How many of you have children that love to dance? As a dancer, I light up whenever my friends tell me their children are taking dance class and my mind races to what flowers should I bring for the little dancer at their recital! At the same time, it is important to understand what are the benefits of children being engaged in this art form, what it entails to teach and share this passion with them, and how help them find their own inner voices of creativity.
This summer I had the opportunity to speak with my instructors, Denys Drozdyuk and Antonina Skobina, about this subject. Denys and Antonina, also known as DNA, are Ballroom Dance Champions and the “first and only Ballroom Dance Duet that performs in the dance concert world”. I have been an admirer of theirs for quite some time from their competition videos of Blackpool (the largest and most prestigious competitions in the world) to their NBC World of Dance appearances. Not only do they dance beautifully sharing countless captivating performances with the world but they are also amazing coaches/ instructors. With a high attention to detail and a wealth of knowledge they provide classes that are clear and concise while also evoking the imagination from within each participant. In our conversation they opened my eyes to several benefits as well as elements in how to engage children in this world of dance and I am so grateful to share them with you now!
Movement is beneficial to our psychological health. We opened our conversation with a discussion on how movement had been proven to effect people of all ages psychologically. Through the freedom of movements, we are able to express feelings we may not normally feel and gain greater senses of audaciousness and confidence. One of my favorite notes from a group class is when Denys told us to smile. It is a subtle movement but what a difference it can make!
Expressing the imagination while exploring movement. Denys and Antonina shared with me that improvisation games are a tool to develop a child’s creativity and imagination. At the same time, it also provokes a sense of spontaneity through clear directions and slight adjustments that are given as the game progresses. One of the games they shared with me is elevator where the children are told they are getting off in a specific world and need to walk in that space whether it be the clouds or the ocean floor!
Creating a sense of community and learning to respect others. In our conversation Denys and Antonina told me that in group classes they allow the children to work on dances at home and then share their work with the class. Clear guidelines are given in advance and reinforced to the group that this is a safe zone and constructive criticism is encouraged. Through setting these boundaries a foundation of discipline is laid and from that the group is taught both focus and respect while also sharing a sense of gratitude to their fellow dancers.
Learning a sense of goal setting and discipline. As with any art/ sport to reach a higher level, hard work and discipline are required and dance is no exception. Denys and Antonina explained to me that through honest communication and setting boundaries according to the child’s needs a student grows in so many ways. Acknowledging the truth, the child is often motivated to work harder and with improvement they are even more driven. Joy comes from the work and an important lesson is learned that going through the hard times is part of the process.
Building a sense of self confidence and purpose. Both Denys and Antonina shared with me many examples of how they have witnessed the confidence in both their male and female students grow through both improvement and a sense of belonging within the group. I was particularly touched by one example Antonina gave when she spoke of how she keeps her female students engaged when they are without a dance partner. She tells her ladies that they are mediators and demonstrating positivity to the world. Through this positive mindset they are learning that there is a purpose bigger than themselves. This is a wonderful lesson to learn and understand!
I am so grateful to share this knowledge with you and hope it proves helpful. I want to extend a big thank you to Denys and Antonina for their generosity with both their knowledge and time! They have been a huge inspiration for me and at the end of this post I have included their website and social media handles. I want to end with a quote from Antonina- “We want our classes to be informative, inspirational, and practical.” I may be slightly bias as a current student but every class from this couple is that and so much more!
Kristina Lucia xoxo