … You don’t usually associate these things with teaching dance, but it’s how we stay organized and prepared.  On any given day, you’ll find Expressions Dance staffers plugging away at computer work, all in the name of maintaining reliable systems so we can serve you better!

Creating classes … Expressions Dance teachers are in constant creative-mode, working on which curricula will be the focus of which class, how that material will be introduced, and to which music.  They are always experimenting with different combinations of steps to find just the right mix for each class’s students.

Marketing development … You know the fun social media posts you see?  Created and scheduled behind-the-scenes!  That amazing master class opportunity coming up?  Contracted last year.  The new brochures, flyers, or rack cards that go up at the front desk?  You guessed it; they were all designed and printed with months of planning from our marketing calendar.

Problem-solving … Whether we’re troubleshooting a scheduling snafu, juggling a tricky music edit, or working through a budget, there’s always some element of problem-solving at play.  Our creativity can’t stop at the classroom doors; we need to use it everywhere!

Performance prep … The recital may only come around once a year, but the work needed to make it successful goes on all year long.  From planning choreography to choosing costumes, and from reserving the venue to setting the show order, every detail is sharpened before the information becomes public.

So now you know: Expressions Dance is full of bustling activity, even when classes aren’t in session!  The best part of the day though, comes when we see our first group of students for the day.  It’s when the behind-the-scenes hustle pauses and we all get to do our favorite thing in the world: teach dance!

 

 

 

Practicing at Home: Dos and Don’ts  

Many of our students absolutely love practicing dance at home.  You’ll find them twirling in the living room and tapping in the kitchen—they just can’t contain their enthusiasm!  It’s not uncommon for a parent to tell us that their child feels compelled to choreograph with their friends after school or teach their stuffed animals how to piqué and passé.

 If your child is one these non-stop movers, you might have started wondering, “What can I do to encourage this practice in a safe way?  How can I foster this passion?” 

 At Expressions Dance, we get it!  And we’ve got some great advice for you here with our Dos and Don’ts for practicing at home:

First and foremost, Do designate a specific spot in your house that is “dance practice” space!  This could be a room or hallway with very little furniture, or perhaps your garage—somewhere that is easy to move in.  Don’t allow tap shoes on your easily-scuffed floors, and never allow your child to practice in pointe shoes at home (even if she has earned her shoes). 

 Do challenge your child to practice what they remember from class, but don’t worry if they just want to improvise their own moves!  Resist the urge to “teach” the dance steps yourself; Do allow your child’s dance teacher to be the authority of those skills in the classroom.

 Don’t expect perfection with at-home practice; it should feel relaxed and carefree as much as possible.  Do suggest that your child practice with music (any music!) since it will help them become even more familiar with finding the beat and keeping time with rhythms.

 Also take care to supervise when your child practices; do watch what they’re doing at home to ensure they are safe—and don’t hesitate to join in the fun!

Practicing dance at home should always feel comfortable and supportive so that your child can unleash their creativity and joy for dancing.  If you ever have any questions about what is safe or appropriate to practice at home, please ask!  We’re happy to help.

FIND THE PRACTICE VIDEOS FOR RECITAL DANCES HERE!

Why Children Need Grit, and How Dance Makes a Difference

 Gritty people have a growth mindset; they don’t give up.

 This paraphrased quote is from author Angela Duckworth, who popularized the word “grit” with her famous TED Talk about the power of passion and perseverance.  She wasn’t talking specifically about dancers, but she could have been!

 Children need to develop resilience in order to learn from their experiences and grow into their full potential.  This is why we value determination and tenacity so highly here at Expressions Dance, because we know these are beneficial qualities to have in life, in or out of the dance classroom.  But can you teach a child these qualities; to be more resilient, more gritty?  We strongly believe the answer to that is YES. 

In dance class, we want our students to know we care about them and want them to succeed.  But we also want to hold them to age-appropriate, growth-driven standards—high standards that will require their hard work, practice, and focus for achievement.

Dance, like life, can present its challenges: the step might not look correct yet; your body might be sore or injured; the audition answer might be no; you might even fall down every now and then.  Allowing a child to simply walk away from those challenges (or give up on them) only teaches the child that hard work need not apply.  Persevering through those challenges, however, teaches them to bounce back; to build the work ethic they will need throughout their childhood and young adult life.

 These lessons in dance will be hard at times, no doubt.  As parents and teachers, we know there will sometimes be tears or frustrations.  But that won’t stop us from encouraging these kids to push themselves.  They are amazing kids who will go on to persevere through a tough exam at school, bounce back from a job they didn’t get, or work through a strained friendship.  They are amazing kids who will become amazing adults because they have been challenged by failure and fueled by success.

At Expressions Dance, we want you to know that this message is very important to us and close to our hearts, and it helps us coach the best out of your child, day in and day out.  Through dance we’re teaching them how to be grittier and in turn, empowering them for the future.

Raising a Healthy Dancer

In our dance classes at Expressions Dance, we are committed to developing dancers who have healthy bodies and minds—and a healthy outlook on life!  We want our dancers to feel confident about themselves and love their bodies. 

What can you do at home to support this objective and boost your child’s overall wellness?  We encourage these principles as a guide to build healthy habits in your child:

  • Think about food as fuel!

    • Nutrition plays a huge role in developing healthy dancers!  Help your child see food as fuel by referring to it that way, that food makes up the protein, fats, and carbohydrates they need to have the energy and mental clarity for dancing. 

  • Make hydration easy!

    • Whether at home or at the studio, children may need extra reminders to stay hydrated.  Make drinking water a habit by having a water bottle available whenever possible (such as in their backpack or dance bag) and inviting your child to help prepare it in their favorite way, such as with the squeeze of an orange or an overload of ice cubes!

  • Wind down before bedtime!

    • To optimize your child’s existing routine, help them discover ways to “decompress like a dancer” in the hour before bedtime.  Listening to music or gently stretching, for example, can be excellent ways to unwind.

  • Talk about bodies in a healthful way!

    • At Expressions Dance, we are hyper-aware that body-positive talk by adults influences kids’ perspectives about their own bodies.  We encourage parents to curb any negative talk about themselves and instead model an appreciation for what healthy bodies can do, such as grow stronger muscles or learn new dance moves!

  • Take social media breaks!

    • Children can easily get caught in a current of body-comparisons as they scroll through their social media.  Encouraging them to take breaks—even just an evening at a time—interrupts those thoughts, allowing kids to refresh their thinking.

It’s essential for us at Expressions Dance to grow the mindset that dance class is about more than just the steps: it’s also a place that helps shape healthy habits for life.  We appreciate our dance parents standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us on this mission!

Why Performing is Beneficial for Your Child

As you’ve probably noticed, the team at Expressions Dance has already begun talking about recital!  Even though it’s only January, our recital planning is well underway.  It’s this time of year, with the buzz of recital just beginning, that parents sometimes ask us, “Why should my child participate?  What’s beneficial about it?”

This is an excellent question—and a significant one!  The recital is an investment in your child’s dance education, and it’s a pretty important commitment.  At its core, dance is a performing art, which is part of the reason why we want every child to experience the thrill of being onstage.

 We believe there are three core reasons at the heart of why performing is so valuable, even for our youngest dancers:

  1.  Progress:

    Throughout the dance season, your child is making awesome progress in class.  And when we say “awesome progress” we don’t necessarily mean the obvious, like learning fancy ballet steps (although that is pretty awesome too!).  What we mean is that your super-shy child bursts with confidence, or your child who said “I can’t” now says “I can,” or your teen who hid her smile now shines with every practice.  Seeing this kind of progress in class is great, but having it showcased on stage is priceless!  Performing allows your child to demonstrate their progress—both with the steps AND with their self-esteem.

  2. Potential

    The recital is an excellent time to see what’s possible if your child sticks with dance for the long-term.  From the audience, you’re able to see the potential dance holds as you watch the variety of styles and age groups.  Your child, too, will be inspired by seeing the different dance routines, and might think to themselves, “I bet I can do that too!”  Dance offers the promise of so much growth if a young child perseveres and works hard; the recital performance brings this potential into the spotlight!

  3. Passion

    Performing holds an excitement like some children have never experienced before.  Nerves can transform in an instant as the dancers light up with joy when stepping foot onstage; they are swept away by the magic of entertaining the crowd.  The sense of accomplishment they feel has them hooked!  It’s this growing passion—not perfect technique or memory—that makes performing so special.

Progress, potential, passion … these are the foundation of what performance is all about!  At Expressions Dance, we love pretty much any opportunity to chat about these benefits, so if you have any questions about having your child perform in our recital, don’t hesitate to ask! Be on the lookout for our recital information to be sent home after class and by email! All families need to submit their consent forms in order to participate!

Dance Lessons Teach Life Lessons

At Expressions Dance, we believe that learning how to dance should be an encouraging and positive experience for children at any age!  And while the dance steps themselves are an important element to every class, the benefits of dance go far beyond pliés and pirouettes. We feel that dance lessons are life lessons!

Here are our five favorite benefits of dance: 

  1. Dance requires perseverance. In today’s world of instant gratification, dance is different because it teaches children how to work hard over days, weeks, months, and years!  Consistent, developmentally-appropriate practice is the way to achieve progress.

  2. There are opportunities everywhere. Every class is a chance to learn something new or grow in a new way.  Whether it’s getting better at a step you already know or trying a new skill, the chance to try and try again is always there!

  3. Forever friendships are formed. There’s something pretty special about the friends you dance with … you share laughs, work together as a team, push each other to do your best, and support each other’s dreams.

  4. Dance prepares kids for life in the “real world.” The dance classroom is full of life lessons: from our preschoolers learning how to take turns with each other to our teenagers understanding how to prepare for an audition, everyone is developing the discipline and patience they’ll need in life outside the classroom.

  5. The “comfort zone” is challenged. Trying new steps.  Performing in front of an audience.  Reaching for a goal.  All of these things help children grow outside their comfort zones!  A shy dancer can learn how to love the stage; an enthusiastic one can learn how to harness her energy. 

As you may already have observed in your child, the immediate joy of dancing comes from the thrill of movement and music!  What follows is another type of joy; one that comes from the long-term, deeply-rooted character qualities instilled during dance class.

These five benefits aren’t the only positives of course, but they are certainly some of the best!  We hope you see them develop in your child as they discover their love for dance.