Raising Active Kids: The Benefits of Ballet

Fitness and Kids – Your Little Ballerina

A little girl steps timidly into her first dance class, the studio bright with sunshine and mirrors. Her pink leotard is adorned with lace and rosettes, her tights slightly baggy, her shoes stiff and untried. The very beginning. Every dancer has to start somewhere.

For many artists, their career begins at a young age with just one dance class a week, getting acquainted with plies, tendus, and chasses. The beginning lays a foundation that for some, will support a beautiful, creative career.

For other kids, while it may not turn into a lifelong career, weekly dance classes are a great way to stay active through a creative outlet. Each type of dance class, from hip-hop, jazz, tap, and ballet, offers unique ways to train kids, engage their minds, and build strong bodies.  If you’ve wondered if your child would benefit from participating in dance class, but not sure how ballet will benefit your little one, then keep reading. 

History of Ballet

The art of ballet has been around for centuries, originating in Italy, and made more popular in France during the reign of none other than King Louis XIV. As the discipline of ballet expanded to other countries, each built on the basics and developed their own standard of ballet training. Today those styles include French, Italian, English, and Russian, among others.

Ballet focuses on creating elegant lines, fostering artistry through storytelling, and builds methodically on terminology and repetition of steps.  Ballet helps to develop strength, coordination, and grace in students. This style is the foundation for many of the other dance styles, and a strong base in this beautiful art form will helps students excel in other disciplines, should they choose to pursue them.

Physical Benefits

The art form offers many benefits to a young child. Ballet fosters in children a love for the fine arts and offers numerous physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits. Dance is a unique athletic endeavor because it involves the whole body. In order to execute one pirouette or one plie, the whole body has to work in unison.

A young dancer immediately begins to build crucial coordination skills as they learn to balance, shift their weight, use the right and left sides of their body independently, and move in all directions throughout space. This begins to build body awareness, learning how one part of their body affects another.

As with any type of exercise, endorphins are released into the body during ballet class, helping to reduce stress and keep the body in a happy rhythm. For example, if your daughter sticks with dance training throughout her teenage years, she may find that her dance classes aid in balancing fluctuating hormones during puberty.

Cognitive & Emotional Benefits

Dance also benefits cognitive development in a large way. For dancers that study ballet, they are introduced to the French language and exposed to classical music and other cultural elements. They also have the opportunity to hone their musicality skills.

Dancers develop excellent muscle memory to memorize a vast amount of short-term choreography (barre exercise and center combos) and long-term choreography (a recital, full-length ballet or competition piece).

Kids also learn self-confidence and poise through dance. Stepping into a dance class with new peers and a new teacher, let alone stepping on stage with lights and audience, can be intimidating for beginning dancers. But through practice and encouragement, they can learn to overcome their fears and blossom into a vibrant performer.

For the youngest of dancers, weekly dance classes foster focus and attention to detail, working with others, and following instructions. They also benefit from building on skills week-to-week and seeing improvement over time.

Like any other sport or musical endeavor, dance has the potential to require a lot of resources: time, money, or extra practices or rehearsals. But it’s worth it. As parents look for ways to raise active kids, dance not only builds strong bodies, but exposes kids to invaluable cultural and artistic elements.

Dancers tell stories with their movements, and paint pictures with their dances. Maybe it’s time to take that energetic little one who can’t stop dancing around the house, and begin to unpack her potential.

It all starts when she steps in the dance room.

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