Reigate Archives - Star Steppers

What Happens If – Risk Taking

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What Happens If…?

As most of you know at Star Steppers we are preparing for our next big show and the children are due to submit their show sign up forms any day now! What has really interested me is that some of the children have said they are not sure about performing in the show (this is common and not a surprise) but when I have spoken to them about the show it is not that they are nervous or not feeling confident but that they are not sure as they do not know what to expect. So if we unpack that further it seems that they are unsure about the risks involved?

Risk taking is definitely a scary business and when you are responsible for other children your natural instinct tells you to limit the risk as much as possible. It is better to be safe than sorry.

However I feel that if we never take a risk or if we don’t have a go or see ‘what happens if’; then we do not challenge ourselves. We do not find out whether we can, what is possible, what we will gain, learn, achieve and feel. I am also so impressed by the mature thinking of these young people who want to know honestly the risks involved in performing in a show but before I give my answers lets dig further.

Taking a risk involves decision making. As an adult I am pretty useless at making independent decisions and this could be due to my lack of risk taking. Once you have decided to take a risk whether it be to climb up the climbing frame or put your hand up and answer the maths question you then have to self evaluate the outcome. By taking the risk did you find out you can, that you have the skills, knowledge and ability? Was the action successful or not? Each time we repeat and carry out this process we develop stronger strategic thinking and confidence in our decision making skills.

Taking risks develops the body and mind. Once we have taken the decision to take a risk we find out what our body and mind is capable of, what skills we have. What physical and mental strength we have, we tap into our inner resolve and then we find out what we need to improve on; what personal goals can we set to further progress our physical and mental skills.
Taking a risk builds confidence. By taking a risk we may encounter failure or challenge along the way. It is so important to nurture in children that it is ok to make mistakes, that challenges are good for us to overcome. That sometimes we may not always achieve our aim on the first attempt, that we may need to practice, adapt, to try again. This process combined with positive encouragement helps children to build that inner steel, the confidence that allows them to have a go, and believe anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

So to answer all the lovely children who I have spoken to about the show and about the risks involved. The risks are….

‘I don’t know if I can do it’ During the process of performing in the show you find out what you are capable of, the amazing skills you have and how talented you are. You gain a sense of achievement, you gain confidence, you find out that you CAN.
‘I might go wrong or forget’ You may make a mistake, things may go wrong but you will discover that it is completely ok and that you will always be truly supported by your teachers, family and friends. Mistakes do not matter!
‘I don’t like being watched’ You will be stood on stage in front of a big crowd of 500 people but until you do that you will never know how it feels when they applaud you – stood under all those twinkling lights.
‘I am worried about being away from my family’ It is a long day and in that time nerves bind everyone together and friendships blossom, we gain new skills and have a completely amazing, fun time.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S.Eliot

To Be Or Not To Be A Super Star Stepper

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To Be Or Not To Be A Super Star Stepper

This term at Star Steppers we have been focusing our work on plays written by the awesome William Shakespeare. To some this could sound a bit boring, a bit too serious not really ‘Star Steppers’. But I’ll stop your thoughts there! We have of course explored Shakespeare ‘Star Steppers Style!’ – upbeat, creative, inclusive and, in the main, encouraging the children to explore, challenge themselves and to use their imaginations.

Our youngest groups Step 1, have explored the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ via the fun children’s film Gnomeo and Juliet, our middle groups Step 2 have been learning about the story of the ‘Tempest’ and our eldest groups Step 3 and 4 have been acting out and script writing the story of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

I have to say I was a little bit nervous at first telling the children that Shakespeare would be the theme for this term, I was expecting cries of ”No!”, yawns of boredom. However quite a different response, the Monday Cheam class actually clapped and cheered.

So off we went and 10 weeks later it has been a fantastic project, a learning curve and an exciting experience for all. One child actually said last week ‘you make Shakespeare more fun!’ Which made us feel we had, maybe just maybe, achieved our goal this term!

Step 1 have explored new and complex vocabulary, sung their hearts out to “Don’t’ Go Breaking My Heart” and danced their socks off learning partner steps and tricky stage formations in their ‘Love Story’ dance.

Step 2 have thrown themselves into the stormy waters of the Tempest and have been working on a beautiful piece of children’s theatre which they will perform especially for Step 1, including stage and prop management, physical theatre, sound-scaping, a Monster dance routine and underwater song.

Step 3 and 4 have created, written and directed their own monologues and duologues based on the infamous tale of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ and they perform them beautifully in an edgy, modern context. They have taken such pride in this project and we have been thrilled with how well they have engaged with the themes and story.

Wow! It has been busy but fun and a lot of in-depth learning and progress has taken place too! The progress the all the Star steppers have made is incredible. Children who once were shy are now proudly performing their lines with character and projection. Classes of children are working together as a team to change and/or create scenery, the work ethic and pride is immense and so wonderful to see.

At Star Steppers we pride ourselves in teaching the 3 main strands of performing arts; dance, singing and drama. The benefits of dance and singing often speak for themselves, however the role drama has to play is very important too.

At Star Steppers Drama is not only used as way for children to act out and narrate stories. It is a valuable learning tool and a successful way of building children’s confidence, speech, language and communication skills, team work, spatial awareness and to enhance their imaginations and to build upon their creative responses. The Star Steppers team plan and write each drama script (never ever bought and used directly form the shelf) as we want to ensure each child has an opportunity to act, speak, performa and shine and be the Super Star Stepper they deserve to be!

An interesting thought to leave you with……
“The future of our nation depends on our ability to create – and to be creative. During the coming decades our most important national resources will be human resources. If our nation is to continue to meet the challenges of the future, we need to develop creative leaders.”
From Performing together: The Arts and Education, jointly published by The American Association of School Administrators, The Alliance for Education and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1985.

So… Super Star Steppers, step forwards and be the leaders of tomorrow, of course in “Star Steppers Style!”

Believe In Me

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Believe in Me!

Star Steppers Classes

At Star Steppers on Saturday as part of our news circle I asked the children to tell me what they thought they were good at. I received some brilliant responses such as;
“I am good at colouring”
“I am good at swimming”
“I am good at writing”
The children freely and confidently told me about their strengths and talents. I repeated this throughout the week with older students and adults and what was interesting was, that as I spoke to older students and adults they found it increasingly hard to think about what they were good at and were almost embarrassed to confess they had any talents at all.

Following this I thought it would be interesting to explore the importance of self belief and what role Star Steppers classes play in promoting self belief.

First of all I wanted to look at the dictionary definition…..

noun. confidence in oneself and one’s ability. But there’s an alarming lack of self-belief about the team. His self-belief evaporated. I have a lot of self-belief and if I receive a negative remark I use it to motivate myself.

My reaction to this definition is disbelief, how can something so positive as self belief have one positive definition and 3 negative definitions? Self Belief to me is integral to survival!

I researched some scientific dance journals about the link between dance and self esteem and thought about how Star Steppers positively encourages self belief and ensures survival.

Empathy: Star Stepper teachers teach with care and understanding, listening to the children, using a collaborative teaching approach and encouraging the children to have empathy for other members of the class to ensure a coherent community in Star Steppers classes.

Developing Potential: Star Steppers recognises the strengths of individual children and the class as a whole and sets targets that the children are able to strive for and are always complimented for their achievements.

Realistic Aims: Star Steppers ensures class content is attainable and appropriate for our students so that they feel safe, not out of depth and gain a sense of pride and self satisfaction.

Equality: Star Steppers respects children and makes sure the ‘Star of the Show” is a different child every term!

Star Steppers says dream BIG and believe in yourself – now! xx

We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers and we create the dreams. Albert Einstein.

Life Without Ballet Is Pointe-less

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Life Without Ballet Is Pointe-less

Star Steppers Adult Ballet
Star Steppers Adult Ballet Class
At Star Steppers we have been running our adult ballet class in Reigate now for 3 years and it has become a wonderful community of men and women who share a desire to dance, to challenge the body, to engage the mind and take some valuable time out from their busy schedules.

It has been an honour and pleasure to watch their confidence develop, to see their bodies strengthen and tone, their technique improve and breadth of movement vocabulary increase.

Some of the ladies in the class even requested to do pointe work, to turn a childhood dream into a reality. Of course the answer was yes we can do pointe work but in the back of my mind my initial reaction was ‘ouch!’ as I recalled too clearly the painstaking hours I spent perfecting my pointe work at ballet school. The next week, in they came with new satin pointe shoes the same beautiful pink as newborn babies feet. At first they were tentative, a little fearful and there were a few exclaims of “this hurts!!!” However (6 weeks later) on Tuesday our last class of the Autumn Term the ladies achieved 8 exquisite échappé’s performed in the centre of the room without the aid of the ballet barre and multiple soutenu turns. Wow what an achievement and I told them how proud and amazed I was. Not to be patronising in anyway as I was honestly so impressed. If anyone has watched the challenge of pointe work you would be impressed too. And then I witnessed the true meaning of what this adult ballet class means to its participants. The warmth and happiness that glowed from the ladies as a smile trickled along their face from ear to ear, an inner feeling exclaiming self assurance and worth, their shoulders dropped, they grew a little taller and left the class with a bounce, talking excitedly to their friends about what they hope to achieve next term.

I am fully aware of how valuable this weekly class is to my lovely learners, they struggle with cancelled trains, run out of the house as partners take over childcare, carry the burden of daily stress into the dance studio. But once at the barre, the music strikes its first chord and the first plie is performed, harmony and happiness is restored yet again.

So what is the ‘pointe’ of ballet? Why do it? What are its benefits? Here are the main ‘pointe’s…

Improved cardiovascular fitness
Improved posture
Improved flexibility
Improved strength
Improved mental well-being

Surely the above is what everyone is looking for in a workout, the key components and how amazing all of the above can be accomplished in a ballet class. If you don’t believe me check out the following articles and and

We are so convinced by the wonder of ballet we have decided to open a new adult ballet class in Cobham in January. So please do come and join us…
Cobham – Sacred Heart Church Hall – Mondays at 7.30pm-8.30pm
Reigate – Reigate Community Centre on Tuesdays at 7.30pm-8.30pm.

For more information visit or contact us at 0781 0808 228.

Stage Fright

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Stage Fright

I am sure all of us have at one point felt the fear of having to speak to an audience, give a presentation, karaoke, best man speech and in the case of our Star Steppers performing to an audience that is not just Mummy, Daddy, Granny, Grandad, but a sea of unknown faces.

Hannah and I completely understand the panic the children feel, no matter how many weeks of perfect practice in that split moment nerves take over. However the end performance/ the end product is not what drives us to teach – we are far more excited by the process.

When we sit down to plan the terms work we consider the children first and foremost. Everything we do is child-led, after-all it is their class. We decide what skills need introducing and enhancing. We then create and develop our own syllabus of work; we do not rely on or follow a ready-made exam syllabus as a platform for our classes, which can be repetitive and boring. Instead we hand pick the music for our classes, choreograph our own dance routines, select our own songs (often rewriting lyrics) for singing and devise our own scripts. Thus the process starts….

Tentatively spoken lines that progress to clearly articulated spoken lines, with animation and characterisation.

Wobbly new dance moves that turn into impressive diva dance routines with dynamic, expression and a smile.

Songs quietly sung that turn into confident melodies delivered tunefully with good projection, narrative and an ability to bring a tear to the audience’s eye.

Stage fright has disappeared – we are in the presence of a class full of happy, confident children what happens thereafter doesn’t quite matter as we know lessons have been learnt and barriers have been broken.

As the famous lyrics go – “Its not how you start, Its how you finish’ and the children at the end of each Star Steppers termly performance will experience an inner sense of belief, knowing they can. The breadth of their valuable skills has broadened again, skills that they will draw upon and access over and over throughout their lives… when they step out to give their first lecture, present their latest creation, as they share thank you’s at awards ceremonies and maybe even as the first Star Steppers prime minister!

As the great dancer Isadora Duncan said “Let us first teach children to breath, to vibrate and to feel and to become one with the harmony and movement of nature. Let us first produce a beautiful human being, a dancing child”. A great philosophy to base Star Steppers classes upon don’t you think?

Star Steppers Summer Show
Willy Wonka in our Summer Show

New Beginnings – That September Feeling!

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Star Steppers Welcome
A warm Star Steppers welcome

New Beginnings

I have always loved September and the start of a new academic year, shiny new writing pads, sharpened pencils, a new pencil case (Hannah is also a stationery fanatic) and the promise of challenge and exciting adventure. In the case of Star Steppers it is perhaps new dance shoes and dance wear, an updated music playlist, new choreography, fresh melodies, crisp new scripts and lyric sheets, fun drama games and most importantly welcoming new children to our classes.

Eager, excited, expectant faces, a tiny bit nervous until one of our delightful Star Stepper members comes along takes their hand and invites them to sit next to them in the news circle. Then they are off and away and before they know it skipping down the room, hi-5-ing their new mate and jumping high into the air with happiness and innocent glee.

There will be many families about to experience just the same, as their children start new schools, colleges and universities and it is so important that both child and adult feel safe, reassured and has confidence that the experience will be a happy one.

Although I don’t have children (though very proud godmother to my gorgeous godson who I love to the stars and back and who is my wonderful best friend and co-director of Star Steppers’ son) I fully understand and appreciate how and why a young person’s first experience at a dance/ performing arts class is so important to get right. Believe you me I have had my fair share of good and bad experiences starting at ballet schools and these experiences have shaped the Star Steppers welcome that we aim to provide! Being introduced to the group, being placed where they are most comfortable and can see what is happening, being paired with a buddy, and a friendly, smiley teacher to say well done and that we really hope to see you again. Such simple things that can often be overlooked. This is why Hannah and I set up Star Steppers in the first place, to be different from your average dance school, to be a kind and warm place whereby children cannot wait to return to the class to learn the new dance routine, to sing that song, to play that game and to be with their friends.

The summer holidays are a great time for reflection and I have been thinking about our mission statement at Star Steppers and the promise that we deliver….

“Classes in a fun and safe environment. Young people are encouraged to develop their skills in dance, drama and singing as well as having their imaginations and creative minds nurtured”.

The key words being FUN, SAFE, ENCOURAGED, CREATIVE and NURTURED. I am proud to say that is exactly what Star Steppers does do! Children are not dictated to, not made to feel scared or stifled – in fact the complete opposite. We have managed to create a wonderful performing arts school where children are the heart and centre of what we do. Encouraged to share their ideas, which often form the basis of our work. Skills and techniques are taught in a collaborative way and every child is given the opportunity to shine.

So adults please feel safe and encouraged that your child will be nurtured and will have fun at Star Steppers and we look forward to seeing many new faces as well as our fabulous Star Steppers members in September.

Best of luck to you all as you start your new adventures and I cannot wait to hear all about them in the news circle!

Anna xx

Star Steppers Circle time
Star Steppers News Circle

Little Steps for Toddlers

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Little Steps

Star Steppers are delighted to announce the launch of their new ‘Little Steps’ classes.

The Little Steps programme is especially designed for 2-5 year olds and promotes the creative and physical education of young people through dance, music, singing and drama.

This unique Little Steps programme is designed by Hannah Gunning and Anna Brunton, using their experience of dance training, performance and their expertise of working with children in the Early Years Foundation Stages.

Classes are taught in a calm, nurturing, fun and creative way and aim to build the confidence, imaginative and physical skills of young people.
Class sizes are limited to maintain teaching quality and to ensure every child has the attention they deserve.

Our Little Steps classes for under 5s include…..

Thursdays 4.00-4.50pm for 3-5yrs

Mondays 2.00-2.45pm for 2-3yrs
Mondays 4.00-5.00pm for 3-5yrs
Fridays 5.00-6.30pm for 3-5yrs

Tuesdays 2.00-2.45pm for 2-3yrs
Tuesdays 4.00-5.00pm for 3-5yrs
Wednesdays 4.00-5.00pm for 3-5yrs

Saturdays 9.00-9.45am for 3-5yrs (Ballet)
Saturdays 10.11.30am for 3-5yrs

Thursdays 4.00-5.00pm for 3-5yrs

For more information or to book a free trial class please contact us / 07810808228

Anna Talks…. Ballet

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Anna Talks…. Ballet

I have had a long and volatile relationship with ballet; we have fallen in and out of love many times. However, since teaching ballet to many young people and adults, I have seen first-hand what a fantastic experience the Ballet Class can be and I have found peace at last and I can quite happily say I am now firm friends with ballet.

Anna Brunton - Director of Star Steppers

Anna Brunton – Director of Star Steppers

As a student training classically what I loved about ballet is that you did not need to talk, I was comfortable with being silent. Not having to express myself verbally just taking on board instruction and doing what I was told. I liked the discipline and the boundaries, I knew what was expected of me. I still believe boundaries to be an important part of the learning environment, they give a feeling of safety and from my experience young children especially like to know the ‘rules’ and what is expected of them.

However the strict, silent class environment I was used to is not suitable for all learners it can be suppressive and can stifle one’s ability to move and be expressive. One of the reasons why I feel passionate about teaching ballet is that I want to challenge the pre conceptions of how ballet is taught and create a learning environment in which the student has the opportunity to learn in their own way. Has the confidence to voice their thoughts, ask questions and the interaction between teacher and student is a healthy balance. I feel that ballet can offer more than technique to a dancer, ballet lends itself to being an educational tool for teaching people about their body and through my holistic teaching I hope to encourage dancers to have a healthy relationship with their body and mind. As a teacher I endeavour to have a class of thinking dancers, not robots.

I use the traditional ballet class structure as a basis for my teaching, the technical exercises naturally form a shape to the class and gives a sense of routine. I work hard to construct and plan creative technical exercises that ensure the effective flow and pace of a lesson which helps to maintain the engagement of the learners and the success criteria for learning can be a fun, gradual and progressive process. The ballet class offers repetition and consistency, enabling learners to become familiar and increasingly confident with the concept of ballet, however I give opportunity for my students to be creative and expressive as well as giving them a musical education.

The Ballet class is a wonderful and effective way to get in shape, it strengthens the core muscles, tones and lengthens the limbs, improves posture and increases flexibility, as well as challenging the grey matter. English National Ballet advocate the benefits of Ballet for people with Parkinson’s. Ballet is used as workout by many celebrities; Sarah Jessica- Parker trained at the School of American Ballet and is on the Board of New York City Ballet. Carine Roitfeld Fashion editor of French Vogue is filmed famously in her documentary Mademoiselle C, taking Ballet class and aims to do so 5 times a week as a workout.

So whether you are an adult wishing to try Ballet for the first time, or you wish to dust of your satin slippers and reignite a passion or you are a child wanting to make a dream come true and pirouette and Grand Jete across the room Star Steppers has the Ballet Class for you.

Come and try one of Anna’s Ballet classes for free…

Tuesdays: 4-5pm for 5-8yrs
Tuesdays: 5.05-6.05pm for 9yrs+
Tuesdays: 7.30-8.30pm for Adults

Fridays: 6.30-7.10pm for 8+yrs

Saturdays: 9.00-9.45am for 3-5yrs
Saturdays: 11.45-12.30pm for 6+yrs

For more information or to book a free trial class please contact us / 07810808228

Star Steppers New Adult Ballet Class in Reigate

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We are so thrilled to announce that we are opening a new Adult Ballet Class in the Reigate Methodist Community Centre in January 2014. Anna is a fantastic ballet teacher and we hope that lots of you will enjoy returning or discovering ballet and join us for this fun and uplifting class.

The class is open to all ages and abilities, no experience required. This is your opportunity to switch off from the stresses of everyday life and focus your mind on the graceful art of Ballet.

Please click here for more information.

Children Need More Exercise Say The BBC

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The health correspondant at the BBC, Nick Triggle, has said that studies suggest
“Half of all UK seven-year-olds do not do enough exercise, with girls far less active than boys.”

In a case study carried out by University College London, only 51% of the 6,500 children they observed were managing to achieve the recommended one hour of exercise a day. And for girls it was just 38% compared to 63% for boys.

If you think your child needs help meeting this daily target then our Star Steppers classes are an ideal way to keep your child active and healthy! With energetic dance warm ups, lively routines and even the challenge of singing whilst dancing your child can have a lot of fun whilst improving their…

* Lung and Heart strength
* Circulation
* Muscle strength
* Cardio-vascular system
* Self confidence
* Posture
* Socialisation skills
* Gross motor skills and brain power

The performing arts are also proven to reduce stress levels and help children to discover the importance of community and team work.

You can read the full BBC article here.