Ballet for the Ages

It’s been a wonderful spring season in the Atlanta ballet arena.  Our youth ballet has been working hard at their practice each day, incorporating many of the movements we learned through the Atlanta Ballet Company and their instructors who taught us over the holiday season.

Several of our children were selected for the tutoring offered by two of the star ballerinas in the Atlanta troop and spent over 10 hours in sessions perfected their steps and adding grace to their movements.

We our proud of our little ballerinas all of whom are participating in the spring performance of Atlanta Flowerbursts.  This ballet is about the growth of seedlings into beautiful flowers all expressed through performances by our girls who range from 4 to 18 years of age.

Our youngest will embodied the seedlings, bringing dance movements to mimic the growth of seeds in the soils to green stems we see bursting through the soil.

Our middle school students are the early flowers, giving life and color to the stems demonstrating the joy of growth and everyday sunshine in their lives.

Our oldest students are the mature flowers, gracing the the garden in a variety of blooms shown through individually crafted ballet movements that each girl orchestrated.

We are delighted to see such joy in the participation each girl has in creating part of the performance and contributing to the design of their costumes.

We look forward to our performance in Atlanta, Georgia later this spring.

Christmas in Atlanta

Our children had the best time over the holiday season visiting their favorite ballet companies, small and large.  We hosted two students from the Ukraine Ballet who also enjoyed seeing the various company performances.

They were surprised by the number of companies in only one city and we pulled a map up on google to show how many ballet companies there are across the country.

We realize how much effort has been put forward by small local groups to bring ballet front and center to audiences in towns small and large.

In Atlanta, we attended Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker performance twice.  The first time with our classmates to watch for our studies.  And second when we invited our Ukrainian friends to attend with some last minute tickets that were given to us by the sponsor of their trip.

It was excited to see the performance twice.  The first time the children watched to see the movements that they find magical and aspire to emulate.  The had to write a list of steps they had mastered in class and saw performed as well as new movements they’d like to achieve.

In class Saturday, each girl had to show one of the steps she had mastered and attempt one of the movements she was trying to achieve.

The second performance gave the girls and opportunity to analyze the movements in great detail having known what was coming.  It gave them a chance to further understand why perhaps they were not achieving certain movements and where they needed to practice.  And where they may need more strength.

Often in younger girls who have not developed the strength for many moves, find that their technique is correct, it is the strength they need to provide the graceful and delicate movements of more advanced performers.

Our Ukrainian friends had a wonderful time comparing their previous Nutcracker Ballet performances to this one in the United States. They described some more technical execution to which we were not familiar and the girls had a fun time showing each other steps they’ve learned in class in preparation for these performances.

We also hosted the visitors to a number of holiday exhibits and events to give them a taste of Christmas in the US.  Ice skating, picking out a tree in the north mountains and cutting it down ourselves, decorating the tree with what they refer to as “American” decorations, baking and decorating gingerbread houses and finally wonderful dance recitals to give them a taste of other dance genres including jazz, tap and a hip hop party my daughter was invited to and was able to bring her new friends.

Our Christmas holidays were blessed with our new friends and a reminder of what the true meaning of Christmas has always been.  We took time to remember those who are important to us and cherish those moments together, having fun at home baking cookies, singing songs and watching movies. This is what Christmas is about and what we love to do most over the holiday season.

Atlanta Youth Dance Programs

Dance programs teach children discipline and the value of hard work.  The parents at our organization are fond of ballet and have created programs that begin at toddler ages so you can start your child early in the fun and learning that comes with these programs.

There are other dance options and a variety of teaching styles so we thought we’d allow our parents to contribute their suggestions for some of the best dance programs they’ve found in Atlanta for youth participation.

The Dancer’s Studio in Alpharetta offers ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance.   Some of their most popular classes are hip hop which is what was in session when we visited.  Not only was the beat fun to move to as we watched from the observation window but to see the dedication and effort these children from 5 to 15 putting into their practice was a joy to watch.

You can see the precision with which they are making the movements and the angst when someone knows they are out of sync.  It is amazing to watch a room of almost 14 students perform the exact same movements with such perfection.   The arm turn and swivel forward was all in sync like the perfect precision of a machine.  Truly talented kids.  And you can see the dedication they’ve put into mastering this dance.

The Metropolitan Ballet Theater is also in Alpharetta, near Johns Creek, and is run by the former prima ballerina of the Atlanta Ballet Maniya Barredo.  She brings the high level expertise and trains dancers whose goal is to become professional. But what we admire most is she emphasizes the importance of schoolwork and ensures her students are in attendance while training with her.

Dan & Company is another option when you want to start dance programs when you’re kids are toddlers.   Located in Dunwoody, he takes children starting at age 3 and offers ballet, jazz and hip hop.  He offers a number of fun programs to introduce students to dance who may not be familiar including dance birthday parties and programs on the weekend.

Your local Y will most likely have some sort of dance program option. Throughout Atlanta, we’ve seen offerings for ballet, jazz, classical, hip hop, salsa and samba.  We are sure you and your children will find options nearby that can open the world of dance for your children.

If there is ambivalence or unfamiliarity, we’d recommend visiting a dance school who will welcome visitors who want to get a sense of their programs and allow a visit.  Or attending a production at one of the local theaters or dance houses may inspire an interest in taking a class if not a life long passion for dance.

We hope that you will explore the many dance options for children in Atlanta.  Our children’s interest in ballet inspired us to start this group and perhaps you too will find a group of children in your neighborhood who share the love of dance as well.  We’ve found that friendships are created both among the children and the parents as we all share our passion for ballet.



Students Visit Atlanta Ballet Co.

Our Saturday class met this weekend at the Atlanta Ballet Co. to see a live rehearsal of the upcoming Nutcracker performance.   We were enchanted to watch the dances that are so familiar to us being performed by professionals.   The music of Tchaicovsky rang through the air as we watched mesmerized by the performance.

We had a brief 15 minute “class” taught by Cindi Millardi who showed the girls many new movements.  It was wonderful for the girls to speak with a ballerina with years of experience who shared with them her story of getting into ballet which inspired our students.

We want to thank our sponsor again for covering the cost of this visit and our upcoming holiday experience.  We have video below to share our experience.


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Atlanta Ballet The Nutcracker

We are thrilled to announce that all of our students and instructors will be attending Atlanta Ballet’s holiday season performance of The Nutcracker.   A holiday favorite and the longest running production in the history of ballet, it provides magic and excitement for young and old alike.

The beauty and design of the costumes is breathtaking.  Several parents and students viewed the costumes from Ballet West’s production while they were on tour last summer.

The Saturday afternoon performance the second week of December will enable all of our dancers to see what years of hard work and dedication produce in these expert performers.  We want to thank our sponsor for this trip, a house painter in Johns Creek, who doesn’t want his name listed but offered to pay for a few students who otherwise would not be able to attend.

When asked which of the beautiful costumes students were most interested to see, many chose Vespri whose stunning gold and blue tutu is a favorite among many, young and old alike.   We may  see many of these tutus show up for Halloween in our neighborhood based on what the girls are sharing details of their costumes which will be fun for our class party.

Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet is the official State Ballet of Georgia.  They nurture young talent and produce spectacular performances every year.

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Building our Facebook Page

If you’ve ever wondered how the Facebook “Like Lock” works, you can check it out on our site.  We just installed this new plug-in to encourage visitors to “Like” our posts in order to unlock the content.

This was recommended by one of our students, Molly Shirer, who thinks this is the “bomb” for building Facebook likes.

More and more of our students are actively engaging in social media at younger and younger ages.    We had a 4 year old student checking out photos from a NYC ballet recital shared with her by a friend.  We burst out laughing at how “busy” she was and couldn’t be distracted with us trying to get her to join the class as it began and she said she’d get “right back” to class after she checked her messages:-)

We are looking for volunteers who are willing to work on our Facebook page.  We think posting relevant articles would be interesting for our following such as this post in TimeforKids about children’s ballet .

Social Media presents a world of opportunities for us to share our knowledge and experience on the value of introducing children to dance at young age.  Take a look at some video from our class yesterday below.  Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer.

Why enroll your child in Youth Ballet?

Many parents are surprised that dance is an option for children beginning at age 2.  They wonder what their child can accomplish in a “dance” class so young.

Encouraging social interaction between 2 year olds is the way to draw out a child who is shy by nature.  Those more active with other children, will learn how to coordinate as a team and build the excitement of learning new skills and performing in front of an audience as a group.  The additional physical activity, especially for honed dance moves are building strength in young muscles.  And accepting and implementing direction from an instructor builds cognitive skills that will serve the child throughout their educational years.

The health, social and cognitive skills it develops are surprising. and we encourage all parents to allow their children to experience dance in their early years.   And even if they don’t seem to “excel” and what two year old does in dance?, allow them to fully participate with love and encouragement from the family.  Sparking that interest in movement will bring tremendous health benefits to the child, providing active movement in the younger years and a full cardio workout when the child can more fully complete hand and leg movements that require developed muscles.

Seeing developed muscles means the child has built strength and exercises better control over these limbs.  The physical skills that have been developed in this process are outstanding and build a solid foundation for strength building and further refinement of coordination and muscle skills.  And the cognitive development that occurred built strong connections in the neurons to process movement instructions from the teacher and carry them out in physical performance.

Dance provides outstanding social skill development and by starting your child in dance at a young age, begins the socialization process of interacting with new people and being in new surroundings, which at first may seen scary.  This repetition of social interactions, learning instructions from the teacher and participating in activities that are new and unfamiliar.  These stretch the mind and body, enabling the child to reach new levels of development.

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Why Children Should Start in Dance at a Young Age

How do you channel the boundless energy of active kids? Outdoor sports are certainly an option to develop motor and coordination skills.  And team sports clubs start at a fairly young age.

Many of us parents in Youth Ballet have found that starting children at a very young age, even two or three years old is an excellent time to develop the coordination motor skills and wealth of other benefits that come from learning dance early in childhood.  And will build a number of skills that will aid them if they move onto team sports at any age

Outdoor play activities are another source for healthy exercise and socialization but often weather precludes outside activities for part of the year.   Or some children may seek additional play options or adventurous by nature and want to try new activities.  Kinesthetic learning often requires more active participation and dance is a great option. And some children are not interested in team sports and find self-expression in dance an excellent outlet for them.

Overall improvement in physical health is one of the primary benefits in participating actively in dance classes.  The stretching activities and movements build muscle tone and strength.  This increases coordination, balance and an overall Improvement in aerobic health.

This can help any children who may have weight issues.  The regular high level activity will burn calories and build muscle making for overall improved physical health.  It will also generate stronger appetites which is an opportunity to provide healthier foods to meet the increasing need for protein and nutrients to build muscle and provide energy for these activities.

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Our latest field trip!

Take a look at a clip from our field trip to Philadelphia.  Exciting for kids and adults!  Don Quixote.

Kinesthetic Learning

Many children at an early age are diagnosed as hyper-active among other labels, when their need for motion and movement is a sign that they are kinesthetic learners. Observing your child’s learning style from a young age will enable you to enrich learning opportunities by accessing those pathways most receptive to new ideas and cognitive function.

At a young age, Kinestheic learning is a means by which children learn by performing physical activities.  Instead of sitting quietly and watching programs on television, they may be unable to sit for period of time and are visibly more involved when visual aids or active participation are required.

Discussing learning styles with educators from primary levels forward, will enable you to see a better picture of your child’s learning style and inform the educator with past experiences.  Educators will find in assessing a kinesthetic learner that field trips, on-site explorations, hands-on trial-and-error approaches such as group activities, building, cooking, sewing, sports and yes even cleaning are learned quickly.  The steps and processes in the long term memory establishes faster than most children, and the principles from the task are understood rapidly.   You’ll find that activities are quickly assimilated and enable them to develop cognitive skills important for life at a young age.

Parents sometimes question how learning should take place in a classroom setting, especially as the children get older and 6 to 7 hours a day in school in the norm.  Children who are not good at taking notes may find that they are better at remembering actual things that happened so these experiences for learning are deeply rooted and remain part of the child’s memory and learning experience.  Another option would be to have students share their notes from class with another person and discuss those notes again making for a real actual life experience that will solidify the cognitive function.  Visual images and photos of the concepts and ideas in the lesson become “real” through imagination and are ingrained in their memory.   Bringing concepts to life in lab experiments, field trips, or actual applications at home are ways to reinforce learning that has occurred in the classroom.

In educational circles, educators should determine which of the VARK methods are most appropriate for each child:

  • Visual;
  • Auural;
  • Reading-writing and
  • Kinesthetic.

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