My Baby’s First Dance Class – What Do I Do?

So your little girl or boy (or big girl or boy) has been asking to start dance classes? You know how much they love music, you see that they have an uncontrollable urge to move when their favourite song comes on, you’ve watched them obsess over dance related tv shows and movies and try to copy the dance steps in front of the TV. You would love to sign them up to dance class and make their dreams a reality but just as going to a new dance school can be daunting for your child, often it can be as equally daunting for you, a first-time “dance mum” or “dance dad”.

Never fear! Your guide to your child’s first dance class is here to help you get through the process; before, during and after.

BEFORE CLASS.

  1. Do your research. Google Maps is a monopoly board of dance schools in your local area. Each one of them will be different and have something that makes them special. Their “special” might not fit you and your child though. There are many factors to consider when picking a dance school; location, price, the culture of the school and qualified teachers to name a few. Think about what your ideal dance experience will be; do you want a high level of commitment and elite level performances? Do you want a recreational class for fun? Check out each dance school’s website and social media pages to find a school whose vision matches yours. Ask questions! Call up and inquire. Don’t be afraid to inquire at a few different schools until you find what you’re looking for.

  2. Book in. Just as you and your child need to be prepared, so do your teachers. Make sure that they know you will be attending class. Some school’s have an online booking system and others will take your booking via phone or email. Booking is important to ensure that there is space in that class for your son or daughter. Nothing is more disappointing than building up the excitement of dance class only to arrive and be told that that class is full. It is also a good opportunity to tell your teacher a little bit about your child. Maybe they have learning difficulties or a language barrier or are just generally very shy. A good teacher will take this on board and be prepared to create the best experience possible for your child.

  3. Talk about dancing. Often a dance class environment can be quite daunting for first timers, especially younger children. A dance class is a structured activity and while heaps of fun, is very different to just dancing around in the lounge room at home. Children who haven’t yet participated in a structured activity like school, kinder or lessons will take more time to grasp the concept of following directions in a group. The environment itself can be quite daunting too, a big echoey studio, loud music, other children and a new grown-up telling them what to, Talk to your child in the weeks leading up to class so these things will be less of a shock to them. Some things you can say are:
  • “Your dancing teacher’s name is Kristie and she is so excited to dance with you.”
  • “I’m so excited to take you to see your special dance room,  are you?”
  • “There are going to be lots of other little boys and girls dancing with you today, that’s exciting isn’t it?”
  • “Your dance teacher, Kristie, is going to teach you lots of special things. Try to copy and listen.”
  • And the most important one: “Don’t worry if it’s tricky. Just try your very best and have fun”
  • You could also show them photos or videos from your school’s social media pages of dance routines, the studio or even their teacher.

4. Be early. Arrive about 10 minutes early to give your child time to settle in, meet their teacher, go to the toilet, become familiar with the space, put their dance shoes on and relax. Arriving late or rushing in creates a stressful experience for the child who is most likely already feeling a little bit unsure. It is also disrupting to the teacher and the other little people in the class. When a child arrives late they miss out on class introductions, a comforting and settling chat from their teacher and the warm-up. All of these are essential to a well-rounded class.

DURING CLASS.

  1. Stick around. Depending on how old and how independent your child is, it’s a good idea to wait for them during their first lesson. Check with the teacher to see if it’s ok to watch their first class, every school will have a different policy. If you are allowed to watch, this is a good opportunity for you to get a feel for the school, see how the teacher engages with your child and to make sure they’re having fun. If you will be waiting for your child in the parent lounge, you could show them where you will be sitting to assure them that you aren’t too far away.

  2. Don’t take photos or videos. This is a policy most dance schools have in place as part of their Child Safety Policy and Code of Conduct. It ensures the safety and comfort of all students and parents. Imagine you as a 4-year-old, in your very first dance class, looking up to see a grown-up you don’t know taking your picture. Or imagine you as an adult, looking across the room to see another adult you don’t know filming your child’s dance class. From a copyright standpoint – it is actually against the law. Dance schools pay lots of money to be able to use and reproduce music in class, concerts and social media videos. What’s more, it is very awkward for you, the teacher and the other parents when the class has to be stopped so that you can be asked to stop filming. If you would like to capture the special moment, a photo before or after class is a better idea.

  3. Try not to discipline your child. It can be so tempting to call out “Mia – listen to Kristie” or “Sienna – are you concentrating!?”. It is expected for little people to get distracted during class and your teacher will be prepared for it. If it’s your child’s first dance class, they need to learn that for the next 45 minutes their dance teacher is the boss, not mum or dad. It is confusing for them to have instructions coming from all different directions and often will have the opposite effect. Remember, your teacher is a qualified professional. If they think your child is particularly disruptive or not quite ready for dance class, they will have a conversation with you about it. Sit back and relax and leave it to the pros.

  4. Don’t be disruptive. Switch phones off and refrain from a catch-up session with the other parents. Chatter can be really distracting for students AND the teacher. If possible, ensure your other children are looked after and entertained, not disturbing the class. Younger siblings, in particular, can be a point of distraction for big sisters and brothers who want to look after their younger sibling or want them to join in the class.

AFTER CLASS.

  1. Ask your child what they thought. Did they have fun? Would they like to come back? Was it scary? What was your favourite part? Often what you watched in the classroom can be different from what your child feels. There are many factors that determine where you send your child to dance but your child’s happiness should be high up on your priority list.

  2. Chat with the teacher. You might have questions or concerns or you’re not sure if that was the right class for your child. Voice these with the teacher. He/She may ease your concerns or they might know of a class that would be better suited to your child.

  3. Try again. For many little boys and girls, it can take a few classes to settle into the dance school environment. As mentioned earlier, it is a structured activity with many variables; loud music, lots of other children and parents, a new place, a new grown up, all of these things can trigger nerves and emotions even in the most confident of children. If your child loves to dance but struggled with their first lesson, it may be worth persisting for a few more classes. Every child is different and like with all things, each child will take to dance in their own way and in their own time.  

  4. Relax. Remember not to expect too much from your little dancer. Dance is a progressive art form and the skills involved take time to develop. They won’t be turning, leaping or performing cartwheels in their first class. Remember it’s not just about the dance steps. It’s about developing the whole person. From social skills to confidence, musicality and counting, healthy muscles and bones and making friends!

And the last thing; cut yourself some slack. Signing your child up to dance can be stressful. It means more bills to be paid, more uniforms to buy, more emails and newsletters to read and yet another after-school activity to get to on time. It may take you a while to find your own dancing feet but if you are feeding your child’s passion for dance, you are already doing a wonderful thing. Just take a deep breath, do your research and trust your instincts.

By Chloe Jobson – Co-Owner at Main St Funk Dance School Epping

January 2019

Hello and welcome back to another fabulous and funky year at Main St Funk. We are so pleased to see so many returning students and as equally excited to meet so many new students and their families. We are ready and roaring for a big year of dance and hope you are too. Here a few things to note as we kick off 2019.

When do classes commence for 2019?: We start back on Monday, Feb 4th.

What’s new in 2019?

  • A brand new age group! We now cater to children as young as 2.5 in our new Petite classes. Spread the word!
  • We welcome Tiana Lay from our Teen classes to the assistant teaching team. She has been dancing with MSF for nine years and makes a fabulous role model.

Location: Our address is 6/13 Lydia Court Epping 3076. We are located behind Bunnings on Cooper St.

Parking: MSF Students and parents are not permitted to park inside the complex. There is ample street parking available. We appreciate your co-operation with this as it helps us maintain a good relationship with our neighbouring tenants who need access to their car spaces at all times. When you park in their spots, we get in trouble. It is also a safety hazard for our students who walk up and down the thoroughfare, to have cars pulling in and out.

Uniform: Over the next few weeks please ensure your child is equipped with the correct dance attire and shoes as outlined on our uniform guideline here: https://mainstfunk.com/uniform-guidelines/

Parents:  Main St Funk do not allow spectators in the classroom except in the case of it being a child’s first class or if the teacher specifically invites the parents in. Please make use of our comfortable lounge area and tea and coffee facilities while you wait for your child to finish their class or you are welcome to drop and go. During your child’s first class with us you are welcome to watch but please ensure other siblings are supervised, phones are switched off and talking is kept to a minimum to limit distractions.

NO PHOTOS OR VIDEO POLICY: As per Main St Funk’s Child Safety Policy and Code of Conduct; parents, guardians, siblings and/or friends are not permitted to take photos or videos while class is in process. You are welcome to take photos of your child before or after class. The MSF code of conduct is agreed to upon enrollment. Please ensure you have read this: https://mainstfunk.com/code-of-conduct-child-safe-policy/

Fees: Term fees are due in the third week of each term and payable by online transfer, cheque or cash in a clearly labelled envelope. If paying online, ensure you put your child’s last name in the description.

Enrollment:  We are still accepting enrollments from new and returning Main St Funk students. If you haven’t enrolled or booked in for an obligation free trial class please do so asap on the parent portal. Many classes are already full with waiting lists but there is still lots of room for all of you. Enrol here: https://dancestudio-pro.com/online/mainstfunk

Important Dates: We are pleased to have locked in The Magis Theatre Loyola College (Watsonia) once again for our end of year performance and compulsory theatre rehearsal.  This year we will hold two concerts and two rehearsals. The school will be split into two casts – so each class will only perform in one concert ( and will be required for one rehearsal).  We will split the school later in the year when everyone has settled into their classes so please pencil in both concert dates and both rehearsal dates for now before we confirm which cast your child will be in. Senior and Teen students, you will perform in BOTH concerts. Petites will not perform in the concerts.

COMPULSORY THEATRE REHEARSAL: The rehearsal is the one and only compulsory event we run throughout the year and attendance is mandatory for all students who wish to participate in the end of year concert.

CAST 1: Wednesday 20th of November

CAST 2: Thursday 21st of November

END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE:

CAST 1: Friday 29th of November

CAST 2: Saturday 30th of November

Our important dates page and google calendar are updated throughout the year to include things like; term dates, performance opportunities and mid-year concert. Check it out and sync your google calendar to ours so you never miss a reminder: https://mainstfunk.com/dates-events/

Comp Crew: We are still taking expressions of interest to join our friendly and inclusive competition team. No auditions required. More info here: https://mainstfunk.com/crew-competition-team/

Social Media: Make sure you are following Main St Funk on Facebook and Instagram. We love to post daily to give you inspiration, a sneak peek into our classes and to stay connected with our dancing family.

www.facebook.com/mainstfunk

www.instagram.com/mainstfunk

The most important thing to remember this year is that Main St Funk students dance for fun and because they love it. We encourage an inclusive, harmonious environment where our students are dedicated to their class and committed to working to the best of their ability, as a team. We are proud of the way we have mastered the balance of working hard and having fun and we are happy to have each and every one of you on board for 2019.

We are so looking forward to seeing you in the studio for a big year that’s all about dance! If you have any questions please shoot us an email!

Kristie, Carla and Chloe. x

#BOYSDANCETOO – Why we choose to provide co-educational dance classes.

A wonderful thing is happening in suburban dance schools around Melbourne, and the world…more and more boys are taking dance classes! This is fantastic for the ever-growing dance industry but more so for the young males who will receive all the benefits that learning to dance has to offer. If you’re not sure of the benefits of dance here is a super quick summary:

  • Fitness and agility
  • Strength
  • Healthy muscles and bones
  • Confidence
  • Self-expression
  • Mental Strength
  • And more! The list is never-ending.

Slowly but surely the “girls do ballet and boys do football” stigma is being squashed and many parents are embracing dance as an engaging and beneficial way for their sons to release their never-ending energy, express themselves and have fun.

Once he has voiced an interest in dance and music, mum and dad usually set out on a hunt for a “Boys Only Hip Hop Class” and “Dance Classes for Boys”…. but why? In 2019 when the fight for equality is high and there is a strong push for embracing every individual and all of their quirks, and all stereotypes and stigmas are being thrown out the window, why do boys need a dance class all to themselves? At Main St Funk we say, they don’t. We pride ourselves on providing co-educational dance classes to boys and girls of all ages and experience levels, not just because we aim to be fair and equal but because there are clear benefits to both genders in a co-educational dance class environment.

So what are they?

  1. It builds trust, respect, and boundaries and prepares them for the future.
    Upon leaving the dance studio, your child will re-enter a world that is 50 percent female and 50 percent male. They will interact with the opposite gender for the most part of every day of their lives; school, work, friends, family, playgrounds, the shops…what benefit is there in separating them at dance class? Learning together in an intimate environment such as a dance studio allows both parties to gain a better understanding of each other. They will know how to speak appropriately to each other, they will learn to understand each individual’s boundaries and it will teach them to be more empathetic to the opposite gender. Learning together builds trust between the two genders and diffuses the idea that we should be wary of people who are different to us; no more “cooties” or “boy germs”. Dance class can often be a “hands on” environment, boys will learn how to treat and respect women, which is such an important quality today and one that all boys should be learning. 

  2. A career in dance means a career with girls.
    If your son’s love for dance develops so strongly that he decides to turn his passion into a career, he will have no choice but to dance with girls. Tertiary level full-time dance courses are typically not gender specific. Which means if your son was to further his training on a more professional level he would be spending close to 40 hours a week in a dance studio, with women. That would be a pretty big shock to the system for someone who has only danced in a male-only environment. What’s more, a lot of professional dance gigs are diverse in gender and if your son is not capable of working with female dancers, it could cost him a job, his reputation, and even his career.

  3. Partnerwork.
    As mentioned above, most performance opportunities, whether it be a  corporate gig or a role in a show, are co-gender. Many choreographers love to feature partner work and lifts (think the famous lift in Dirty Dancing). Older boys, in a co-educational dance class, will have the opportunity to learn partner work and add lifts to their lists of skills. If you can tell an audition panel that you are confident and familiar with safely performing lifts and stunts and dancing with a partner, you are already at an advantage and will stand out amongst dancers who do not share the same skillset as you.  This is also an advantage for female dancers. If there are males in your dance class, you have the opportunity to learn new skills and tricks that might not typically be available in an all-girl environment.

  4. Boys and girls learn from each other.
    Throughout my years as a dance teacher, I have experienced both co-ed and boys only classes. Generally speaking, the boys only classes were rowdier and less structured. Girls, on the other hand, are more naturally adapted to the structure and routine of a dance class, it’s in their nature. Even though the boy students so needed and would benefit from structure and routine, it was harder to implement into a class environment where the pack mentality was “it’s playtime”. In a co-ed environment, the students are influenced by the other children in the class. In particular, the boys gained a quicker understanding of the way a dance class is structured and why it is structured that way. When the rest of the class is following suit in warm up and activities and remembering choreography the boys caught on and did the same. They were still having fun but receiving the benefits of dance class much quicker! In the same way, girls are also influenced by male students. Boys bring the energy up and create a positive vibe in the studio, which as you’ve heard MSF teachers say before “energy is contagious” Boys are naturally brave and will give new steps or activities a go without much hesitation, this “go for it” attitude rubs off on the other students. Lots of boys love the opportunity to lead by example and be a role model. In a co-ed environment, they often rise to the challenge by setting a great example and encouraging their classmates. Voila! Now we have a high energy, productive class where kids are having fun and trying new things. Thanks, boys and girls!

  5. It promotes equality and fairness.
    Whether your child is male or female, young or old, beginner or advanced, at Main St Funk we treat all of our students as equals. We don’t want to tell boys that they can only participate in one particular style of class a week. We don’t want our female students to just accept that boys are entitled to a class that is exclusive and special just for them. Boys and girls, you are all important to us and we want you to feel comfortable in all of the many classes and opportunities we have available to you. And really, in 2019 when everyone is fighting for equality and acceptance, why are dance schools moving backward and continuing to segregate boys from girls? A good dance teacher should be able to cater to all of the individuals in the classroom and create a dynamic learning environment that benefits every student. It doesn’t matter if the class is co-educational or not, there will always be a variety of learning styles and personalities that the teacher needs to adapt to.

And so, the short version of this blog: “Why Should You Enrol Your Son Into A Co-Ed Dance Class?” A co-educational dance class will encourage your son to be a team player and to have a strong work ethic. Not only will he learn some killer dance moves but he will grow into a respectful, approachable and trustworthy young man who has an open mind and is prepared to live, work and dance in a diverse world where both genders play an important role.

During my time as a dance student I made many friends, lots of whom were male. So at the very least, a co-educational dance class might mean your child makes a few extra friends that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to.

Right now, your son is probably just dancing for fun and to let off some of that after-school steam but at Main St Funk we see the bigger picture.

By Chloe Jobson – Co-Owner at Main St Funk Dance School and dance teacher to boys and girls for over 12 years.

Picking the Perfect Dance School – Using Your 5 Senses.

Well, the world has just said goodbye to one year and welcomed in another. The celebrations are nearly over which means that we barely have time to get over our food comas before we have to start getting organised for 2017. For many of us this means settling back into work while juggling the countless trips to and from the stationary and uniform shops to get the kids ready for another year of school.

On top of that, at some point about three weeks ago, your son or daughter looked up at you with big puppy dog eyes and said “I want to start dancing.” It has been at the forefront of their imagination and nag-ation (that’s not really a word but it means constant nagging) and now you’re convinced that it’s what they really want to do. So, you sit down and google “Dance Classes Northern Suburbs” and BAM! You’re hit with more than 15 dance schools in your area and that’s just on the first page. It all seems too overwhelming and you’re wondering if you can plonk your child in front of the TV watching reruns of Dance Academy instead.

No, you can’t and you don’t have to. All you need is your 5 senses and if you like everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste, then you’ve got a winner!

SIGHT

  • Make sure you sit in and watch your child’s first lesson. It is important that you see what goes on in the classroom. Things to look out for are; is the class structured? Does the teacher have control of the room?
  • Take in your teachers’ body language – is he/she warm and inviting to the students?
  • Most importantly look at your own child. Are they comfortable and are they actively being included by the teacher and the other students?
  • Look at the other students coming and going to class. Are they leaving the studio elated, smiling and laughing? Or do they seem defeated and down?
  • Is it safe? Would you feel comfortable leaving your child there for an hour or more each week?
  • Are they using safe dance practices i.e. warm ups, cool downs and teaching the correct technique to prevent injuries?

HEARING

  • Listen for positive reinforcement and encouragement. Remember that corrections are a good thing but if you hear criticisms that aren’t constructive, it might not be a very positive environment.
  • Listen to the music. Are you comfortable with what’s coming out of the speakers? Is it age appropriate? Are the kids engaged? Do they enjoy dancing to it?
  • Ask around! Pop your head into the parents room and hear what the other mums are saying. Ask them why they picked this school. It pays to be nosy!
  • Now it’s just as important to take note of who’s hearing you. Did the staff at the school listen and acknowledge all of your questions or concerns?
  • Is your child being heard? Will he/she feel confident to put her hand up and ask questions in class?

TOUCH

This one is a little abstract but I think it’s one of the most important. When investigating dance schools you need to get physical. I would never recommend a child to sit and observe their trial class. They need to be up and giving it a go. It may seem like throwing them in the deep end but watching a class is usually more intimidating and leaves them feeling even more nervous about coming back the following week (that’s if they want to come back at all). Remind them that it is normal to feel nervous and that being the beginning of term, they probably aren’t the only first timer in the room.

SMELL

This may seem a bit silly but smell is important.
When you arrived did the studio smell clean and looked after? While this is good for hygiene and preventing the spread of germs that kids bring in from childcare and school, it also shows that the staff care about the studio and its patrons. Clean and tidy is a reflection of a great work ethic and that’s what you should be able to expect from your dance teachers.

TASTE

Now I’m not going to suggest that you literally go and lick the floor of the dance studio. Unless you think that would help then by all means…
It is so important that you get a real taste for the school before you pay any fees or sign any forms. Go to as many free trials and open days as you can. Ask to watch classes or even go along to any upcoming performances the school might be having. Trust your instinct here. Usually, if it feels right then it is right but don’t forget to find out how your child feels about the school too. While something might seem logical because of the price and the location it still might not be the right fit for them. Your child’s happiness and well being should always be the priority.

By picking the perfect dance school you are the picking the place where you will watch your child’s confidence grow and where they will meet their best friends. You are picking their solace, the place they look forward to going to after a long day of school. You will have your dance school to thank for all the years of blood, sweat, tears, laughter, fond memories and that cupboard full of childhood costumes that you won’t be able to bring yourself to throw away. So use your 5 senses wisely and pick the perfect dance school for your child.

By Chloe Jobson – Main St Funk Dance School Lalor