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  • Kim Eilian

How we teach dance at Little Barn and why we focus on Dance Basics through Theatre Dance?

Theatre Dance - a combination of Broadway Ballet, tap, jazz, and popular dance, together with singing, acting, and always putting on shows!

Written By: Kim Elian

Director of Dance / Founder of Little Barn Dance and Musical Theatre Co.

As a parent, have you ever been frustrated when your child has been attending dance classes for years, only to realize they lack the fundamentals of dance?

Or perhaps you've faced the challenge of motivating your child to attend a class that you know is good for them, like classical ballet, but they become turned off, uninspired, overwhelmed or bored.

If so, you're not alone.

With over 30 years of teaching experience in at least 10 different studios, taking countless classes in NYC since my early 20s after graduating as a Dance Major from the University of California, Irvine, with an emphasis on Musical Theatre, and growing up in ballet class before learning jazz, tap, and popular dance as a teenager from countless teachers with different approaches, and having a 9-year-old myself who has been taking dance classes since he was 3, I feel like I am an expert on this topic - phew! 😅

It became my life mission to create a program to address these issues with a curriculum exclusively focused on universal dance fundamentals of Theatre Dance - a combination of our signature LB Broadway Ballet, tap, jazz, and popular dance, all in one class as "dances" that the students learn, practice, and perform before moving up a level.

The classes are designed to be fresh, fun, and approachable, featuring clever and charming dances (with only 3 or 4 skills per dance) to watch in performances and always accompanied by singing a song and telling a story. It's a class for students with busy schedules and perfect for theater camp as they respond to it immediately, finding success starting from the first day.

Sounds like a dream? Well, dreams do come true at Little Barn.

After years of trial and error, I know we have a winning approach at LB. By focusing on Dance Basics that transform into simple dances and progress into more complicated dances as the students graduate from beginning levels 1 - 3, combined with innovative teaching techniques with a structured curriculum with great music, as well as singing and acting, Little Barn Dance and Musical Theatre Co. provides a dance education that ensures students not only learn the fundamentals of dance but also enjoy the process.

We are witnessing our students thrive in this approach. It inspires a love of dance, helps them develop a strong foundation in dance, and it's approachable and fun!

I find that when I consistently discover great music to which the dancers respond and love, focus on dance basics (instead of choreography), and follow the music, the dances come together effortlessly and become charming performance pieces in our LB Broadway Ballet, Tap, Theatre Dance / Jazz and Popular Dance. The students get a chance to learn, practice, internalize, and refine the dance steps and movement as they progress through the curriculum and levels and put on lots of shows!

So if this approach sounds appealing and you are interested in our mission and decide to sign up for our camps and classes, get ready to giggle and delight in watching your child come alive and thrive in our programs and performances in our beautiful and inspiring spaces.

Examples of dances in performances:

This is our kick ball change, box step, and kick hop basics, level 1, in our Theatre Dance - "I'm a Believer" from "Shrek the Musical." (the campers learned in three days)

This is our ballet basics, Broadway Ballet, level 1, to "I am Ken" from the movie "Barbie”, we called it our “Barbie Ballet”. (the campers learned in three days)

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see more examples of how we teach and what our clever dance basics performances look like!

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