Growing up in San Diego, one of my interests as a youngster was dance classes. Tap, jazz, ballet, hula, clogging. You name it, I’ve tried it. Better yet, I performed it, in public. At the Del Mar Fair, in shopping malls, at Moose Lodges, at private events, local and state competitions, and community theatre.
I worked my way up from the tiny tots to the elite performing group at the local dance studio. Looking back on my experience from age five to 16, I wore out a lot of dance shoes and flesh colored tights. But I also gained so many life lessons to build my character and who I am today. I learned that through consistent practice you can build skills and develop your talent. I learned about how to work as a team as well as how to shine as an individual. I learned you can’t always win, but if you do your best you are a winner. I also learned that it doesn’t matter how tired you are, you perform your “A” game no matter what. I strongly believe that through dance I gained self-confidence and a sense of well-being. Not only is dance an art, but it is a form of physical fitness.
So when my daughters turned two, I began to look for dance classes for them to participate in. I wanted to provide them with an opportunity to socialize and see if they would consider dance as an interest. I bought them the shoes and leotard tights required by the dance studio we enrolled in. The girls seemed to like it, but after awhile, one didn’t and the other kind of did. It was then that I was smacked in the face with a reminder — your girls were born at the same time, but they will have different interests. My girls are natural performers, but what was the issue? We finished the set of lessons I purchased and then took a break from dance class. Believe me, I don’t want to become a “dance mom” nor do I want to enter the world of performing with sequins and tights and lipstick right now. But I do want the girls to learn and appreciate dance as art and of course, FUN!
Last fall, we learned about the annual Free Day of Dance at Dance Place San Diego. It’s held the day after Christmas, and it’s where the dance studios and organizations in the building open their doors and conduct free classes for San Diegans of all ages and abilities. I loaded the girls up and took them down to see what they’d offer at Malashock Dance.
If you know about Malashock, you probably only have heard about John Malashock and his amazing modern dance company. They’ve performed throughout the world and he’s a top notch modern dance choreographer. But not many realize that a few years ago the company opened a dance school for the rest of us. For people who want to learn the fundamentals of modern/creative dance as well as those who want an amazing, unique workout.
After participating in the Free Day of Dance, my girls started going to the Creative Dance 1 class on Saturday mornings. They absolutely love Ms. Diana, who teaches the class and also love to see Ms. Molly, the director of education at Malashock Dance, too!
Here’s what we love about the Creative Dance classes for pre-schoolers at Malashock Dance:
1. The class is designed to meet the kid’s expectations and allow them to live in the space where they enjoy and are at.
2. The class is usually the first independent social activity for many pre-schoolers. They learn social skills, like taking turns, listening, and focusing on one activity at a time. The students also learn “Dancer Manners” such as using quiet voices and saying “Please” and “Thank You.”
3. Students develop and foster locomotor skills, based on age appropriate physical development milestones. They develop strength and flexibility and experience a range of movement, such as skipping, jumping, walking versus hopping. At this age, it’s not so much about repetitive movement to nail a routine, but leveraging the natural abilities and movement pre-schoolers have. The teachers in the Creative Dance program at Malashock structure the class in short, quick activities to lead the children through the lesson. Students are not standing still for very long or are required to memorize poses or positions (like in a typical ballet class).
4. As a student of modern and creative dance, you get to wear what you want to wear. No shoes, tights, or uniforms required. And the class is open to girls and boys! (This is great, especially if you are trying to potty-train a pre-schooler. And my girls feet grow so fast, it’s hard to keep up with buying appropriately sized shoes for them.)
My experience as a parent has been very positive and I encourage you to think about dance in a different way for your kids. You’re probably wondering if my kids like it, and the answer is YES. They love their teacher and look forward to participating each week. The kids have a bond with the other students (and the parents do too!)
Consider giving the Creative Dance 1 & 2 classes at Malashock Dance a try. Here’s the basic info:
Malashock Dance and the Malashock Dance School
2650 Truxtun Road, Suite 202
Dance Place San Diego, Liberty Station
San Diego, CA 92106
Creative Dance 1
Saturdays at 9 a.m.
Creative Dance 2
Saturdays at 10 a.m.
For more information or to register, please visit their website.
We have attended these classes at no cost and did not receive monetary compensation to write about our experience. I want to share our experiences that we find useful and informative. All opinions are my own.