There are many wonderful ballet steps for kids that they can do during class and at home for practice.
When dealing with ballet positions for kids, one has to be careful to choose exercises that are appropriate for the age and strength of the child. Doing exercises before the child is ready for it could cause more harm than good.
Here are a few tips and rules to keep in mind when working with little bodies and planning your ballet steps for kids.
Ballet Steps For Kids
When teaching the 1st Position, make sure the child is not forcing her turnout. Lots of kids love to try and be real ballerina’s and stand with their feet turned out at 180 degrees. Well, most of the general population just doesn’t have and never will have that amount of turnout in the hips. We have to train children to work with what they have without damaging their bodies. Make sure that the child’s knees are lined up over her toes in 1st position.
Demi plie is a good ballet step to give a child, provided it is done correctly. Ensure that when the child bends, the knees are going over the toes and that the bend doesn’t go so low that the heels lift off the floor. The child must feel the insides of her thighs parting as she goes down.
The back must be held erect throughout, as normally with children the tail bone often pops out as they bend.
Princess Toes and Frog Toes:
Kids enjoy this exercise and it teaches them how to use their feet. If they do it properly with a tall back, they will also feel a nice stretch up the backs of their legs. Let them sit on the floor with straight backs and their legs straight out in front of them. When they point their toes they make ‘princess’s toes’ and then they can make ‘frog toes’ by flexing their feet. It may help to let them sit with their backs against a wall.
Check that when the child points her feet that they are straight, or you could be encouraging a sickled foot. If possible the heels and toes should be touching. However, if the child can’t manage to get her legs together, then let her glue her knees together and make sure her feet are parallel to each other.
Skipping is a great ballet step to teach children. Normally children under the age of three will battle with skips, but by the age of 5, most children will have grasped how to do them. Try to encourage the children to lift their knees high so that the side of the big toe touches the side of the supporting leg on each skip. Skips should have a light quality and be well lifted and jumped in ballet.
Marching should perhaps be taught just before skipping, as the feet are in the same place on the side of the knee. This will also teach the children to lift their legs nice and high in preparation for skips. Now would be a great time to add some musical instruments like drums or tambourines.
Children can maybe have turns to play for each other, matching the beating of the drum with her friend’s feet hitting the floor. Marches in half time is also a great exercise to teach the children to balance.
Walks are great ballet steps for kids. You can have lots of fun with walks. They could be fast, slow, high, or low. A simple way to teach children transference of weight, as it is something that they can all do naturally.
Running on “Tippy Toes”
Teaching a child to run on the balls of her feet is one of the first things she should learn in ballet class. Running on the toes strengthens the feet and teaches the dancer to run gracefully. The children should be encouraged to lift up their bodies as they run and grow tall, so they are light on their toes.
Jumps should be taught parallel, in 1st position and in 2nd for little ones and beginners. A great way to teach the children to push off the floor with their feet is to sit them with their feet flat against a wall. Let them bend their knees and get them to push off the wall while simultaneously stretching their legs and feet as they leave the wall and slide away from it along the floor, using their hands for support so they don’t fall over.
Jumps are a very important part of dance training, as they strengthen the legs, feet, and bones. Make sure the children bend well when coming out of a jump, and aim to land with their toes touching the floor first then the heels. Try to enforce the landing with the heels touching all the way down at a young age, otherwise, they will battle to do it later on.
Pony gallops are great fun for kids. It is also a great exercise for rhythm. Teach them to clap two claps in quick succession and pause. Now the feet do what the hands are doing, jump land. It is like skipping with a skipping rope, and once they have the step you can encourage them to lift their knees high up in front of them while they “jump over the fences.”
Most important, when teaching these ballet steps for kids, keep the class moving and fun, especially with the little ones, as they lose concentration very easily.