ballet Keiki Maui

Do you find your keiki twirling, bopping, or shaking their hips around the house? Maybe you are considering enrolling them in a dance class? Great idea! You can find many classical dance programs on our island that include creative movement, ballet, tap and jazz. Dance offers non-competitive opportunities for children to learn more about themselves and the art of music and movement.

In addition to physical activity, you’ll be happy to know dance class also gives kids a place to:
* Develop creativity
* Express emotion
* Build social skills
* Encourage independence
* Build self-confidence
* Create musicality and rhythmic awareness

The obvious benefit of dance class for your youngster is enhancing their physical development. The jumping, bending and stretching in dance is super helpful while their muscles are developing. Coordination and balance are practiced through fun and stimulating movement repetition. (And you’ll love to watch them practice at home.)

It’s true when the National Dance Education Organization says, “The physical benefits of dance are widely accepted, but the emotional, social and cognitive attributes have only recently begun to be appreciated.” Studying dance isn’t easy, but who said we should keep our kids away from challenge? Don’t you think in the right positive environment, struggling, failing, and succeeding is an important life lesson?

Making a dance class enjoyable and educational is the mark of a good teacher. Danelle Watson, director of the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts in Kula, has 24 years of experience working with dancers and has seen her students grow through dance: “Teaching the youngest dancers is the most rewarding because, I feel like I make the biggest impact with them. My students are aware of my high expectations. It is important that each student receives positive attention daily to boost their self-confidence. I love seeing how delighted they are when they realize they are capable, even if it doesn’t come easily. In class, our philosophy is to introduce physical progressions, an appreciation for dance and music, and the joy to move their little bodies.”

When choosing a dance program, there are a few factors I want you to consider. First, it is important that the teacher has experience working with children, not just performing. Second, the classes should be age appropriate and focus on instilling confidence and a love of dance. Finally, be sure to ask about class size and performance opportunities. Dancing in a group is an important part of learning dance, but the teacher needs to be able to manage individual attention too. The chance to perform provides vital inspiration and creates work ethic in a dancer. Dance is a performing art after all and is best experienced while in front of an audience that gives a sense of achievement for hard work.

Here on Maui we are lucky to have some quality dance programs on the island. Take a look around and join in on this performing art and all it has to offer your family.

Image Credit: Paul Bacon Jr

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Cristin Ertel holds a B.A. in Dance with a jazz concentration from the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. At the time of writing she was on faculty at and has performed with the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts.