Worried that your children might have inherited your two left feet? Fear not. There are drama and dance schools aplenty in Singapore, each one dedicated to highlighting the Gene Kelly (rather than the gene pool!) in your child. We asked three expatriate mothers to share their experiences.
Helena Johnson, UK
Helena and her husband first moved to Singapore in January 2000 and two of their three daughters, Fiona (6) and Caroline (4), attend Kavanagh Dance Centre.
“My two eldest daughters were introduced to hip hop as part of the curriculum at their preschool,” says Helena. “They found it enormously good fun with plenty of great music and lots of wiggling about!”
The hip hop classes, it turned out, were run by teachers from Kavanagh Dance and Helena knew many children who attended classes there. She’d only ever heard positive feedback from parents.
For Helena, “As soon as I met Ruby Kavanagh and her team of teachers I knew that I had made the right decision sending my girls there. They are such lovely, enthusiastic, caring people with an absolute passion for dance.”
As well as hip hop, both of their girls do ballet and jazz dance. “Fiona and Caroline really enjoyed their ballet exams,” remembers Helena. “They got to dress up in special outfits, had their hair tied up and topped with a tiara, performed a variety of steps and set pieces in front of an external examiner and then, to round off the afternoon, were given a shiny silver medal!” Another of Helena’s favourite memoriesis of watching Caroline and her friends in a class-based mini-recital last term.
Both girls look forward to their Friday afternoon classes and Helena sees their enthusiasm for dance continuing to grow. Caroline likes it so much that there are plans to hold a belated birthday party for her at Kavanagh Dance next month. She will be taught a dance routine, then dress up and perform it with her friends.
“I would definitely recommend Kavanagh Dance,” Helena says. “It’s a school where the classes are taken very seriously by the teachers but are still great fun for the children.” Plus, she laughs, “the decision to move Kavanagh Dance to Loewen Gardens has made my life a lot easier as now (youngest daughter) Emma can play happily on the trampolines while she waits for her sisters to finish their class.’
Tanglin Arts Studio
Fiona Fulton, UK
Both of Fiona’s daughters, Emma (11) and Rachel (8), started dancing at the age of three. “They were always bopping about the house if there was music on, and they loved coming home and showing us any new dances they had learned,” remembers Fiona. “I loved the fact that they managed to burn off lots of excess energy.”
After Fiona and her family moved to Singapore in 2007, a couple of friends recommended Tanglin Arts Studio to her. “The website gave me all the information I needed, including age groups, times, costs and how to register.” She took the girls to a trial class and they loved it.
According to Fiona, Tanglin Arts Studio allows the girls to let their hair down while learning a constructive and useful skill. “They also get the opportunity to make friends with children from different schools.”
Fiona believes that both girls have grown in confidence and independence, which she believes comes from the studio’s staff being so friendly and caring. “The teachers are passionate about dancing and they manage to strike a fantastic balance between discipline, hard work and fun. They also treat each girl as an individual.”
One of the family’s most memorable experiences at Tanglin Arts Studio was when Emma was picked for one of the leading roles in The Nutcracker. “The day Emma found out about it from the teachers is one I will always remember. She came out of the studio that day with her face beaming; she was elated and so excited about being offered the part and having to attend extra rehearsals.”
For Fiona and the other parents, the ultimate chance to see what has been learned during the year is at the dance recital in May. “The venue and costumes are fantastic and watching all the children, from tiny tots through to older dancers, is amazing. We love watching how their dancing progresses as they get older.”
Centre Stage School of Arts
Audrie Clarke, UK
As befits a student and now teacher of drama, it was perhaps inevitable that all four of Audrie’s children should grow up liking it. “Thanks to Centre Stage, they’ve been interested in it from the start.”
Audrie chose Centre Stage for many reasons: “the setting, the staff, the classes; everything just smacks of fun and creativity”. From day one, when eldest child Archie attended his first class, the response has been positive. “All the children love being part of a group and sharing experiences with new friends,” says Audrie. “The fact that the classes are so active and inspiring means that something different happens every week. They can let their imaginations run wild.” The proof of this is that Centre Stage has outlasted all of the other extracurricular activities on the family calendar.
Aside from having a good time, Audrie’s children have “gained self-confidence and the knowledge that everyone is important and part of a team”. The classes have also encouraged a love of literature. “My daughter is practising a play about the Greeks at the moment, so you have history and geography all tied into a class that she considers a bit of fun.”
Two of Audrie’s boys were initially unsure about the idea of drama – perhaps echoing the feelings of their sports-mad father. But, she says, “Attending Centre Stage has given them much more confidence in themselves and with their friends.” In fact, one of them recently made a speech to his whole school about the pros and cons of wearing a uniform. The children’s experiences at the centre have also made them more confident around adults. They seem more interested in all aspects of school life now, too.
Audrie remembers her second son, Monty, then aged two, and his immense pride at operating the sound-board during the end-of-term show. Audrie’s advice to parents is clear: “Get your children enrolled as soon as possible. The earlier they start, the greater the benefits will be.”