our dance program

A unique approach to dance

Kids 'N Dance 'N Theater Arts launched in Lafayette in 1996 as a Dance Center and quickly rose to become a favorite of Contra Costa families. The enthusiasm expanded when our large Oakland facility opened. What was and still remainAriels Musical Ballet Mar 2014-1585s the attraction of our dance program after over 15 years? Our program is designed to enhance children’s trust in their own creative expression while gently introducing skills. It stands alone as a unified program with a full curriculum that grows with the developmental needs of children.

So many children have a romantic impression of dance - they want to be a ballerina - but this impression along with their enthusiasm for dance frequently gets lost after a single ‘traditional’ ballet class. They are confronted with a rigid class structure, demanding strain on their bodies, and a strict belief in uniformity and exactness. Although many schools offer creative movement to remedy the need for instruction for younger dancers, few manage to do this with productive results.

Our youngest creativAriels Tap and Ballet Performance Mar 2014-1098e movement dancers wait all week for their Kids N Dance class because it is not just a class, it is an experience. They are transported into magical worlds through weekly stories with accompanying music, costumes and props to encourage imaginative participation. Little do they know that age appropriate dance skills are integrated everyday readying them for more formal instruction.

Formal dance instruction usually begins around age 6.  Our definition of formal is participating in a class that is less based on imagery. Gradually dance terms are used, steps are broken down and analyzed, and technique and form is refined in warm ups, across the floor routines, and choreography. Whether learning ballet, tap, hip-hop or contemporary dance, though, the ultimate goal is to have fun while challenging ourselves to improve. Competitiveness naturally falls by the wayside and dancers thrive. They move comfortably in their own bodies, risk exploring new movements and ultimately master new skills with pride.

our early childhood dance philosophy

It is more than just fun

IMG_0111_2Many families who find their way our Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet Classes have actively sought out an alternative to rigid classes that demand exactness of form and position. What three year old wants to stand at a bar, suck in their tummy, hold their arms “just so” and point their toe for the perfect tandu repeatedly? Very, very few. Right? On the other hand, when you pay for a class the expectation is that your child will learn and progress in a skill – after all, your kid can dance in the living room with scarves.

Our creative movement curriculum is designed to guide the growth of each child, to go beyond the living room dance experience, however we are very careful about how much individual critiquing and we provide and how much rote repetition is used to master a skill. This is not because we are inattentive to the “mistakes” children make while dancing, but because we have found that excessive feedback and drilling doesn’t support the growth of a skill and often backfires.

If a child is asked to leap from two feet to one foot and they end up simply hopping, we will tell them once to try it the other way, but if they can’t change it, they usually are just not yet able to accomplish it. Often it is a developmental issue and growth will come in time and practice, but not repeated practice in that one moment. Imagine the frustration of being asked to master something that is impossible to achieve. It is damaging to self-esteem and hinders the willingness to Lizs Ballet and Musical Theatre Mar 2014-1251experiment to help build the gross motor skill that will allow for landing on one foot. If however, your child is just on the cusp of being able to land on one foot, and repetition would help, they get the opportunity to practice that skill throughout the class – starting with leaping over the animals, progressing into a warm up, and then somewhere in the dance story adventure. The opportunities are presented, hints are provided, and the skill is demonstrated by peers and the teacher. Then, all of a sudden while leaping from an imaginary log over a stream while being chased by a dragon, you see your child jump from two feet to one! The mastery happens!

The untrained eye might just focus on what is not being taught while leaping over animals, but miss what is happening throughout the rest of the class and over time. We ask that you take your own leap of faith and trust that learning is happening in the midst of the fun of our classes.

Our mission also includes the belief that children should be encouraged to dance, but never forced. If they are embarrassed or uncomfortable in any way they are permitted to sit out until they feel comfortable. This allows children to experience the joy movement instead of being uncomfortable with thier experience. This, however, does not mean Kids 'N Dance has overly permissive classes - children are expected to be functioning members of a group. If it becomes clear that a child is not able to engage on a regular basis, instructors and parents strategize together to encourage participation.  Kids 'N Dance instructors make conscious efforts to blend gentleness with appropriate expectations.


Chelseas Mommy and Me Class Mar 2014-1085 Parent & Me
ages 18 months- 3 yrs.This is a wonderful introduction to dance and group instruction for boys and girls. Parents and their children build keepsake memories . Children start with 15 minutes of free play on gymnastic equipment followed by 30 minutes full of music, rhymes, creative movement, and imagery dances. Dance with your child while she/he dresses up and pretends to be a dog, doll, or dragon and any other character our teacher’s bring to life. Costumes, props, and a wide variety of music all add to the fun.   Dancer coloring pages and a hand stamp are given out to remember the theme of the day. This is often a highlight of the week for families and their children.
Creative Movement/Gym
ages 27 months- 3.5 yrs    
The content of this class is very similar to pre-ballet, though guided to the needs of younger children. This is an especially good option for the tentative child or one that has little group instruction experience that may need parents in the room or those transitioning from needing parent support. Parents don’t actively participate, but are present for support.from Mills College in Philosophy and a teaching credential specializing in Early Childhood Education from Mills College as well.
Chelseas Mommy and Me Class Mar 2014-1097 Preballet
ages 3 – 5 Our philosophy of early childhood instruction was developed with this age group in mind (see Our Early Childhood Dance Philosophy). Our pre-ballet dancers wait all week for their Kids N Dance class because it is not just a class, it is an experience. They are transported into magical worlds through weekly stories with accompanying music, costumes and props to encourage imaginative participation. Little do they know that age appropriate dance skills are integrated everyday readying them for more formal instruction.  This class develops creativity, coordination, and self-esteem through playful warm ups, dance activities, improvisation, and directed story dances. Costumes, props, and a wide variety of music all add to the fun. Parents wait in the lobby and enjoy watching heir child on a flat screen TV and on presentation day.
Ariels Musical Ballet Mar 2014-1651  

 / Musicals                               ages 3 – 5
Sometimes dancing is just not enough! This class is an abbreviated version of our pre-ballet classes so that girls and boys that are itching to sing and act can go for it. Scenes and songs from familiar shows like Annie, Mary Poppins and Lion King are featured among others.   Parents wait in the lobby and enjoy watching on a flat screen TV and on presentation day.

 Lizs Ballet and Musical Theatre Mar 2014-1251Chelseas Musical Ballet Gym Mar 2014 -1097  


ages 3 – 5

For active kiddos that enjoy our pre-ballet curriculum but crave even more movement and physical challenges. In addition to an abbreviated version of our pre-ballet class, children have an opportunity to learn gymnastic skills. Each week a new skill is introduced and practiced and there are stations to work on previous skills learned. Gymnastic instruction includes tumbling, balance beam, mini- trampoline and even time on basic coordination on our aerial silks. Parents wait in the lobby and watch their child on a flat screen TV and on presentation day.


Ariels Tap and Ballet Performance Mar 2014-1098 Tap/Preballet  
ages 3-5Everyone loves making noise with their shiny tap shoes, but it is quite a commitment to concentrate on learning specific steps for basic rhythms and heel and toe tapping. This split class provides a great balance – playful but concentrated tap practice and then more freedom is found with preballet story dances. As always, costumes and props are brought to every class. Tap shoes required.
KND 1 Beginning Ballet
ages 4 -6 (4 yr. Preballet prerequisite)Each weekly class introduces ballet steps and techniques while using imagery and creative movement. Dancers will learn the basic positions and jumps. Each class consists of ballet warm-ups, locomotor movement, and theme dances. Every class combines ballet steps, modern dance, and creative improvisation to form complete dances. Costumes and props are still included in every class.
Ariels Tap and Ballet Performance Mar 2014-1117 Tap/Ballet
ages 4 1/2 – 6A great choice for young dancers that enjoy variety. Half of class time is spent working on basic shuffle, flap, and other tap steps. The balance of the class is devoted to ballet instruction with imagery and creative movement incorporated in to story dances. Costumes and props add to the fun. Tap shoes required.
Smooth Criminal Hip Hop Boppers
ages 4-6Each weekly class is full of energetic rhythm and dances.   Kids move to the fun beat of pop and hip hop music.   Dancers will also work on cartwheels, splits, and other gymnastic tricks to enhance their dancing.   They will learn simple street moves, jumps, and turns. Costumes and props all add to the fun. No need to worry about lyrics.  This class uses traditional clean hip hop music.
procserv1-300x266 Level 2 Ballet/Modern  
ages 6 1/2 – 8Each weekly class consists of ballet and modern warm-ups, modern dance body isolations, locomotor movement, and center work. This class is for children who are ready to focus on refining skills and memorizing dances. Dancers will learn dance combinations and dance vocabulary.
dancer Level 3 Ballet/Modern  
ages 8-9A progression from Level 2 for those ready to focus on more difficult steps and dances. Dancers continue to learn dance combinations, dance vocabulary, and are introduced to improvising their own dances.Level 4 Ballet/Modern
ages 9-11A progression from Level 3. Continued and more intensive skill development with hire expectations for refinement.
Frame of dance video 30 Hip-hop  
ages 6-8, 8-12, and teensLearn the basic street moves with this fun and energetic type of dance. Each week kids will also work on cartwheels, splits, and round offs with use of mats. Dancers will get a workout while learning how to create their own dances.   Dancers learn body isolations, alignment, and fast foot work. This class uses traditional clean Hip Hop music.
Frame of dance video 03Frame of dance video 26_2 Children’s Dance Company              ages 6-8, 8-12, and teens

(Audition or invitation only)
This class is for children who are serious about dancing and performing. Dancers will learn choreographed pieces using Modern, Jazz, Tap, Hip-Hop, and Ballet and will perform regularly during the year.

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