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Why is dance so important for young people?

Ahead of this weekend’s Chance to Dance performance, we asked a participant, teacher and a Royal Ballet Soloist why experiencing dance at a young age is so valuable.

By Lizzi Easterbrook (Former Content Producer (Learning and Participation))

24 May 2014 at 10.33am | 3 Comments

This weekend, our Chance to Dance Company is performing a double bill at the Royal Opera House. The Company is made up of over 200 young people aged 7-11 and working alongside dancers from The Royal Ballet, they will be performing Still Life at the Penguin Café and Peter and the Wolf, both known for their colourful characters.

Before the performance, we spoke to participant Lois Samphier-Read, teacher Madelaine Price and Royal Ballet Soloist Kenta Kura to hear their thoughts on characterization, storytelling and why dancing and performing is important for young people:

‘Telling a story is different to reading a story. It is better to tell a story by showing it. I am the Bird in Peter and the Wolf. The Wolf tries to catch me, but I trick him so Peter doesn’t get hurt. You have to flutter your wings and act like you live in the sky, feel like you are a bird. I do lots of jumps and flutter my hands to make my arms look like wings. And I get into character more when in costume.

‘It’s really inspiring working with a professional dancer like Kenta. It’s a really cool experience to be learning these steps and having lots of solos. I’m learning lots of new things I could use in the future.

‘When you get all of the company together, it makes you feel that the performance is really going to be something special and makes you realise you can do anything that you put your mind to.’

Lois Samphier-Read (aged 11) is playing the bird in Peter and the Wolf.

So many young people don’t have access to dance and the arts as part of their education and upbringing, but I think it is vital that more children have opportunities to watch, be part of and perform dance. We need to make it as inherent in our culture as sport.

Through the Chance to Dance programme, I’ve watched the children grow in confidence and become more focussed, both in our classes and at school. It’s been wonderful watching the groups prepare for these performance. The group working on Still Life at the Penguin Café have researched the endangered species and it’s lovely to be able to reach young people on that level.

The excitement in the air after a performance makes you realize how magical it is for these children to work in such a professional environment. 

Madelaine Price is a teacher on the Chance to Dance programme.

‘It is incredibly important to pass on ballet and dance to the younger generation. You can teach dance in a ballet class, but it’s a completely different experience being on stage and seeing professional dancers. I started dancing when I was 8 years old, and when I first saw professional dancers, I was just amazed by how they danced – everything from the breathing to the lifts they performed. I was watching technique that you can’t learn in a classroom – little things you see that you remember later down the line.

‘I have been in rehearsals with the Duck, the Bird and the Cat. I catch the Duck, I eat the Bird, I get caught by Peter. It’s interesting to watch the kids to see how they perform so we can create a dynamic on stage. It is real teamwork in the rehearsals and amazing how it has progressed in just the two rehearsals we have had together. They are so quick to learn!

‘The programme is so important for aspiring young dancers. It is just the best opportunity for kids to get the feeling of technique, energy and dynamics from a professional.’

Kenta Kura is a Soloist with The Royal Ballet. He is playing the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf.

Chance to Dance provides a creative introduction to ballet for Year 3 children in partnership primary schools in Thurrock and the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark through Royal Ballet demonstrations and practical dance workshops. Children identified with a particular enthusiasm and aptitude for dance are invited to join the Chance to Dance Company for up to four years, which involves weekly classes (out of school) in their local venue, family days at the Royal Opera House and an annual performance working alongside dancers from The Royal Ballet.

Find out more about the programme.

Generously supported by Mrs Lily Safra, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, MariaMarina Foundation, Marit Mohn, Orinoco Foundation, Marina Hobson MBE, Simon and Tracey Holden, Gonzalo and Maria Garcia, Eugene and Stephanie Leouzon, Atosa Moini, Raymonde Jay, Robin Vince, Sue Street, Katrin and Chritoph Henkel, Royal Opera House Endowment Fund, Thurrock Borough Council, Freed of London, Sue Sheridan and The Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Charitable Trust.

By Lizzi Easterbrook (Former Content Producer (Learning and Participation))

24 May 2014 at 10.33am

This article has been categorised Learning and tagged Ballet, Chance to dance, Dance, Kenta Kura, learning, learning and participation, peter and the wolf, still life at the penguin cafe

This article has 3 comments

  1. Helen Gill responded on 29 May 2014 at 4:32pm Reply

    Can I comment from a parent's perspective? My daughter is now 17 and she has danced since she was 4; we have always found it quite difficult to scrabble together the money to pay for her lessons, but it is worth every penny. Dance has brought her so much joy, control over her body and freedom of movement that she otherwise may not have (she has hyper mobility syndrome). She has made friends, laughed, cried and every emotion in between. She knows that dance requires dedication and discipline, she has transferred that skill to every area of her life and she understands that you get out what you put in. More than anything though she just comes alive when she performs - she shakes off the considered, sensible academic that she is (that we are also very proud of!) and can be anything at all - sassy, sad, joyful, expressive etc, etc. We love gong to watch Royal Ballet productions - we buy the cheapest seats, sit up in the gods and have just as good a time as people who have paid hundreds of pounds. The arts are for everyone, I wish there were school trips to see productions that were affordable and local - I would definitely take my primary school class! This Chance to Dance scheme sounds like an excellent initiative - long may it continue!

  2. udoka responded on 18 June 2014 at 9:45pm Reply

    It was really fun doing this performance. Sadly this is my last year.I will continue dance. Thanks Chance To Dance

  3. as a student i would like to say that dance is an exercise which can change your life as of mine. today i m enjoying dance. dance is an art so every one should know it.

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