WHAT IS A CHRIST-CENTERED DANCE STUDIO?
The Core Theatre Dance Studio is a Christ-centered studio, which means classes are taught by a Christian and we strive to adhere to Biblical principles in our dance instruction, performance and dress. Our goal is to train up students in the mastery of dance for the purpose of praising and honoring God through Jesus Christ. We use Christian music to accompany dance instruction. We begin all classes with prayer and end classes by bowing to each other (which is traditional dance etiquette) and bowing to Jesus Christ, acknowledging Him as our Lord.
We teach the classical styles of Ballet and Modern with the intention of giving our students every opportunity to explore dance while maintaining their modesty. We skillfully train up students to use the gifts that God has poured into them to honor Him. Each individual is uniquely created by God and we like to challenge each dancer to achieve her highest potential in dance and life. We believe dance is a very powerful tool to communicate the messages of salvation, hope, and the joy in the Lord, and also to display His Word through movement and expression.
WHAT IS THE EARLIEST AGE AT WHICH MY CHILD MAY BEGIN DANCE?
At The Core Theatre we offer a Creative Movement class in which children may enroll as early as three years of age. However, our policy is that “student placement is determined by the dance director based on skills displayed, artistry, maturity and age.” Obviously at three years of age, we are not looking for artistry or previous skills in the child. We are looking for the ability to recognize the teacher as the authority and follow directions.
In the dance studio, the activities are all teacher directed and in a wide open space. The student must be able to make eye contact with the teacher and follow instructions that require attention and coordination. The 3-4 year age recommendation is a benchmark for children to participate in this beginning level dance class. Every child is different; their gifts, strengths, attentiveness and coordination unfolding at the pace directed by God. There is no right or wrong in their development, it’s just their own uniqueness, which is beautiful and interesting, but, not one size fits all. So, there will be variances from child to child as to an appropriate time to begin dance.
Sometimes a child has a rough start, perhaps having trouble understanding a concept. In that case, the concept is explained and demonstrated until the child understands. Also, at this age children are just beginning to have a basic understanding of how his or her body moves. That is normal. A child may find it difficult to hold his or her heels together with the feet turned out in a “V” position. This may seem like a simple task to an adult, but it’s hard work for a young dancer. Again, this is to be expected and we patiently and repeatedly assist our students until they can perform positions or movements independently.
In very young children, though, the issue may not necessarily be that the child does not understand the movement or needs improvement in coordination, which will come over time, but that he or she is not yet able to be still and listen attentively to instructions and recognize the teacher as the authority. This requirement is not a judgement on the child himself or herself, but an assessment of readiness to engage in teacher directed instruction. Dance requires the coordination of mind and body and the ability to engage with the teacher. In a case where the child cannot or will not obey the instructor, we would have the parent give the child more time to develop and mature before enrolling the child in dance class.
DOES MY CHILD HAVE TO START DANCE WHEN SHE’S 3 OR MAY SHE BEGIN AT A LATER AGE?
Beginning dance instruction at a young age is definitely beneficial in training the mind, developing the body and becoming familiar with dance terminology. Nevertheless, a student may certainly begin dancing at a later age. Sometimes students who start later progress quickly because they enter upon their training with more cognitive maturity. Don’t let age dissuade you from pursuing your dream to dance!
HOW IS PLACEMENT AND ADVANCEMENT IN DANCE LEVEL DETERMINED?
The Director of Dance will consider the maturity and age of the dancer in level placement and advancement. The student must display the ability and willingness to listen to and follow directions. She must also exhibit mastery of the skills taught in her current level which would include clean technique, correct posture, proper body placement, articulation in footwork, balance, extended /stretched lines in her limbs, and overall body control.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A TINY, THIN BODY TO BE A DANCER?
Generally you can tell by looking at a person’s body what sport he or she is engaged in. Swimmers have big shoulders. Gymnasts have exceptionally developed thighs, shoulders and biceps. Weight lifters tend to have more muscular bulk and ripped abdominals. The particular type of activity develops the muscles very specifically. Because of the nature of the movement, dancers are recognized by the sculpting, line and posture of their bodies.
However, this does not mean that in order to be a legitimate dancer, one must be excessively thin. If you have a desire to dance, whatever your body type, then we encourage you to enroll in a class and begin your journey training and developing your body. Development and definition of the body will come over time as the dancer trains.
Obviously it is beneficial for the dancer to maintain a healthy weight based on his/her height and build because the athleticism of this art form is taxing to the body. The dancer will be able to execute movements and persevere through choreography if his/her heart and lungs are in good working order. The dancer should eat nutritious foods to support overall health. Health is the key here, not a number on a scale.
WHEN MAY A STUDENT BEGIN POINTE WORK?
In regard to age, a student may not begin dancing in pointe shoes until her growth plates in her feet are completely closed. The growth plate in each bone is relatively soft. Putting a student’s entire body weight upon soft bone can deform the student’s feet and cause irreparable damage and pain. A doctor would need to perform an x-ray to determine if the student is ready to begin pointe. Growth plate closure can occur by age 12, but may be later in some children.
In regard to skill, a student must have excellent posture, and exceptional strength to accompany her mastery of ballet technique. Therefore, a student’s readiness is determined by her teacher. Pointe work is not something to enter into lightly. The student must display a mature proficiency in dance skills before adding this level of difficulty. The earliest we start pointe work at The Core Theatre is in Ballet IV.
IS DRESS CODE IMPORTANT OR MAY I WEAR WHATEVER I WANT?
Following the dress code is very important. It shows that the dancer has a disciplined attitude and is respectful of authority. When all of the dancers are dressed neatly and uniformly, the clean appearance helps them stay in a purposeful mindset.
The clothing designed for dancers enables them to stretch and move freely while allowing the instructor to see the student’s posture, line and technique properly. Clothing that does not modestly cover the body is distracting. Clothing that is overly baggy can hinder the dancer’s ability to move and obscure her line.
The ballet dancer must wear a modest, properly fitting black leotard and pink tights with a black skirt that covers her hips but allows the teacher to see her knees. She must also wear pink ballet shoes. The dancer’s hair must be pulled back away from the face in a bun or twist. This gives the dancer a clean line, exposing the neck, and does not obstruct her vision. A dancer is disruptive to her peers and to herself if she is constantly tossing her head to whisk away loose hair or readjusting improperly secured hair.
The modern dancer must secure her hair as well, but may wear it in a pony tail. She may wear a solid colored, modest leotard with leggings. She may also wear a tank top or semi-fitted t-shirt over her leotard. She may wear ballet shoes or dance in bare feet.
WHAT IS YOUR POLICY REGARDING DANCE RECITALS?
There are different schools of thought in teaching dance. Some studios focus on specific choreography to be used expressly for performances and competitions. Students trained in this environment can be very impressive in the individual choreography, but when requested to demonstrate true dance technique, they have no storehouse to draw from. Classical dance studios teach dance in the same way one would learn to read and write. The alphabet enables a person to spell words; words can be connected to form sentences, and sentences can be crafted to express thoughts in all levels of writing. A classical studio begins by teaching basic vocabulary and movement and builds upon skills learned. Trained in this fashion, a student has a rich treasury of movement to pull from and can be taught choreography more easily because she has a solid foundation based on proper body alignment and detailed skill execution. We adhere to this philosophy. It goes along with the saying, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
We believe that our students need ample opportunity to learn and practice dance technique in order to become versatile and truly skilled. Therefore, we have a recital every other year. On recital years we spend the second semester working on choreography. We still give a warm-up and continue honing the dancers’ skills, but use the remaining class time to teach the recital dance. Dancers’ grow in artistry and expression through the choreographic process. Learning to express ideas through movement is vital to a dancers’ artistic growth and maturity. So, focusing strictly on technique one year and then coupling technique with choreography the next year makes a well-balanced, adaptable artist.
WHAT IS YOUR POLICY ON DANCE COSTUMES?
Our policy toward dance costumes is to glorify God with modest, yet beautiful garments. We are occasionally able to purchase pre-made costumes, but generally we custom make our dance garments to ensure that the dancers’ bodies are covered, including culottes or leggings when skirts are worn. We desire that our dance garments utilize beautiful fabrics and designs, but also complement the message of the song and the choreography.
WHAT IS MODERN DANCE?
Modern dance is a style that was developed by Martha Graham in the 1920’s and influenced by others who felt that ballet did not afford them the freedom to express their creative ideas through movement. Whereas ballet movement is very vertical and precise, modern allows the dancer to tilt, curve, contract, and work down onto the floor. Over the years this dance style has evolved as new artists develop their own unique signature in movement. That’s the beauty of modern dance, or contemporary, as it is now called. A dancer’s ideas are transformed into movement that may speak more eloquently than words.
WHAT IS BARRE’ FITNESS?
Barre’ Fitness is a type of exercised inspired by ballet barre’ work. In Barre’ Fitness we use an approach of deep knee bends, repetitive leg lifts, extensive abdominal work, and isolations of muscle groups to develop a strong, lean body. We employ balls, light weights, and the effects of gravity and resistance in our movements to augment the effects of our exercise.