Debating between all the myriad activities open to your littlest ones? Fonda Bloy, founder of The Next Evolution Dance Company, states the case for dance.
1. It promotes all kinds of creativity
With lots of activities for kids, the focus is on improving a particular skill. Dance – at least the way Bloy teaches it – is about creative play. “Parents tend to take away kids’ creative time and substitute the TV or iPad,” says Bloy. “I’m a parent – I get it! But it’s so important to give children opportunities to be creative. Of course they’ll learn steps and technique, but all age groups are given the chance to create their own dances. Sometimes I’ll say to little kids – the pre-school groups – ‘What’s your favourite thing in the world? Your puppy! OK, where can we take this? Say your puppy chewed up your favourite shoes. How do you feel?’ They begin to understand their own emotions and be able to express them.”
2. It’s not competitive
Children are always working towards goals, but Bloy says the focus with any age group is on supporting each other, not competing. “I encourage camaraderie – so for example, I’ll reward the whole class with ice cream or a party when they all get their splits. It’s so amazing to see the way they all help each other, even from the youngest age."
3. It’s fun
The traditional dance culture can be very serious, even for little children. “I think that it’s not intentional but it’s just the way things have always been done,” says Bloy. “My approach is really about instilling the love for dance so they retain the excitement. Of course they work hard and see how that translates to improvement, and that’s important too, but I don’t believe in putting pressure on. For example, there’s the dance tradition of the big show, but that can be intimidating for little ones. Instead, we do the costumes because everyone likes to dress up, but just put on a small show for friends and family inside the studio.”
4. It goes beyond dance
Most dance studios run classes that are an hour long or shorter, but Bloy schedules longer, even for the littlest kids. “It allows us time to relax and bond, not just focusing purely on skills. I have time to talk to them, learn how they learn, which helps them in school because they understand themselves better. At the end of each class, everyone feels like they accomplished something and the group is all working together.”
5. It’s diverse
Dance encompasses many disciplines – Bloy and her team teach ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and hip-hop in her brand-new studio in Richmond – and newcomers can join the company at any age and level. That means every boy and girl has the opportunity to find the style of dance that suits them, and learn it in a nurturing, fun environment.
The Next Evolution Dance Company takes students aged three to adults. Classes at the new studio at #7-11220 Voyageur Way, Richmond start on September 10, but registration is open now. To find out more, call 604-447-0116, email email@example.com, or follow @tnedance on Instagram and Twitter.