Today we’re having a quick chat with the gorgeous Julie Laming AISTD, Principle of Mad4Dance, to hear why she chose to add Groove Child classes to her school’s current timetable and how she has found working with this new and creative junior dance syllabus – the benefits and the challenges!
Hi, Julie! First off, tell us a little bit about your dance school…
Okay! Mad4Dance is based in Christchurch offering professional dance training to children and adults of all ages in Street Dance, Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz and Modern providing performance opportunities for those wishing to develop their ability and technique to a more advanced level. The school currently has 7 teachers, including myself, and around 200 students aged 3 to 18yrs.
You’ve been working with the junior Groove Child syllabus for a full term now, what do you enjoy most about it?
The routines and the music! It’s all very imaginative and stimulating for the children, with some great choreography. The whole concept of the class and its content builds a really good level of class interaction, and I can see it working well already for my technically strong dancers as well as my beginners.
What made you want to include this at your school, and whats the biggest benefit it brings for you in particular?
I love the confidence boosting effect this work has on even the shyest dancer in the room. I also like the focus on emotions and feelings, and that it works at developing the dancer as a whole person from a young age – mentally, emotionally, and artistically, and not just technically. But also for me, as a dance teacher, the biggest value I find is that it’s a brilliant toolkit of creative ideas and exercises that I can use again and again. Not only does it progress the children within the set GC sessions, but many of the exercises are also transferable and I sometimes ‘dip in’ and use one or two of them within my other weekly classes!
How is it different to other set syllabi classes you offer?
It totally works in harmony alongside all the other classes I offer. But it offers a refreshing approach to a syllabus with a good balance of set and free work that keeps the children fully engaged. I’m still getting used to some of the exercises myself, and its challenging me – in a good way – to sometimes allow the children to interpret directions in their own unique way, and not always try to steer it. The more I do this within these Groove Child sessions the more I see the benefit this has to maximise children’s learning experience and it’s teaching them so many artistic lessons. The set and free work is interspersed so that its great to have both in the one session.
What do your students enjoy most about Groove Child sessions?
That it’s so fun! It engages all of them instantly, both the boys and the girls. Particular favourites include: Jungle, Circus and Groove Dice in my youngest Purple badge group, Superheroes and Movement Impro for Yellow badge, Emotional Journey, Secret Agents and Rockstar in Orange badge. I’ve also begun some of the Intermediate level with my 10-12yr olds and I’m really excited to learn more of this later in the year. Loving Kickboxer and the Commercial/chair dance especially. Personal favourites!
What would you say is most challenging about Groove Child?
I’m still getting to grips with my own confidence in delivering some of the free work exercises, as I mentioned. Not because they are difficult but because they challenge my usual teaching style. It’s the moments where you have to trust the children will use their imagination…and they do, thankfully!! I’m excited by the creativity Groove Child brings to the dance space, and I feel its going to inspire choreography and performances further.
How did you feel about the Licensee training course itself?
The training event was great, very thorough, and I personally enjoyed learning about some of research and reasoning behind the exercises. I could see how very well thought out the whole concept is, from the themed exercises and visualisations to the way all the class kit is used. There was a lot to take in but it was great to have two very down-to-earth teachers delivering it. Plus, the back-ups videos afterwards!
What do you hope Groove Child will add to your dance school in the immediate and long term?
More confidence. More creativity and expression in performance. And more enjoyment for the children overall. It’s brilliant how it works for all abilities. It offers a great way in for beginners who might be a little nervous, and I’m planning to deliver taster sessions at local schools in my area next term as part of my recruitment strategy for the dance school. One of my other teachers is also planning to do the course later this year, which will be great for the school as we can run more sessions as the classes grow. Long term, I’m hoping to see a deeper sense of musicality and confidence increasing in my students overall, and I’m looking forward to measuring this through the ‘Performance Assessments’. Love this idea over exams, particularly for my less technically strong dancers who amongst other things will be rewarded for the mindset and effort they put in.
The Groove Child Dance Syllabus and Primary Toolkit offers you an engaging and a refreshing approach to a structured dance class. It’s designed to nurture children’s positive sense of self, confidence, and self exfpression in a way that celebrates their individuality through dance. Dance School Owners and Primary Head Teachers – we’d love to meet you and introduce you further to the holistic benefits Groove Child could bring to your students (and teachers!) register your interest TODAY at our website to receive more details and dates of our training courses: www.groovechilddance.com