I am delighted to introduce Amelia from Kicks Dance.
Now this makes me feel very old… Amelia was in Year 5 or 6 when I first moved down south to continue my teaching career, her gorgeous mum used to be a fab colleague of mine, and I taught Amelia’s youngest sister Florence for a year too! I also need to own up to accidentally banging in their dad’s prize Audi TT one day too!! ooppps (sorry Graham!!)
“You make me feel like a fairy”
That isn’t something most people hear on a typical working day. This is why I love my job so much. If I can make a 4 year old feel like a fairy every time she steps into my class, then I’m doing my job right.
My mum started ‘Kicks Dance’ nearly 8 years ago. After being a primary school teacher for 20 years, she decided that she would take her passion for performing arts and her love of children and start a dance school. My sisters and I all danced from the age of 3 and are trained in the usual Ballet, Tap and Modern. It didn’t take long for my mum to see the benefits. We stayed fit and healthy, coordinated, had good rhythm, musicality and posture…and these were only the physical benefits. She also noticed how dance helped us become motivated, hard – working, disciplined, driven and confident. Many of our best friends we still have today are from dance. I was a very shy and timid child and suffered from anxiety and childhood depression. My mum would be the first person to tell you that I was not the same child in my dance class. I took part in competitions and danced on the stage at a young age. I felt alive when I was dancing. The child I was at school and at home was not the same child that put on ballet shoes and twirled around the hall. Dance gave me a purpose. It gave me the confidence I needed to realise I could do anything I wanted. If I learnt a really hard new step in my dance class, then I could do anything. It didn’t happen overnight, but dance made me the happy, confident person I am today.
I started dancing when I was 3 and by the time I started school, I had made friends and taken part in a class that gave me the social skills and discipline that others maybe didn’t have. My first year at school was daunting and scary, but school was always ok on the days I knew I had dance class. Dance made me excited and a happier child. However, there was never enough dance at school when I was younger. When we did do ‘dance’ classes, it was always run by a reluctant teacher, to a cassette tape, where we had to roll along the floor pretending to be a plastic bag (ironically…I had to do that in my degree as well! It isn’t any more thrilling when you are 19!).
“The best dance class I have ever seen! Bringing dance to our school was the best thing we ever did. I have never seen the boys so engaged” (a happy teacher).
Whilst there is always a place for Ballet and dance schools that offer a stricter syllabus, Kicks Dance is more about having fun, getting fit and enjoying dancing. You don’t have to be able to do flips or hold your leg behind your head. You just have to want to dance and have fun with your friends; “‘Kicks sessions are very inclusive, so even those who don’t have natural talent can participate fully” (a happy mummy). Dance often (or used to) make children feel very segregated if they weren’t good enough, or if they couldn’t get that step as quickly as everyone else. That is absolutely not what dance is about. Programmes such as ‘Strictly come dancing’ and ‘Got to dance’ have made children want to learn how to dance and it is the teacher’s responsibility to take that passion and turn it into something worthwhile.
At Kicks, we run mainly after-school, weekend & Pre-School classes, but we also teach dance as part of the curriculum in schools, during P.E sessions for Early Years to Year 6. We try to make our classes engaging for both boys and girls (yes…the boys love it too!) and when a class is delivered with passion and enthusiasm (which is very easy to achieve when teaching dance!), the children are hooked from the beginning. Without giving too many of our secrets away (!), our classes always start with some warm up songs, which the children get to know off by heart over the 6 week course…dance teaches children memory and muscle memory. We then do exercises in a circle, routines from the corner, learn a dance in the centre and then play dance based games. It is so lovely to see the excitement on a child’s face when they walk into the hall and see us and realise they don’t have to sit down and do a science lesson…they can be free! The smiles when they work out how to do a step that they have been struggling with, is what makes our jobs worthwhile. Dance teaches children perseverance and patience.
They don’t realise that the clapping they are doing in that routine is helping them with their rhythm, which in turn is helping them grasp that really hard step in the other routine. They don’t realise that when asked to “freeze on one leg” their core muscles are engaged and their coordination is improving. Whilst they are stood watching in delight as their friends dance from the corner, they are learning to wait their turn. When they decide to hop on one foot, with their arms circling above their head, all they see is fun. We see creativity, coordination and an improvement in gross motor skills. When the Early Years children come into our after-school classes and get changed for dance, they are continuing what they are learning during the school day – getting dressed without mummy’s help! Learning in disguise…the best type of learning in my opinion!
“He is a much happier boy and Kicks has done that”
At Kicks we don’t make our children do anything they don’t want to do. Our catchphrase is ‘Every child is a star…give yours the chance to sparkle’. We want to help give children the confidence they deserve. We have met so many children who come to our classes as shy, timid little girls and boys who won’t let go of mummy’s leg. Within less than half a term, the change in them is immense; “My daughter always comes home happy after class. Dance class has also helped her gain some much needed confidence”.
If you look at the words I have highlighted, I don’t know how you can argue that dance and the arts isn’t one of the best privileges a child can be given:
Fit. Healthy. Coordinated. Rhythm. Musicality. Posture. Motivated. Hard – working. Disciplined. Driven. Confident. Purpose. Happy. Social. Excited. Memory. Perseverance. Patience. Creativity.
Remember, you have the ability to make a child feel like a fairy or a superhero.
*Every child is a star…give them the chance to sparkle*
By Amelia Russell
Owner Kicks Dance Horsham & Kicks Dance Crawley