Thursday, September 29, 2011

Less aching feet!

The new dance floor has arrived! This year, with the added classes, and the oldest taking twice/week, I decided to invest in a roll-out dance floor. The floor of the fellowship hall where I teach is concrete, which isn't a good surface for dance.

The roll-out floor is reinforced with a foam backing, so while it is still firm, it absorbs the shock for jumps. Plus, I've found my feet ache a whole lot less - after 4 hours of teaching, they use to hurt SO much, but now, while still tired, they don't ache as much.

The girls and I are enjoying a better surface for dance. Thanks to all who donated towards the floor - it is a big investment, but one that I think will be worthwhile.

Wee Ballet 1

Little girls just starting dance are so precious. :) They come in knowing how to dance, and the joy they bring is a lot of fun. Of course, it can be a little harder for them to focus, and our goal is to teach them to dance together, instead of everyone doing their own thing. But, it's always a lot of fun to work with the tiny ballerinas.

This year I have a total of 23 students in "Wee Ballet", resulting in 3 class sections.

Wee Ballet 1, with Miss Miriam

The older girls helping with Wee Ballet 1 & 2 have been invaluable, since they have 8 and 10 students, respectively. With that much enthusiasm and energy, it's a blessing to have an assistant to help keep things organized!

Butterfly Ballerinas

I enjoy finding fun props and things for the younger girls to enjoy at the end of some classes. This week, we had fun dressing up in butterfly wings I found at the dollar tree.

This class will be angels in "The Coming King" so they got to experience how wings feel, although, of course, they won't be colored when they're angels! ;)

I'd begin by telling the girls to curl up in a "cocoon" and then when the music started, they would "sprout" their wings and start to fly as they danced across the floor. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

First week of ballet

The King's Praise Ballet started its 5th year of classes this week. I have a few girls that have been with me all 4 previous years (and are still taking!) as well as about 30 girls that are taking from me for the very first time!

The total student count rose to 82 girls, divided into 10 classes. There was an influx of 4 & 5 year-olds, which makes things fun, with 3 "Wee Ballet" class sections. It's always hard to learn the names of all the students, but it's a joy to see so many girls wanting to dance for the Lord.

Ballet IV (my highest level) is taking 2 classes/week this year, and I'm excited to see them continuing to progress. There are 10 in that class, and it's fun to challenge them with new things, always striving for new excellence in technique, for the glory of God.

Due to the number of students, I also asked 5 girls in Ballet IV to be "assistants" in 5 of the younger classes. Even with just the first classes, I'm seeing the benefit of having someone to demonstrate and help organize the girls and keep them focused. It gives me the opportunity to help each individual student better. Before, if I stopped to correct something, many of the girls would stop dancing, as when they're younger, they learn a lot by imitation. I'm very thankful for my assistants this year! It also gives them experience, should they ever decide to teach on their own one day...

Each year when I get new students, I'm reminded how much a student does learn in just a year. Going over the basics of posture, positions, straight knees and turnout, it's always a reminder that ballet is not "natural" - ballet poise has to be taught! It's fun to get beginning students, but it's also gratifying to continue to teach the girls that have taken before, and see that they have learned and applied things, and that they are continuing to learn.

The first week of classes was busy, making sure everyone had what they needed, going over the student handbook at the beginning of each class, and ordering dancewear for those that needed it. After not dancing much this summer, teaching 12 hours of classes (divided over 3 days) left this teacher quite sore! But, it's good to be dancing and stretching again.

There were some challenges to the week. One almost-4-year old didn't want to leave mommy to come and dance... hopefully next week she will. :) I've lengthened the time of my Ballet I classes, but had a brain lapse the first class and let Ballet I/B out 15 minutes early by accident - oops! We also had a sad end to the first class day, when one student was told half-way through her class that her Grandpa had died unexpectedly. It was good to be there to hug and pray with her, and see her friends support her, but it was also a sad time. Her Grandpa was a big supporter and encourager of The King's Courts, coming to every dance and drama presentation we did - coming all 3 nights to the summer plays, and even going to see his granddaughters dance when we shared at a nursing home, and sometimes even to dress rehearsals, just to see to have more opportunities to watch them. He will be missed. But, we know he is rejoicing in heaven right now.

I'm looking forward to the year ahead, thankful for the opportunity to invest in the lives of these girls, ages 4 to 16. Though there are challenging, tiring, and busy times, overall it is a definite blessing and joy.