Dance workshops are at the forefront of my mind – primarily because I’m working on devising the structure and content of our Christmas workshops right now. As I tap away on my keyboard, noting down creative and innovative content for the two days, it occurred to me that, for the children who attend these workshops, there are so many developmental benefits in attending these fun filled sessions, over and above the simple singing and dancing element.
Sociability, confidence and independence
A drop off, full day workshop for any child can be quite daunting, and as teachers (and parents) we totally understand this. Fortunately, at most of our workshops, our students will generally know one or more other students from dance classes, and they will also know the teachers. We spend time at the beginning of the workshops encouraging the children to get to know each other, their names, things they might like to do (just fun things really, keeping everything happy and light-hearted). The whole act of participating in a group routine embeds the feeling of unity within the group, and children have to work together to produce the end performance. As a result of this, confidence grows and friendships are quickly formed, assisted by the fact the children all have something in common. By the end of the workshops it is always wonderful to see friendships having been made and goodbye hugs being given.
Whilst a lot of the workshop content is prepared well in advance, as teachers we view workshops as a collaborative session and are always keen for students to have their say into the routines and performance. We encourage the children to devise their own choreography, to decide how parts of their performance should look and, for the older students, determine how they spend their time – which areas they want to focus on more. For many this will be their first foray into choreography, and children take this freedom and run with it! Without the confines of working to a syllabus there is a greater creative autonomy among the children which is brilliant in expanding their thought processes and giving them a sense of “owning” the production. It is no longer a dictated piece of work, but something they themselves have made, and we see a great sense of pride in their performance. The empowerment is brilliant and children often thrive in this environment.
Exposure to other dance forms
Many children start off learning ballet and then progress to learning tap, modern, and jazz. Workshops are a brilliant way of allowing children to try out all these dance forms, and others – we often include singing, musical theatre and dance-acro within our courses. Children who might not have otherwise thought to try a different dance style sometimes find their niche during a workshop, and it’s great to see a child just “click” with a different dance form.
Without the constraints of the dance syllabus, as teachers we frequently use workshop environments to stretch and develop the children we teach. We can try out more advanced steps that might be a few grades beyond where the children are at, and we are often amazed at how keen the children are to try steps that are, on paper, too complex for them. It is always so rewarding to witness children trying their hardest and practising complicated routines until they have perfected them. We never underestimate children’s abilities – they are always so much more capable than we can ever predict!
Our Christmas Workshops are on the 19th and 20th December and are festively themed around Frozen 2 and Nativity! the musical. Email us to book in – D2Dance@hotmail.co.uk. We would love your child to come!