Young Dancers and Private/Semi-Private Classes
As you know, I have a passion for teaching young dancers. It is something I will forever find important and of value. One thing that I have been asked about often is if there is a value in teaching young dancers individually or in small groups or is that something that is done only for a dance teacher to generate income. My honest answer is it depends on the student, the teacher, the studio and the needs of the family. I am not a person to say private and semi-private lessons are a perfect fit for every young dancer, but there are situations and cases when it is not only appropriate but it can also be a huge help to the young dancers dance career and self confidence before, or in addition to, their studio classes.
These are three situations where I have found private and semi-private ballet lessons to be of help.
The Young Dancers Have Never Had a Formal Ballet Class
When introducing a young dancer into a formal ballet class and a technique based studio, it is important to make sure that their transition into the class is as smooth and positive as possible. Although not every dancer trained will become a professional, it is my goal to create life long lovers of Ballet. I am hopefully creating grownups who will become patrons of the arts or perhaps work in the arts in specific ways. Yes, some will make ballet their profession, but to be honest, most will not. That does not mean that those I train should have an experience that is less than any other person in the class. To this outcome, I wish to make sure those who enter my classes have a smooth transition into my Pre-Ballet and lowest level ballet classes. Teaching the young dancer individually, will give them the confidence to walk into their class with a basic knowledge of classroom etiquette and vocabulary that will be used. In teaching the pre-school and early elementary school dancers what they need as they enter their Ballet classes in a one on one relaxed environment, the instructor is able to quickly able to introduce concepts to the dancers and correct mistakes in body placement or technique that there would not necessarily be time for in their technique class.
The Bouncy Young Dancer Who Needs a Bit More Time to Mature and Process
Not every human matures at the same pace or rate physically or mentally. Some young dancers may be physically ready to dance but lack the attention span to stay in a dance class that lasts for an hour or more. For these Dancers, I suggest private or semi-private lessons for a short time, and sometimes in conjunction with their regular dance training. This allows their maturity to catch up to their physical ability and technique. This also gives the student to have a concentrated lesson on something specific, and quickly change it to something else in fast succession using imagery that resonates with them.
The Curious Introvert Who Loves Ballet...But is Hesitant Around Other People
Not every student who walks into the studio is excited about being around a class full of kids or about being watched by that class full of others. For some, this is a frightening thought and causes them anxiety before, during and after every class. They do not wish to perform but at the same time they have a drive to dance. Those are the Young Dancers for whom private lessons help a great deal. They have a chance to hone their skills one on one before going into the class with a group. This allows them to understand the vocabulary and rhythm of the class and become more comfortable in their bodies before they walk into the world of the dance class for the first time.
Not every dancer is the same, and not every dancer will need or thrive with private or semi-private lessons. However, it should be an option for even our youngest students who wish to dance. Have you used private and semi-private lessons with your young dancers? How has it worked and when have you used it?