Some kids thrive of the order and discipline that a traditional dance form like ballet or tap offers. Other kids obviously want to be involved with dance, but they balk at the strict conformity required for those dance forms. Contemporary dance uses a basic vocabulary of dance moves that come from ballet, jazz, and even tap, but it uses those moves in a very different way, which can offer a child more ways to explore and create. In terms of philosophy, Contemporary dance shares more with modern and post-modern dance. Contemporary dance focuses on the composition of the dance: Using body, space, and time to create an artistic impression. Improvisation is one element of contemporary dance, and good classes will encourage students to try improv, but choreography is still used, though not in as rigid a way as, say, ballet.
Variety is one major reason that Contemporary dance can not only attract the attention of a child, but also hold onto it as he or she practices, learns, and grows throughout the years. From the powerful legwork employed in classical ballet to the center-body focus of modern dance, to dramatic elements like floor work, fall and recover, and contract-release, unexpected changes in speed, direction, and rhythm, the use of humor, and elements borrow from other cultures, such as African or Japanese dance, there’s always something new for students to try, and new ways to express themselves.
Practice Without Pleading
In addition to the fitness benefits, kids who take part in dance tend to develop better posture, balance, and flexibility, and beyond that, they tend to think more creatively and be more confident in all aspects of life. Dance can reduce stress and anxiety and lessen depression. In order to maximize those benefits, though, kids need to receive good teaching through regular classes, and to practice frequently. For many parents, getting their kids to practice can be a stress-inducing challenge. Because Contemporary dance lends itself to improvisation and to many different kinds of music, though, kids may find themselves practicing without any cajoling at all. You may even find yourself setting down a “no dancing at the dinner table” rule for your kids; wouldn’t that be a pleasant change?
Choices To Suit Your Child
For very young children, a more fun approach that introduces but doesn’t stress technique may be a good choice. If your child gets a feel for Contemporary dance as a fun thing, and wants to continue, they can begin to take classes that focus more on form and technique when they want to improve. Because Contemporary dance includes so many different things, you might try some different teachers and studios until you find one that makes your child light up. We are all willing to work harder to improve at something we enjoy. If we’re not having fun, practicing to perfect technique is painstaking drudgery, and eventually, we’ll find an excuse to quit. Help your child find a reason to love dance, and it’s quite likely it will become a lifetime activity, if not a full-blown passion.