July 2014 update: There are some changes to the Elmwood Community Center’s dance program for Fall 2014. The previous program (including the Dance Dance class) will be relocated to a new dance studio in West Hartford, Imagine Studios, and the Hartt School Community Division will begin offering a new dance program at the ECC. We are so lucky to have so many dance options in the West Hartford area!
Some of my fondest childhood memories are hanging out at the dance studio.
From the age of three until I was in high school, I took all sorts of dance classes. I had my hair in a little bun, wore tutus and dance skirts, and probably drove my mother crazy practicing pirouettes around the house. I wasn’t the best dancer, but I absolutely loved it.
Fast forward many, many years. Now I have a two-year old daughter who loves to wear tutus and dance around the house herself. I knew one day I would let her try out a dance class and see if she liked it. In reality, though, I couldn’t wait to sign her up.
I assumed she wouldn’t be able to start taking dance until the age of three. It seemed everywhere I had looked, that was the starting age. Fortunately, though, I was happy to find out that there was another option.
The Elmwood Community Center (ECC) in West Hartford, Connecticut offers a class called Dance, Dance that is an independent class for kids ages 2-4. The class is held on Tuesdays and Fridays on the first floor of the ECC and lasts for 30 minutes.
I was excited for my daughter to try the class and now I’m excited to tell you all about it!
In my previous post on the Gym Kids program at the ECC, I provided lots of details about the building, parking, etc., so I won’t go into that again.
Let me give you a quick tour of the dance area . . .
The classroom is located on the first floor. To get there, either take a few steps from the lobby or catch a ride in the elevator. After reaching the first floor, hang a right and head down the hall to the dance area.
The first room on the right is actually the family area. Here you can hang out with other parents and kids while your little one is in class. Perfect if you have siblings in tow!
The veteran moms told me this is a new area and they love it. I guess the siblings used to just play in the hallway which would sometimes be distracting for the little one’s in class. Now the kids have their own place to play and eat snacks and the parents have a place to hang out while they wait for class to finish.
There is also a waiting area in the hallway.
We usually get there a little early for class and Sparkles has a snack in the family area.
Sparkles’ Aunt and Uncle were visiting, so we had a whole entourage in tow.
Here are some pictures of the classroom. Sparkles is enjoying hanging out with some other twin friends before class starts . . .
One question I had before Sparkles took her first class, was what they were supposed to wear.
Do I get her all decked out in full dance attire or do we take a more laid back approach?
For the first few classes she wore a regular top, comfy pants, a skirt and her sneakers. This was perfectly acceptable.
She did recently find a pair of fun shoes at the Disney store, so now she wears those. It is really anything goes for this class. Some girls wear ballet shoes, some don’t. Some wear leotards and tights, some don’t. Some wear skirts, some don’t. The key is that all of the girls are wearing comfortable clothes that gives them freedom to move.
Here is Sparkle’s outfit.
And here is what the other girls wore.
Cute, aren’t they?
Sparkle’s was the youngest one in the class (she had just turned 2 on the first day) and I naively thought she would do great in an independent class.
On the first day, we got there early, had snack and I ushered her into the classroom. She met her teacher, Ms. Amanda, the other girls and then took her seat on the little purple circle.
I turned around, headed out of the room, only to hear the yelling of “Mama, Mama” coming from behind me. Crying started and she wasn’t interested in staying. I brought her back in, calmed her down and tried to leave again. No luck.
Ms. Amanda suggested I stay in the classroom this first time, so I did.
It took Sparkles about two classes with me in the classroom, before she felt comfortable. I was happy to see that for the third class she was excited to go in by herself, but as I peeked in the window, I noticed she was mainly watching and not participating. By classes 4 and 5 she was starting to participate a lot more.
So what can your little one expect at the Dance, Dance class?
There is lots of singing, dancing, and movement. They also practice rythms and balance.
They usually start out with singing and doing the movements for a few songs. A little head, shoulders, knees and toes anyone? I also saw them following along to a song where they practice balancing a little bean bag animal on different parts of their body.
They practice using rhythm sticks.
And do other fun things like walking on a balance beam, crawling through a tunnel, and some of Sparkle’s favorites like dancing with the ribbon sticks and practicing her animal moves to the song, Animal Action (this song is a hit with Bruiser too!).
Once the class is over, the girls get a stamp or sticker and are on their way.
I feel so lucky that there is a class in our area where even the littlest dancers can participate. The girls have so much fun and you can just watch their faces light up as they take it all in. What a great experience for these little ones!
Sound fun? Signup for the Spring session is in just a few weeks. Check out the details below.
Dance, Dance Class
Address: 1106 New Britain Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06110
(Please note: Even though the address for the building is New Britain Avenue, entrance to the building is not off this street. You can get there by going down South Quaker Lane and then turning on Burgoyne. See details from the beginning of the Gym Kids post or check out their website’s directions here.)
Phone Number: 860-561-8160
Get directions here (Directions are to entrance on Burgoyne Street):
Students will learn basic dance skills and vocabulary while exploring qualities of movement through creativity. They will develop motor skills like hopping, galloping, and leaping through the use of music and rhythms. Ribbons, bean bags, scarves and hoops will be incorporated to enhance the class. This is an independent class. Comfortable clothes required.
Spring 2013 Schedule and Fees:
- Tuesdays 10:00 am and 10:30 am; 4/23 – 5/21
- Fridays 10:00 am; 4/26 – 5/24
- $50 residents of West Hartford/$55 Non-Residents
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Register early; classes fill up quickly
- Register in person or by phone
- Classes last 30 minutes
- Children can wear comfortable clothes; ballet shoes, skirts, and leotards are great, but not necessary. Sparkles would have work sneakers for the whole class if we hadn’t found a pair of faux ballet shoes at the Disney Store for $3 🙂
- A family room is available right next to the dance classroom. Siblings and parents can chat, snack and play while class is in session.
- There is a restroom on the same floor that is equipped with a baby changing table.
- You can definitely use a stroller to get non-walking siblings into the building.
- Be prepared that you may need to sit in on the class a few times until your child is comfortable going in by themselves.
- A variety of additional dance classes are available. Take a look at the Fall/Winter 2013 schedule for a sampling of class options.
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