If your child dreams of being a ballet dancer, Cincinnati is a great place to live! The Cincinnati Ballet’s Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition, and the Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy is a leading classical ballet training program. Students are taught by nationally and internationally recognized faculty at the Academy, which offers both comprehensive dance education and specialized summer training programs.
But don’t be intimidated by the Academy — the Cincinnati Ballet Children’s Division classes are accessible, kid friendly and, most importantly, fun! Last weekend, I took Mary to her first-ever ballet class: a Saturday morning Level 1 class taught by Miss Ashley and Miss Emma. I got to sit in on the 45-minute class, and it was pretty much the most adorable thing ever.
There were 8 students, ages 3-4, in little pink leotards, little pink tights and little pink ballet slippers. There was Disney music playing in the background, which was barely audible over the infectious, little girl laughter.
Each student was given a dot to stand on, and Miss Ashley went through various exercises with the girls. The ballet moves were colorfully described in ways the little preschoolers could understand — the girls stretched by “picking apples from a tree” and worked on core strength by doing “baby snake” poses. To get into First and Second positions, the girls each got to do “ballerina jumping jacks” on a hopscotch board. Mary’s favorite was the “fast/slow” game where she had to dance according to the song’s ever-changing tempo.
Both instructors did a wonderful job of engaging and assisting the girls. There were lots of dance breaks to “shake out the wiggles.” The class was very age appropriate, and the instructors had a great sense of humor with the giggly, spastic little dancers. Mary needed some extra help, and Miss Ashley was extremely kind and patient with her.
I can definitely see how ballet would help kids build skills like balance, focus, coordination, posture and strength. In fact, having taught kids’ yoga, I recognized many of the exercises as modified yoga postures.
However, in addition to the aforementioned physical skills, I see ballet as doing something even more important: building kids’ confidence and self esteem. Plus — all the girls were so happy and supportive of each other. It was such a special thing to see!
If you’ve been wanting to enroll your child in ballet, now’s the time! From now through November, new students ages 2-8 are invited to try their first Children’s Academy class for free. Simply call 513-562-1111 or email [email protected] to register for your child for their free class. If you decide to enroll your child after their first class, they’ll even waive the registration fee!
The Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy is located at 1555 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45214.