Graceful poise and movement and a healthy, athletic lifestyle are something most moms want for their little girls. Ballet has long had a bad rap for teaching girls unhealthy ideas of beauty and thinness but the reality is that with the right teacher and a balanced approach, ballet can be a great way to teach girls self confidence, flexibility, strength, coordination, focus, discipline and team work.
To learn more about the dance, Kuwait Moms Guide spoke with Yulia Svechnikova, a well known Russian ballet instructor living in Kuwait who has 12 years of experience teaching ballet to children. Also be sure to check out KMG's full list of ballet studios, resources and classes in Kuwait.
KMG: What are the benefits of ballet for girls?
Yulia: The first thing is posture. It’s important not only for looking graceful, to see your daughter sitting and walking with her back straight, a long neck line and chin up, but also very important to have the right posture for a child’s healthy growth. Ballet also helps girls keep their weight within normal limits.
KMG: Is it very difficult for children to learn at first? What if my child has a limited attention span? What are the challenges?
Yulia: It all depends on the ability of the child to react to what the teacher says. Girls who already have experience at day care or school will be able to follow instructions and won’t find it difficult. If the child has a limited attention span, it is highly recommended to enroll them in an activity such as dance. These lessons can help children to develop concentration skills. A good teacher will also use special methods to help children get used to the structure of class such as with teaching repetitions of basics steps in different variations. This helps develop “body memory” as well. Ballet classes on a regular basis prepare the child to concentrate his attention on movements and music which helps to prolong the ability to listen at school and other activities. Movement also helps improve a child’s mood.
KMG: How long does it take and what is the process a child will go through?
Yulia: In my classes, the youngest group by the end of a 35-week course is able to dance together ‘en ensemble’. They can feel the rhythm of the music and move accordingly. Classes are once a week, but even at that pace children learn all the basics of dance. Later on, they will develop more professional skills which will allow the child to choose what direction she prefers such as jazz, modern or classical ballet.
KMG: Should girls be interested in dance or performance in order to take ballet?
KMG: At what age should my child start ballet lessons?
Yulia: Three years old is a good age to start. In my experience, however, if the child wants to learn and has passion, regardless of the starting age they will grow into a dance star.
KMG: What should parents consider when choosing a ballet course / instructor for their daughters?
Yulia: Any choice is hard to make. As a mother of two children myself, I will always look at the facilities first and then I would advise to go and see the recital of the dance group or an open class. Do get advice from friends or family members whose kids are already attending ballet classes. It is important to ask what kind of experience the teacher has not only in her dance background, but also working with young kids. I also think it is nice if the proper uniform is required to attend a class.
KMG: What other advice would you suggest?
Yulia: Find out the class size (about 12 to 15 students is best), consider how affordable the studio is (Do they charge extra for costumes, tickets to shows?), Consider your own time. Are you able to dedicate hours to bring your child for rehearsal, extra practices and dance events? Go to the studio and watch the little girls - do they like being there? This is a good indicator of how happy any age dancer will be there. I would like to thank Kuwait Moms Guide for all the questions and hope that learning ballet and dance will bring happiness to all mothers and daughters in Kuwait who try it.
Biography of Yulia Svechnikova
A choreographer and ballet mistress, Yulia studied at The Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow and has been dancing most of her life. From the moment her mother put her in her first tutu at three years old, creativity and movement have been center stage.
Yulia has been teaching ballet for over 12 years at various schools and youth centers in Moscow (Russia), UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Her genuine love for dance and the desire to create something for all levels led to the creation of her popular My First Ballet Steps program, mainly inspired by Russian classic ballet technique. Adding to her credits, she also choreographed with the Ahmadi Music Group in Kuwait for operas Semele (2012) and Dido&Aeneas (2013).
Originally published in the Kuwait Moms Guide Newsletter Issue #3 - January 7, 2014