Classes in the Early Childhood Program are grouped into three age-specific levels.
Childhood age three and four are enrolled in Creative Movement classes, while five years olds are placed in Kinder Ballet. Six and seven year olds enter the Elementary Ballet level. These classes meet once a week and last 60 minutes.
Class structure for all three levels is essentially the same, with the content based on appropriate development skills for the specific age. Each class begins with a brief sharing time. Students take turns moving around the room using age-appropriate traveling step. Class continues with a center warm-up that includes all of the major muscle groups and is the basis for the barre work taught in ballet classes at a later date. From this, students learn correct posture and the placement of the body over the legs. (This is very important for both dancers and non-dancers!) The exercises in this sections also teach balance, port de bras (arm movements), and include various types of jumps that are the building blocks for allegro (jumping) steps of classical ballet.
Following the center warm-up comes stretching. These gentle exercises progress is difficulty as students gain flexibility over the years.
The third section of class develops the locomotor skills that form the basis for all ballet steps that travel.
The fourth portion of class is devoted to developing creative expression. Students participate in a variety of free movement exercises that teach listening skills (responding to the tempo and mood of the music), levels (high, medium, low), and directions (forward, backward, sideways). Also included are group skills, which involve learning how to relate to other dancers. Young dancers who are consistently exposed to this type of activity in class are generally more creative in their choreographic efforts in late years and are consistently freer in their movement styles as they develop. Besides, it's just plain FUN!
Finally, the students learns basic tap steps, stressing counting, rhythm, balance and weight changes.