utus, delicate pumps and adorable leotards – there isn’t much about ballet for little girls not to like. But whilst parents may encourage their little ones to pick up this elegant dance, few are aware of the fantastic social and educational benefits it can offer. We talk to Cheryl Dodd – co-founder of Starz Academy UK – and talk plies, points and gallops
What inspired you to create Starz Academy UK?
Whilst looking for dance classes following the birth of both our daughters, we found a gap in the market for such a class. We couldn’t find anything like it to join with our children - particularly something we could take our two year old boys to at the same time. We decided to join forces, utilising Lianne’s dance teaching qualifications and performance experience with my corporate business experience to create Starz Academy UK.
What can Starz Academy UK offer to parents and little ones?
We provide a fun, structured introduction to the world of ballet and dance. Small children have far more physical ability than they are given credit for from a very young age - children as young as one will learn to confidently copy their teacher after a only few weeks of attending classes. In addition to learning ballet and discovering how they can control their young bodies in motion, our sessions also promote good manners, social interaction, turn- taking, counting in eights, following directions and many more important life skills for the pre-school age group. For parents it is very much a social occasion - particularly for first time mums who are finding their feet with a whole new set of ‘mummy’ friends! The sessions are a lovely way to spend an hour of quality time with your child without the interruptions of everyday life.
What is a typical Starz Academy UK ‘Ballet Babes’ session like?
We believe we are the only dance school to offer both a dance class and social time combined. We run a fun 30 minute class that follows our ‘Ballet Babes’ syllabus. The children will learn ballet basics such as plies, points and gallops in a way that is fun. Parents are very much an active part of the class, joining in and encouraging the movements where necessary. we combine our classes with 30 minutes of social time, where the children can play with toys whilst parents are invited to help themselves to hot and cold refreshments. When the children reach an age that they are ready to be independent from mum - generally around three years old - we run a 45 minute class where they progress to more dance steps and structure without their mum or dad in the room.
What are the social benefits of ballet for children?
A Starz Academy Ballet Babes class can help young children to develop their social skills, teamwork, communication, trust and cooperation - as well as body and spatial awareness. Ballet can also help children to forge new friendships, overcome shyness or awkwardness in social situations, and help to create a confidence in front of an audience that will help them for many years to come. Q What experience do Starz Academy teachers have? AWe are very lucky to have an amazing team of friendly teachers at Starz Academy UK. They are all trained with our original Starz Ballet Babes Syllabus, and nearly all of them also hold formal dance teaching qualifications. We have teachers who have had successful careers as professional dancers and have hung up their pointe shoes to become mummies themselves - as well as teachers who are highly trained to work with children in addition to their dance training. We value each and every one of them, and together we create a brilliant team.
What plans do you have for the future?
When we launched Starz Academy UK, we named it such for a reason. We launched Ballet Babes first, but that is just the beginning for us! We planned to launch one brand at a time so we could get it right and focus our attention on it. Our ambition is endless, and we are currently working on a new brand called ‘Boogie Beatz’ which will be launched later this year.
For more information visit www.starzacademyuk.com