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Keeping Kids Active after School: Ballet


After school ballet classes are filled with little girls, most dreaming of tutus and the lights on them as they pirouette gracefully across the stage. Dreams are great, but there are also some practical reasons why it's smart for a child to study ballet.

Ballet Helps Build Coordination, Flexibility, and Agility

Ballet is not a sport, but the study of ballet has many of the same physical benefits you would gain from participating in a sport. Ballerinas spend hours carefully positioning their bodies into many poses and then holding the poses, which helps the body gain flexibility and strength. Coordination comes into play not only from practice coordinating various body parts, but also in coordinating movements with music.

Ballet Helps Develop Grace

Grace isn't a quality much mentioned today, but most of us will agree its a fine attribute:  who wouldn't like to move more gracefully? The various ballet positions were designed specifically to showcase the human body at its finest. Think of the ballerina with her arms up - they're framing her face. Ballerinas who in real life are rather short look tall and graceful as they flutter across the stage en pointe. Ballet class will teach your child good posture as she learns to keep her shoulders back, chin lifted, and toes pointed.

Ballet Teaches a Smattering of French

Parlez-vous francais? You will, a bit, if you study ballet. Just as most musical terms are in Italian, most ballet terms are in French (a carry over from the days of ballet's founder, French King XIV). The standard ballet exercises are still called by their French names. Your child will learn that plie means to bend, pas de chat means dance of the cat, rond de jambe means circle of the leg - and that's just a beginning.

Ballet Helps Kids Make a Group of Friends

Rarely is ballet studied privately. Usually classes are held for groups, and the girls (or the occasional brave boy) bond with each other through the time spent together in the studio and locker room. If your child is in a ballet performance, the children will no doubt bond with each other during the rehearsals and performances themselves. Having a common interest (dance) brings people together, and it's an excellent way for a child to make new friends.

Ballet is an Excellent Form of Exercise

It's no accident that many football players study ballet in the off-season. It's an excellent form of exercise, and similar to swimming it benefits participants by helping them develop the elongated, lean muscle mass that most of us want. The isometric techniques used in ballet develop long and strong muscles. It's an excellent exercise form for children.

Ballet Develops Discipline

Most ballet studios are disciplined places. You won't find lots of running and yelling, but rather children who are going through a set of long-ago developed routines of steps and positions. The process of learning these routines and coordinating them with music, then thanking your teacher and accompanist at the end of class, develops a discipline in children that will serve them well in all areas of life.

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