The Discipline of Dance

BY Harper's Bazaar Junior / Oct 23 2015 / 14:11 PM

Aesthetically pleasing points aside, Bazaar discovers the positive impact of regular ballet with a Dubai-based expert

The Discipline of Dance
Ballet Beautiful: Repetto A/W15

As any experienced dancer will tell you – and anyone with an appreciation of the art form can see – there’s a lot more to being a good ballerina than a pretty pink tutu and flexibility. Although nobody is questioning these as major plus points, either.

Another comment often made is the younger one starts the discipline, the better they therefore become. Of course, that’s true of anything; practice makes perfect. But with term one of the new school year well underway in the UAE and classes being offered from the age of just two, we began to wonder what benefit they really have on the child other than providing a structured playtime. We caught up with  James & Alex Dance Studio's co-founder James Castro to find out what he thinks.
“Yes, we do offer classes from age two and upwards. The younger years are more of an introduction to dance, the focus being on playing games, ones that help guide the children into learning the basics. From age four and upwards, it’s easier to get them to do what the instructor requires,” he explains. But is the rigmarole of lessons really necessary? Is it more about the photo opportunity? “Ballet is definitely the best style to learn at any age; it is the basis of all dance forms,” he says. “Some parents don’t want to enroll their children into ballet as they themselves may have had negative experiences during their childhood, or sometimes boys feel that ballet is not suited to them. In these cases, we can offer alternatives such as contemporary dance. Generally, however, age doesn’t come into it.”
When it comes to adults, it's certainly true that those who dance are fitter, stronger people that have better posture (and waistlines) than those who don’t. “Children who start dance young are also are very likely to become more disciplined, focused and balanced individuals – traits that will benefit them in many ways throughout their adult life,” James points out. “Almost all dance styles will result in the same core benefits; it’s complex and requires discipline to get to the highest levels. Nothing good in life is easy!”
With that in mind, what does James think about approaching and encouraging a youngster with their heart set on a life in pointe shoes, but struggling? “I often see parents pushing children into higher levels than they are capable of. In all dance, the basics are the most important, and those quick to tell children that they are too good for the class often leave the child unfocused and wanting to move on, when they haven’t mastered the foundations,” he warns. “Encouragement is vital. It's important to praise them for practicing, which is much more beneficial to them than being stuck in front of a television. I love seeing students walk into the studio with little or no experience and then walking out as dancers.”