Class Descriptions & Levels:
"What class should I put my child in?"
I hear this question quite often and I'm here to ease your confusion and help answer your questions. Here are some loose class/level descriptions and tips from "Miss Bethany".
Style of Class:
Hip hop- The classification of "Hip Hop" dance is all over the place these days. It can sometimes get a bad rap because the over-sexualized dancing on social media and music videos is portrayed as hip hop. I'm here to assure you, most of that is not technically hip hop, but a commercialized form of dance (that should only be reserved for consenting adults!), and is not what we teach at BAHS! Hip Hop does in fact have a base of technique and structure (breakdancing, popping, locking, house, footwork, isolations, tutting, etc.) It is a fun, fast-paced, high-energy class. We focus a lot on loosening up the body (i.e.: don't have a stiff posture; slouch your shoulders; stay in your plie'- A.K.A. always dance with a bend in your knees; stay on the balls of your feet, etc.) which is a skill that is surprisingly challenging, especially for those with a background in classes like ballet or jazz. This class is a great way to express your own individual style and unique personality. I always tell my classes, "the weirder it feels when you're doing it, the better it will look."
Tap- I'm kind of biased in this style- tap was my first dance class & I've never stopped loving the constant challenges it presents. In my opinion, tap never gets boring because you can always build on it. But, I'm going to be honest in its description, because a lot of kids take their first couple tap classes and get discouraged that it is "too hard". Tap is a bit like learning how to read or learning math (Don't run away, it's only an analogy! I strongly dislike math as well.) You can't read a word or solve an equation the first day you're introduced to these subjects. You first need to learn the individual letters & numbers. After getting familiar with them, you start putting them together to make words & equations and it all starts to make sense. It is the same with tap- you need to learn all the basic steps first. Once you do, you can start combining them to make new steps and combinations, and the possibilities are endless! And seriously, who wouldn't want their own personal drums attached to their legs?
Ballet- Ballet is the root of all styles of dance. Proper technique, positioning & framing begins in ballet. Students will learn positioning of the feet, arms & body, as well as across-the-floor and on-the-barre routines and combinations. Basic leaps, jumps and turns begin in level 1 and become more advanced as the dancer progresses. Students will also work on musicality & rhythm, posture, and flexibility. A background in ballet is also essential for any contemporary or jazz dancer, which is why we like to combine these classes with ballet.
Contemporary- Contemporary is often defined as a loose combination of ballet, jazz & modern dance. Focus on expression and interpretation is key in contemporary. Much of the technique used in this style of dance is ballet & jazz based, which is why we begin our younger dancers in ballet & jazz training before contemporary classes are available to them. Building on technique and adding expression and emotion to a dance is the basis of the contemporary style.
Jazz- Jazz is a fast paced style of dance with a lot of technique, which stems from ballet. Jazz students will work on advanced leaps, turns and jumps as well as focus on flexibility & strength. This style of dance pairs the grace and technique of ballet with the intensity & energy of faster, more upbeat music.
Intro to dance- This class prepares the little ones for the structure & technicality of our level 1 classes by teaching necessary basics. Mainly, they learn how to follow direction and to mimic choreography and are introduced to warm-ups, stretches and basic technique. In a typical class, we will get everyone settled into to circle to take attendance and do our "Hello Song", do some of their favorite warm-up songs, stretch and work on "across-the-floor" basics. Then we introduce some choreography for the day. Half-way through the hour, we switch to tap shoes, at which point it can become a bit noisy- err, I mean lovely- and we learn simple tap basics & choreography. We definitely throw some fun stuff in there as well, to keep them interested for a full hour, so we will do some tumbling on the mat, games and crafty things once in awhile. (Your littles must be able to use the bathroom on their own and have the ability to follow some structure & direction before they are ready to enroll in this class!)
The numbers after the classes can be confusing. A lot of people assume that if they take, for example, Hip Hop 1, then they should move up to Hip Hop 2 the next season. Dance is not like school where you move up a grade every year- if it was, I may very well have 43 levels of classes by now, and I'm not sure my body would hold up during the week (full disclosure- it wouldn't.) Generally, I recommend at least 2 to 3 years in each level. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Staying in your current level of class for some time builds a camaraderie with your class mates. You learn to work together and dance in sync. It is an awesome thing to see a class grow together.
2) Once a student has been in a level for at least a year, they are much more confident in how things work in that class and can really start working to build their skills & improve their technique.
3) Students that have already taken at least a year of their current level really help with the new students coming into the class.
In addition to these things, higher levels are much faster-paced & challenging. We don't spend a lot of time explaining choreography in detail, as we expect that students in the higher levels have already fully grasped the basics and can catch on quickly. Another sorter for levels is age, but that doesn't always apply. Usually, after a certain amount of experience in each level, when students are ready to accept more of a challenge, they can move up.
Here is a very loose description of the levels based on age (there are many exceptions!) Please contact me if you are unsure. Also, if I think your child is signed up for the wrong level, I will recommend a better suited class for you.:
*Intro- Ages 3 to 6
*Level I classes- Ages 6 & up
*Level II classes- Ages 9 & up
*Level III classes- Ages 11 & up
*Level IV classes- Ages 13 & up