I will caveat this post with one bold statement: I am not a dancer.
That’s not to say I haven’t dabbled in a bit of dance here and there. I’ve given all sorts of things a go – from tap to ballroom. Just don’t mention the Country Dancing that was forced upon us at primary school. I always played the boy.
I suppose what I mean to say is that I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a trained, amateur dancer. I’m usually more about watching and photographing dance (both of which I love to do!).
My passion has always been more towards the music side.
Little Whirlwind has other ideas. As much as I try to encourage the music side of things, he LOVES to dance. To move and run and leap. And he takes such joy in it.
Then I noticed that as outgoing as LW is, at parties he was just watching while his friends danced and had fun. Too shy to dance in front of people.
And this made me sad.
I made a few enquiries about different dance classes available for his age group (he’s nearly 4), but nothing seemed to really fit what we were looking for. He’s a bit of a loose canon at the best of times, and although I would have no qualms in taking him to a ballet class, I just can’t imagine him fitting in with the more rigid structure the classes tend to take.
Then I heard that Svetlana (who’s set up the company OvDa, and is responsible for the amazing Tiny Steps performances) was setting up a new dance class for toddlers/preschoolers and their grown-ups, and we jumped at the chance!
I won’t lie. I was as nervous as the next introvert-mum-who’s-never-danced-in-front-of-anyone. But I had a hunch LW would enjoy it. So I took a deep breath, and joined the class.
LW mostly watched (and ran in circles round the room screeching) for the first few classes, and I worried I’d made a mistake. But Svetlana was so patient and encouraging, and LW told me after each class that he was having fun and looking forward to the next one. So we persevered.
We’ve now completed the first term and have begun our second term. LW is SO PROUD of his OvDa t-shirt, and can’t WAIT to get out of the house to get to class. He now joins in for most of the lesson, and is learning all sorts of technical manoeuvres (such as pliés and slides). He loves having permission to skip and balance and freeze-in-a-pose, and is learning about rhythm and dancing on different levels and how to move his body in different ways. He’s building his confidence.
And so am I.
Yes, we have to dance in front of people. But you know what, it’s actually FUN. In demonstrating to LW that it’s ok to let go a little bit, listen to the music and just move, I’ve learned that is IS ok to let go a little bit!
And the other thing that’s happened?
LW and I are bonding. We’ve gone from having hourly battles-of-wills to actually co-operating a little bit!
His favourite class activity beyond anything else is mirroring – where he dances and I have to copy him (and yes, Svetlana, you were absolutely right, we DO practice at home!).
He’s also honed his Robot Dance, which he’s usually happy to demonstrate, and which I have now seen at least one of his friends at preschool do.
Svetlana runs classes for different age groups. We do the “Creative Toddler & Parent Combo” class (for 2-5 year olds), but if your little ones are younger, why not check out her DanceMums class? I photographed DanceMums a couple of times over the last few years, and was so impressed with how friendly and supportive the group is (as well as being an excellent work-out for new mums).