October 2014 - Star Steppers

Little Steps Makes Big Steps

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Little Steps Make Big Steps

Hannah and I have had lots of fun this term trying to hone our toddler teaching skills. Recently, we have had the wonderful pleasure of teaching tiny people from babies to tots each week in Reigate Priory Park. These sessions have been free to all who attend and come rain or shine we are greeted by eager faces who cannot wait to wiggle and groove and of course belt out ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. What has been amazing to witness is the fast progress these tiny people have made, stronger on their feet, better balance, improved coordination and gained confidence in expressing and sharing ideas for role play and creative play.

It’s free, so I hear you asking the question what does Star Steppers get out of it? Well I cannot deny Hannah and I love the cuddles we receive and the tiny hand that finds its way into our palms fills us with a warming love and the cheeky smiles that often meet our stressed and tired faces make us laugh. Hannah and I have learnt that yes the practice of teaching traditional nursery rhymes has its place but children already know those tunes and have actually taught us the actions (we are now professionals at performing nursery rhymes and I am sure that one day this will come in useful when faced with the role of entertaining our own children!!) Children love modern, upbeat pop songs whether it’s Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ that they love shaking to or singing a lovely Disney song, holding a pretend microphone and performing like a pop star. Their little faces light up and awaken, they are completely engaged in the activity and one of our favourite lines we hear is ‘My mum has that song in the car, I know this one’ and we know that when driving home and the radio is on playing Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ further learning is taking place and being embedded in these young minds. However the main reward is seeing the benefit dance, singing and drama has on the lives of little people and we strongly feel that this should be an opportunity experienced by all willing tots.

Even though as Head of Performing Arts at a Pre-Prep School working with Nursery children to Key Stage 1, I observed first-hand the benefits creative subjects had on the academic learning of young people, the experience of seeing the benefits of dance, drama and singing out of the school environment is over whelming. If you don’t believe me please read the following research taken from the National Dance Education Organisation…

“Dance is pre-verbal, beginning before words can be formed. Children possess the natural, spontaneous ability to move and dance before they have command over language and is stimulated when thoughts or emotions are too powerful for words to contain.”

“Children move naturally. They move to achieve mobility, they move to express a thought or feeling, and they move because it is joyful and feels wonderful.”
“Dance is a natural method for learning. Children learn movement patterns as readily as they learn language.”

“Dance is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively.”

“Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and kinaesthetic memory. Young children are naturally active, but dance offers an avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills.”

“Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of themselves and others through creative movement.”

“Social Awareness: Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic.”

“Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea, problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and, ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world.”
 
Please visit http://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=893257&module_id=55419 regarding this research and for more information.

So Hannah and I have found our method; fun, upbeat, energetic, engaging classes but we are not going to give all the answers away in this blog so please do visit our toddler classes to wiggle and groove with us soon.

Anna x

Performing Arts For Boys

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‘Let’s hear it for the boys!’

Performing arts classes are not just for girls and we spoke to some of the boys who attend Star Steppers to see what they think about it…

‘I like Star Steppers because I get to see my friends and dance.’ – Jake
‘Thank you for running Star Steppers I love the cool dance routines that you teach us.’ – Henry
‘Star Steppers is fun, star steppers is great. Come and join in we’re having so much fun. I like drama you might too.’ – Ethan
‘I like it because you get to show your family what we have done. My favourite thing is dance.’ Ben
‘I like Star Steppers because it’s active.’ – Joel
‘It is enjoyable for everyone.’ – Oliver
‘I like star steppers because I love singing, dancing and acting and its very fun.’ – Harry
‘I go to star steppers because it is cool and we do shows.’ – Billy
‘Star Steppers is because we do lots of fun activities.’ – Daniel
‘I love star steppers, it is the best club in the world.’ – James
‘I joined star steppers because I wanted to be a good dancer, a good actor and a brilliant singer. I got to do all those things because star steppers helped me do all of them. Come and join it’s the best club you will ever join!’ – Joseph

These were just some of the comments we collected from the 31 boys aged 4- 12 years who took part in our bi-annual Star Steppers show. Each and every one of them took to the stage, performing song and dance numbers and came off the stage beaming and buzzing with the joy and success of their performance. They loved it and it was such a pleasure for Hannah and I to witness.

Hannah and I have the amazing opportunity of teaching boys in all of our Star Stepper schools 6 days a week. Their energy, creativity, physical ability bring an exciting dynamic to the class and every single one of them are keen and eager to learn new dance skills, to sing and to act. Our team of teachers work hard to ensure Star Stepper classes meet the demands of the mixed gender learner groups and we can confidently say that the boys and girls thrive from learning from each other, form confident friendships and we believe they gain a higher learning and social experience.

Sometimes dance isn’t even considered for boys and is seen as a hobby for girls. However dance requires stamina, strength, agility, coordination, flexibility, agility, discipline and focus, the same skills required to perform well on the football pitch and there are many famous footballers who use ballet and dance to support their training and attribute ballet to their success on the pitch. Rio Ferdinand started out at ballet school! Each week the boys at Star Steppers develop these skills through learning technical dance skills, dance routines and choreographing their own dances. The boys at Star Steppers love to be creative and we encourage this, as it gives opportunity for them to develop their artistic skills and gain confidence in self-expression and communication.

The boys that attend Star Steppers have done so for a long time and are truly committed and I believe this is because our philosophy at Star Steppers is to engage, nurture, inspire, develop and ensure equality.

One of my favourite quotes is by Ashley Page, the male Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet ‘Dance is capable of transcending perceived barriers and enriches the lives of so many others.’ And I do believe Star Steppers has given a positive dance experience to the boys who attend our classes and I am sure they will go on to share their love of dance and performance with others and will spread the word that ‘boys can dance too.’