handstand competitions at our jiu jitsu lesson!

ACTIVE ARTS: SPOTLIGHT ON… JIU JITSU

ACTIVE ARTS: SPOTLIGHT ON…JIU JITSU

Animal races, break falls, handstand competitions, and the circle game…sound mysterious??? It’s all part of the super cool jiu jitsu lesson that awaits our Active Arts workshoppers!

handstand competitions at our jiu jitsu lesson!

 

Jiu jitsu gives our workshoppers the chance to learn the basics of self-defence and build their confidence as they work in pairs and groups on new moves and a range of fun games.

My personal favourite activity in this session is “Animal Races”. It sounds sweet, but this game really works up a sweat!  Students have to move from one side of the delightfully squishy mats to the other moving as a particular animal One minute they’re scuttling like crabs, the next minute they’re crawling like crocodiles, and then they’re head over heels tumbling like a crazy frog!

Fabio, the super-talented professor at Gracie Barra St Peters, is SO good at working with our workshoppers, encouraging those that are ready to tumble down the room, and giving extra guidance and support to those who have never done a forward roll before.

 

Next up, our students team up and work in pairs as they perfect their break falls. Break falls are a special move that teaches us how to fall safely. The workshoppers love this as part of the move involves giving the bright, blue mats a big, loud slap! The big bangs from each break fall echoes through the jiu jitsu school and they get such a rush from it!

Here’s one of our littlest Active Arts workshoppers giving one of the jiu jitsu instructors a run for their money and making them bust out a break fall!

In their pairs they also have a go at different defensive tactics, like blocking and getting out of a hold. Students love taking turns at being the “blocker” and the “blocked”!

The session is always different. Fabio is always coming up with new moves and manoeuvres to teach our workshoppers, and new games to put a fun little twist on self-defence movement principles and training.

 

The circle game is always a hit with our students – they have to put their new jiu jitsu skills to the test to try and get another student out of the circle. We personally love watching our workshoppers smash it out in a wall-handstand competition (what Elena affectionately calls “upsidedown bear!”).

Handstand competitions at Jiu Jitsu!

We just love that our workshoppers get a chance to learn from Fabio. He expertly crafts the history and philosophy of jiu jitsu and gives expert advice on how to confidently deal with issues like bullying. The session does more than build the physical strength as students walk away with increased self-confidence and respect for themselves and others.

We can’t wait to see what’s coming up at our next jiu jitsu session!

Not long to go now till our Winter Active Arts Holiday Workshop. Click here to find out more!

Want to learn more about what Gracie Barra in St Peters have to offer your child (or even you!?). Watch this awesome video that perfectly sums up what Fabio and the crew at GBJJ St Peters are all about!

ACTIVE ARTS: SPOTLIGHT ON… ART!

ACTIVE ARTS: SPOTLIGHT ON…ART!

It wouldn’t be an Active Arts Holiday Workshop if there wasn’t a chance for our kids to leave their mark. We’re all about fostering creativity and self-expression in a positive environment, and this free-form art session with a twist never disappoints!

ACTIVE ARTS FOCUS_FB_ART

 

This graffiti session is just one component of our busy 4-day schedule that includes rock climbing, trapeze, jiujitsu, dance, drama, outdoor sports, games and more! We love this activity because it allows our workshoppers a little bit of down time from all the super energetic activities and a chance to explore their arty side.

Paint palettes are filled with a range of colours that are bright and bold – just like our students! They’re then given free reign to paint what their heart desires – whether it be an intricate portrait, geometric patterns, a nature-inspired picture, or, my personal favourite, this piece of art that shows the support, community and equality of our awesome students.

 

Active Arts Workshop painting_marriage equality

Painting by Ruby O. (Active Arts January 2017 workshop)

 

Our workshop leaders and assistants help out by refreshing water and giving guidance where needed – oh, and cleaning up the occasional paint splosh on the floor 😉 I’m always so impressed by how considerate and collaborative our workshoppers are as they help each other mix the perfect colour, or work together on creating their next masterpiece.

Our art session is a great chance for our busy workshoppers to express themselves, chill out, build friendships, and groove to some music in between!

And best of all, they get a lasting memory of their time at the workshop and this beautiful moment in their life. Our students love looking back on their paintings from a few years back and seeing how far they’ve come, and I love the energy that this communal art work brings to our studio space.

Of course, after a while we run out of space and have to start over. You can read about the first time we had to repaint our wall here.  It was a bittersweet moment – losing all the paintings from our earlier years, but knowing that it was creating space for next generation of expression and creativity.

I can’t wait till our next workshop to see what gets added next. Either way, I know it will be totally unique, and oh-so us!

If you’ve got a budding artist that’s looking to upsize their canvas, you can learn more about our next Active Arts Holiday workshop here!

DD BRAG BOOK #1 – ORLANDO THE BAKING GENIUS

DD BRAG BOOK #1: ORLANDO THE BAKING GENIUS!

Here at DD we know we’ve got some pretty amazing and creative students. So we thought it would be pretty cool to showcase their awesome talents and show how diverse and dedicated a DD kid is. I think you’ll be pretty blown away what these kids can do, and we’re going to start off this series with a bang!

Meet Orlando – 13yrs old and a part of the DD community since day dot.

So let me give you a bit of background on how this post came about. On Thursday afternoon last week, I got a message from Orlando saying he couldn’t come to hip hop on Thursday night because “My brother’s 21st birthday party is on Saturday and I am making a big cake wiht lots of stuff on it so I need to start making it on Thursday”…….. okkkkk…

I always say “Family comes first” so I let our hip hop guru, Sally know, and we both went merrily on about our weeks.

Well… Saturday evening comes around, and I get an update from Orlando…

“I finished the cake!”

Dance Domain_brag book_cake master

 

Oh.. my…

I didn’t have words. How could- But- Oh my…

 

Dance Domain_brag book_cake messages

I’ve seen and tasted some of Orlando’s baking successes before, but this is literally next level. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Masterchef, move over… this is something else!

For those that are playing at home, Orlando is 13…. 13!!!! Last week I literally cooked myself boiled pasta with olive oil and pepper for dinner… and he made this! I couldn’t be more impressed or more proud of his awesome talents so I just had to tell the world about it!

Here’s what DD’s King of Baking had to say..

How long did it take?
Well, I started on Friday afternoon after school and finished it at 5:30 the next day, so around 18 hours.

Dance Domain_brag blog_piping

What was the hardest part?
I found the cake batter and the macarons the hardest part because the cake had to be for 80 people so there was lots of flour and sugar which was heavy💪🏼  and the macarons because I’ve only ever made them once before so it was hard to remember all the little tips and tricks.

Dance Domain_brag book_macarons

 

What is it made of?

The cake is a chocolate mud cake with a cherry filling covered in vanilla buttercream. The drips down the side are chocolate ganache. There is raspberry macarons, mini meringues, shards of chocolate, honeycomb and lots of chopped up chocolate bars.

Dance Domain_brag blog_decorating

How long have you been cooking and creating in the kitchen?

I’m not exactly sure but I’ve always loved helping my parents in the kitchen since I was little. I only started baking bigger and more sophisticated dessert around 5 years ago. But by far this cake is the best one I’ve ever made!

Dance Domain_brag book_ready to party

 

I think I’m not the only one who will be totally blown away by Orlando’s talents. I just had to show Miss Sal just as real validation for his class absence… she was equally gobsmacked. And suggested he should have an instagram account for his baking and start taking orders. Oh, hang on, he’s already got a website!!!

If you’re keen to know more about Orlando’s baking, or maybe even put an order in, you should head over and support this ridiculously talented young entrepreneur in the making.

 

Dance Domain_brag book_ Orlandos Sweets website

Orlando’s Sweets

 

Watch out Zumbo – Orlando is gonna take over the world!

Keep an eye out for the next instalment in our Student Brag Book series!

Want to submit yourself for a Brag Book post? Then get in touch by filling out the form below and tell us what you’re passionate about!

ACTIVE ARTS: SPOTLIGHT ON… ROCKCLIMBING!

Active Arts: Spotlight on… Rockclimbing!

Kids driving you up the walls in the holidays? Leave it to us – we’ll get it out of their systems for you! Find out how in this series that puts the spotlight on our visits to the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym.

ACTIVE ARTS FOCUS_FB_ROCKCLIMBING

Rockclimbing has always been one of our workshop favourites here at Active Arts. Whether your child is a fearless spider-monkey, or afraid of heights, all of our students walk away with a massive sense of accomplishment… and a little exhausted!

Unlike other vacation care programs that place students in large groups of climbers with only one belayer, here at Active Arts we like kids to be moving, not waiting. Our workshoppers form teams of 2-3 students with their very own belayer, and they get to spend their 2-hour session roaming the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym and selecting the next wall to conquer.

Rockclimbing at Active Arts_small groups

The smaller teams give students a chance to climb more, but it also allows us to cater to the individual needs of each student. While one student may feel like dangling 12ft in the air off a stalactite, another may feel like a more gentle climb on the butterfly wall. The small team system means kids can work at their own pace in a supportive environment that promotes encouraging others and teamwork.

Butterfly wall_rockclimbing_Active Arts Workshop

Towards the end of our session, all of our teams meet together in the front room where we take off our harnesses (yay!) and have a chance to wind our bodies down. But now, it wouldn’t be Active Arts if there wasn’t a little twist!

Students are free to break into two groups and either try to balance on the tightwire, or for the more adventurous, go caving in the dark and mysterious cave system built into the climbing gym’s walls!

 

Tightwire teamwork at Active Arts Workshops_rockclimbing.png

Loving the teamwork of these two awesome Active Arts workshoppers!

 

There are three caves to chose from, and students work together to make their way through the tunnels and obstacles and emerge triumphantly. Our fearless students get a chance to build leadership skills as they guide the group towards the end of the cave, and students who may have been nervous to go at it alone get to conquer their fears with the help of a supportive group of peers. And of course, for those who can’t stop flipping and tumbling, there are super soft crash mats to practice walkovers too!

Active Arts Workshop_walkovers

We just love visiting the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym and seeing our workshoppers climb higher than they did last time. And secretly, we love the arm workout that we get while belaying too! 😉

If you have kids that are driving you up the walls in the holidays, this is a sure fire way to get it out of their system! 😉

You can find out more and secure a spot in our next workshop here!

 

 

Pilates Principles for Dance Teaching – Breathing

Pilates Principles for Dance Teaching – Breathing

Tips for enriching your dance classes

Anyone who knows me would know that I’m an absolute Pilates convert. I’m a woman obsessed. And it’s no wonder why. There’s no other system out there quite like it, and its benefits for dancers are off the charts.

I take two Pilates studio sessions a week (I’d do more if I could squeeze them in!) and they are absolutely non-negotiable…I think I’ve missed maybe 5 classes in the space of 3 years! Pilates studio sessions incorporate specialised equipment like the trap table, the barrel, the reformer, and my personal fav and the Wunda chair. It also involves mat-based work, sometimes with smaller equipment like balls, magic circles and Therabands.

I’ve always learned so much about the movement potential of our bodies from my sessions with my instructors, Rachael and Emily. I’m constantly finding new little strengthening and lengthening techniques to adapt and work into my classes. But it isn’t just about the movement potential of pilates. A good pilates instructor is able to cue the correct movement through careful selection of words, imagery and tactile cues (tapping or placing a hand on a certain part of the body to bring awareness to that area).

With this in mind, Dance Domain recently teamed up with the incredible Rachael Sheridan, from Room For Movement in Annandale, for our latest Professional Development session. During this session, the DD teaching team were given a seminar and practical class that introduced us to fundamental principles of pilates.

 

This new blog series outlines some practical ways you can enrich your dance teaching practices by incorporating some techniques from the field of pilates.

Breathing

Step one – breathing. When we’re moving our bodies about in new ways and trying to remember 17 different things at once, often the thing we forget to do is the most basic – breathing!

Who hasn’t finished an exercise at the barre only to take a massive breath and realise, “oh my gosh, I’d held my breath that whole time!?!” We’ve all done it, and we all see it in our students all the time.

During our session, Rachael introduced us to some basic principles of breathing, beginning with different types of breathing. This includes breathing into your tummy, your chest, and sideways into your ribs…even breathing to expand only one side of your ribs!

Best of all were tips on how breathing can affect the quality or execution of movement, like,

  • Breathing in allows the body to find more mobility in extension – think arabesques!
  • Breathing out allows the body to find more mobility in flexion – think contractions!

Conversely, by breathing out during an extension, we’re able to provide the body with more strength and stability. Try it for yourself! Lay on your tummy on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders and press into a back extension. Do it a few times breathing in on the upward phase, then swap over to breathing out on the upward phase. Feel the difference?

We tried different breathing patterns for a whole range of movement – kicks, turns, contractions, roll downs, reaching to the side. We even began to think about how we can apply breathing to help negotiate particular pathologies: if a student has tight hamstrings and they tuck their pelvis under when doing kicks across the floor, ask them to breathe in as they kick the leg up to help lengthen their spine. Genius!

You can also apply breathing techniques to achieve particular movement qualities, such as a movement that is more lengthened and smooth or a move that is sharper. We tried throwing one arm up into the air above our head whilst quickly breathing in (the shoulder lifts as the ribcage expands from the breath in and the movement looks and feels longer) and then again while quickly breathing out (the shoulder stays down as the ribcage contracts and the movement looks and feels stronger and sharper). Such a useful little tool to remember when polishing dances and trying to elicit a similar movement quality from a group of dancers.

As teachers, we all know how important breathing is, but a session like this really brought awareness back to breathing in a whole new way. Being able to cue breath patterns in our students, something that is so accessible to students of all ages, we can work on getting bodies moving to their full potential in the safest way.

So the next time you’re dancing or teaching, or even polishing a dance, think about your breathing and try different patterns.

Pilates for dance teaching_Dance Domain_mat class

 


Stay tuned for the next post in our Pilates Principles for Dance Teaching series!

In the Inner West and looking for a Pilates instructor?

Contact Rachael at Room For Movement in Annandale. She’s an absolute magician!

 

room-for-movement

 

 

Adventures of an Active Arts Kid! – April 2017

Adventures of an Active Arts Kid! – April 2017

It’s been another whirlwind week of creativity and energy at our latest Active Arts Holiday Workshop!

We’ve had the pleasure of playing host to the most imaginative, polite, and caring students for the last 4 days. Read on to find out more about their fun-filled workshop adventures!

Active Arts Workshop Kids always begin the day with a few fun and energetic games to get them going! The classic “River, bank, bridge” and “Not the floor!” are some of our favourites. We love adding our own twist to these games too. They’re a fab way to get students focused and build listening and teamwork skills.

Here’s a little time-lapse video of our fav game “Not the Floor!” – love how our Assistant Leaders get into it and help the younger ones stay off the floor!

After our warm-up games, we get into an uplifting stretch and strength session. I personally love watching our students improve each day, either reaching further to their toes or holding that balance for 5 seconds longer!

After a short little recess break (all that running around, game-playing, and stretching is thirsty work!) our students head to their next activity! From jiujitsu to outdoor sports, painting to drama, we feel that variety makes a workshop SO much cooler!

Active Arts Holiday Workshop_painting

Active Arts Workshop_JiuJitsu

Fabio at Gracie Barra Jiujitsu St Peters is ridiculously awesome at catering lessons to a range of kids. They begin with a few exercises that build listening skills as well as strength! Then, it’s time for my favourite… ANIMAL WALKS! Now this may sound super tame, but let me tell you, it’s totally wild! Students move from one side of the room to the other mimicking different types of animals – from crocodiles to gorillas, and crazy frogs! The kids love it!

After animal walks, Fabio takes them through a series of different tactics of self-defense. These are always supported by wonderful mentoring about self-esteem, confidence and being respectful. Best of all is when they pick our tiniest workshopper to help demonstrate! Nothing like feeling 5 feet taller than you are!

Next up is a lunch break where we rest and refuel, ready for an afternoon filled with awesome!

Depending on the day, our students might be climbing up the walls at the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym, or learning how to fly at the Sydney Trapeze School!

During our climbing sessions, our workshop leaders and assistant leaders flex their arm muscles and belay our awesome workshoppers as they scramble up the walls and reach new heights.

Active Arts Holiday Workshops_mini climb

Students team up with a belayer in small groups of 2 or 3 and are free to climb and explore the walls of the gym as they please. Whether they want to climb the butterfly wall or try to master the super tricky stalactite, we love to see students challenge themselves in their own way.

Active Arts Holiday Wokrshop_climbing kids

When our arms and legs are officially dead, we head over to the caves! For the super adventurous ones, they get to spend some time navigating their way through the pitch black tunnel system built into the walls at the climbing gym! Students head in equipped with a small flashlight and a sense of adventure, and emerge triumphantly! For anyone who thinks the idea of a small, dark space is a nightmare (myself included!) there’s a tightwire for students to walk across… and also some crash mats for flipping and tumbling!… and photos 😉

 

At the Sydney Trapeze School our workshoppers get a 2hr session filled with everything circus! The first half of their session is filled with a variety of circus arts, and something different everytime. This time around, we got the Static Trapeze and the Silks…two of our favourites by far!

Active Arts Workshop_static trapeze

On the static trapeze, workshoppers learn how to flip upside down and hang like a monkey, or stand up and pose like we’re centre stage in the big top! On the silks, students get to practice different climbs, and wrap themselves up in a cocoon of fabric and go for a spin.

Active Arts Workshops_Silks Stag

 

After the silks, students harness up and get ready to fly! They get to practice the hold they’ll be working on that day then take turns climbing up the ladder, inch their toes over the edge to grab hold of the trapeze, and before they know it, they’re flying!

What I love about the Sydney Trapeze School is that there’s always something new to work on. Our regular Active Arts Workshop kids get to try harder and more daring versions. Watching them achieve their newest trapeze hold is the coolest!

Active Arts Holiday Workshop_Flying Trapeze

 

High-flying action isn’t for everyone, and the crew at STS are always so accommodating and encouraging. We love them! Students who nail their first few swings get to try a catch! This is where an instructor swings opposite them and they catch them as the fling themselves off their trapeze!!! SO COOL! This time we had two students make their first ever catches! Woohoo!

At the end of the day, we return to the studio and do a few more games to cool down. A little stretch always helps relax our muscles ready for the next day of Active Arts!

 

Think your kids would LOVE to get in on the action?

Click here to learn more and be the first to find out about our upcoming workshops!

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Got A Pen? Helping kids in need get the start they deserve

As a PhD student that’s been blowing about USyd for over 12 years, it’s no doubt that I love learning. I absolutely loved school as a kid. But for as long as I can remember, nothing got me quite as excited about a new school year like the prospect of stationary shopping… and it still does to this day!

So when I heard about a local Sydney-based charity, ‘Got a Pen?’ that is combatting inequality by providing students in need with the stationary items they need to succeed in school, I was on board in a heartbeat!

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives. But rather than get tangled in a heated discussion of privilege, class, and inequality, I’d simply like to focus on two things that I like to impart to my students:

  1. it is important to acknowledge how lucky we are in our own lives
  2. it is even more important to take action and be the change we wish to see

There are so many charities doing wonderful work for so many important causes, but ‘Got a Pen?’ really struck a chord.

The thought of a child not being able to complete their school work because they don’t have a pen really hit me hard. The thought of a child falling behind in school because they don’t have a calculator to do their math homework began to upset me.

But what really knocked me off my perch was the knowledge that somewhere out there, a child is being labelled as ‘lazy’ for not doing their homework, when really they just didn’t have a pencil. Or that a kid somewhere out there doesn’t want to go to school because they feel different to all the other kids because they don’t have a pencil case.

Earlier this year Dance Domain held a collection drive for ‘Got A Pen?’. With the full support of the DD SRC, we collected pens, pencils, rulers, rubbers, scissors, coloured pencils, textas and pencil cases.

As soon as we posted the notice of the collection drive on our social media pages, we got an instant response from our students who were all-in too! Just 3 hours after posting, we got this photo with the message “What a great idea, I’m in!”:

Dance Domain_Miss S Donates to Got A Pen

“What a great idea – I’m in!” – Our DD Rep, Miss S, shows her community spirit and generosity 

Over the first two weeks of term we collected new stationary items to help ‘Got A Pen?’ meet their pledge of 3000 stationary kits for kids in need. We were so impressed with the thought and generosity of our students as they brought in new stationary items for the drive. Our senior students made their way to the studio on their days off to drop off supplies too!

More than just a collection drive though, I really hoped that it gave our students an insight into the lives of others. I hoped that it educated them that the simple little things we can often take for granted can have a massive impact in the lives of others.

Many students came and talked to me about how they loved getting new stationary and how it motivated them… and how surprised they were that this wasn’t the case for all other children. I heard beautiful stories from parents who told me that their child used their own pocket money to purchase items to donate.

Got A Pen made a pledge earlier this year to make 3000 complete stationary kits to donate across Sydney to kids in need – and they made it! We were so proud to be able to help contribute to this amazing cause.

If you’d like to help out too, you can donate:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Rulers (15cm preferred)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil Cases
  • Sharpeners
  • Highlighters
  • Glue Sticks

All items need to be new and you can find out where to send or drop off your items by contacting the team at Got a Pen on their Facebook page or on their website

 

Teacher Takeover – Sally!

TEACHER TAKEOVER – SALLY!

Welcome to the first of our Teacher Takeover posts in 2017!

This series is all about getting to know what makes our awesome teachers tick! We’re lucky to have such a diverse and talented group of teachers that make up the DD Team, and each of them brings their unique approach to dance to their classes and the studio.

These posts will delve into what inspires and motivates their teaching, what’s been happening in their classes, what courses and programs they’re currently undertaking, or even a little anecdote from their past!

First off the ranks is Sally – our resident Hip Hop master!


 

Sally

What I love about dance is how it creates opportunities for community and communication. Bringing people together, expressing a feeling, sharing an experience.

As well as connecting through music and movement, I love how dancers can connect through time and space. Recently I was at a festival where I got to participate in a bunch of workshops exploring dances from around the world. It’s always fascinating (and so much fun!) to try out dance styles that have been developed by different cultures over years, decades, and even centuries. How amazing to be dancing the same steps as other members of our human family, long ago and far away.

It’s easy to feel disconnected from these histories and cultures in our little Inner West oasis. But as dancers, we’re all part of this ‘living library’ of dance. I like to think we add to it every time we set foot in the studio, or learn a new step from YouTube, or even have a solo dance party in our bedroom. We get to learn from rich dance traditions around the world as well as be part of them.

For example, in our hip hop classes, we’ve been learning some fundamental moves which may look very ‘urban’ now but have their roots in African and Caribbean cultures from long ago. Also, hip hop has traditionally been about self-expression and asserting you or your group’s unique place in society, so as well as learning the basics in class I encourage my students to find their own style which says something about them.

So remember, next time you’re working on that jump, nailing that quick foot work, swinging your body around to the music – as well as rocking out by yourself and for yourself – you’re also part of a wonderfully creative, expressive, and diverse group of storytellers that have been around since time began. You’re a dancer!

Introducing your DD SRC Reps for 2017!

INTRODUCING YOUR DD SRC REPS FOR 2017!

Hi everyone and welcome to our first ever DD SRC blog post!

The DD SRC members will be posting a blog post once a month. In our first meeting that we held in the holidays, we talked about fundraisers and events we are hoping to run this year. We had a big brainstorming session discussing charities we could raise money for, and what kind of activities we could set up to raise that money.

So now let’s meet the team!!

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-5-10-22-pm

The DD SRC busy brainstorming at our very first meeting

Grace

Hi I’m Grace! This year with Dance Domain, I am doing 3 classes. I’m doing the 13-15 year old jazz and lyrical, and DD squad! We held our first DD SRC meeting in the holidays, and we talked about some exciting events coming up. These included talking about some upcoming gatherings, classes, studio ideas, charity organisations, DD unleashed (our talent quest) and possibly some exciting merchandise! This year in Dance Domain I am excited to make new friends in Dance and get to know all the teachers better!

Orlando

Hi I’m Orlando and I’m the blog editor for the DDSRC team. I’m 13 and I’m in year 8. In our first meeting we had a big brainstorming session. We thought about all the events and fundraisers we could have this year. Which I’m super excited about! I’ve been dancing since 2010, now that I look back it seems like it was just yesterday that I started! Ms Elena was my first ever dance teacher and I’ve danced with her since! This year I’m doing hip hop, contemporary and tap. To make Dance Domain even better, this year I’m hoping to help make have lots of fun events and fundraisers possible so everyone can have a heap more fun!!

Ruby O

Hey I’m Ruby, I’m 11 years old and I go to Newtown Public. This year I’m doing two classes. Hip hop class with the amazing teacher Sally and another class with the awesome Miss Lydia for performance group. I can’t wait for the year to really start and I’m so excited to be apart of the DDSRC. I also can’t wait to help raise money for charity and plan lots of fun events for everyone! My personal goals for this year are to be able to do the splits and to be more relaxed, peacefull and flexible.

Bella

Hey, I’m Bella, one of the members of the new DD SRC team. In our first DD SRC meeting we discussed what we could do to make our studio even better than it already is. After 1 hour we already have several exciting fund raisers and events planned for the students of Dance Domain. I can’t wait for an amazing year of new classes, new teachers, new students and thrilling new occasion.

Stella

Hi my name is Stella, and I’m part of the new DD SRC team. I’m 14 (year 9). In the first meeting we talked about different events we could hold this year and what charities we’d like to raise money for. I do jazz, hip hop, performance, dd+ and lyrical. You can find me at the studio every day but Wednesday and Saturday. My favourite style of dance is lyrical but I’m also starting to like hip hop even though I’m not very good at it (yet). I’m very excited this year about some of the events DD SRC have started to organise.

Ruby M

My name is Ruby, I am 11 years old, I go to Newtown public, And my favourite dance style is Jazz. As a part of the new and fabulous DDSRC team of 2017, I want to change Dance Domain for the better and make it even more fun for everyone. I also want to do more fund raising for new equipment but mostly for charity’s and make every single one of the teachers, students, and parents feel welcomed into the Dance Domain family. I’m really excited for a new year of exciting studio events, fund raisers, students, and teachers. I hope everyone will love the changes that we make this year.

Sophia

Hi! My name is Sophia and I am one of your DD SRC leaders for 2017! I am in year 7 and I am 12 years old. I do ballet, performance group and conditioning. I am so happy to be working with the SRC this year! In our first meeting, we discussed fundraisers and events we want to hold this year, and charities we could raise money for. We brainstormed for a while, and had a lot of fun doing it. I cannot wait to start running these events, and seeing what 2017 holds!

 

dd_src_dance-domain

That’s it for this months DDSRC blog post, but thanks for reading and catch you next month!

— DD SRC —

Back to the Barre

BACK TO THE BARRE – Part 1

Sooo…. in all of my free time, I’ve decided it’s time to get back into class for myself. I adore teaching, and nothing makes me happier. But having time to work on my craft as a dancer, to move to music, and to have someone give me insights into what can help me improve is something I’ve missed a lot more than I realised.

With this in mind, I have taken up Advanced Foundation RAD class to work on my technique and artistry. Anyone that knows me will know that ballet and I have had a checkered past. I couldn’t understand its purpose and it was never really explained to me clearly when I was young. I just wanted to dance! Standing around in lines… nope. Not for me.

I picked it up again as a teen, but that was even worse. In an environment that is as cumulatively structured as ballet, late entrance often spells disaster… and I was no exception. I soon lost interest, was disheartened I’d never be able to do it, felt inferior to the other students in the class, and without the support I needed from my teacher I quickly dropped out, opting for other styles instead.

I took up ballet again when I was in my very early 20’s to help me with my Dance Ed course at uni. I took an Intermediate Foundation class with a bunch of 12 year olds… and I loved it! At this later stage in life I could clearly see the benefits. I could also focus and sit still for longer than 12 seconds, so this probably also helped…. Although the photos below from ballet rehearsals at uni a just a few years back tell a different story!

As I write this, I’m reminded of one of my driving goals as a teacher and director – to make dance accessible for everyone. I sometimes see my students getting impatient at the barre or drifting away when they can’t see the purpose of the exercise, and instead feel like they’re just ‘standing around’. While some ballet purists would argue with me to the grave, I believe that ballet doesn’t need to be this way. At Dance Domain, we’re not in the business of training elite dancers, so a lot of the rigidity and tradition can be done away with, and, in its place, we can seek new ways of making things more engaging, more explicit, and more exciting. Why be boring and bland when things can be exciting and an explosion of awesome!? Contrary to what some may think, I firmly believe that you don’t need to sacrifice educational content for spirit and freedom of expression. It’s a matter of give and take.

But, I’ve gotten sidetracked!…. back to my ballet class!

I thought I’d write a little series to keep you all informed about what it is like to be a student again and any neat little tips that spring to mind on this journey. Learning is a lifelong process, and for me this is not only about learning a new ballet grade and polishing my technique, but it’s also about re-learning what it feels like to be a student again

My biggest takeaways from lesson 1?

  1. It’s always scarier than you think! I was actually freaking out the night before. “It’s too advanced”, “I’m too old”, “I won’t be able to pick it up”, “Everyone will know it and I won’t”. It is amazing how after all these years, these thoughts still creep to mind. Did they come to be fulfilled?… Absolutely not! I loved it. The pace of the class was perfect – it was suitably challenging and not totally out of reach. Get in there and give it a go. You’ll never know until you try. And as I tell my students in preparation for performance, a little bit of nerves is a good thing!
  2. If you want to improve, take notes. It was so great to be back into the habit of making notes about exercises to refer to over the week. I loved the personal practice time at home, going over the steps and combinations. Having a little notebook where you jot down notes from your teacher for each exercise is so valuable. It’s kind of like carrying a little paper version of your teacher around with you. And, as you get older, life gets busier. Who can remember everything!? No one. So write it down and review it a few days later. You’ll be surprised how much faster you’ll improve!
  3. Look the part. Braid your hair or put it in a bun, wear something that makes you feel awesome…whatever floats your boat and makes you feel like a dancer. Don’t just reach in an grab any pair of tights (there’s nothing like rocking up to class and putting on your tights only to realise they look like a caterpillar had chewed their way through them! .. Yep, that was me :/ ) Looking presentable makes me feel like I’m ready to perform, and I’ll always dance better on stage than in class, so make every class as close to a performance as possible.

 

I’ll be continuing this little series to keep you all updated on my Back to the Barre journey in 2017. Next up… the perfect pair of ballet flats for my creaky dancer’s feet!

Off to go practice my Battements Fondus exercise now!…

rad-advfound-batt_fondus

I’ve included a little pic of my teacher’s syllabus book. I kept messing up the order of the steps for this one, so took a snapshot of the exercise so I can practice at home and get it right next week!

xx Elena xx