There are dance and drama schools aplenty in Singapore; each one is unique but all are dedicated to honing confidence and developing the performance gene in your child. We asked four expatriate parents to share their experiences.
Who: Athena Hoyes-Cock (age 2)
Attending: Centre Stage School of the Arts
Time at the school: One year
Athena’s father Robbie explains why Centre Stage School of the Arts works well for her.
“We live in the Wessex Estate, which is literally a five-minute walk from Centre Stage, so the location is extremely convenient for us. It’s also opposite Tanglin Trust School where our eldest daughter is in the Nursery.
Centre Stage was highly recommended to us. Their reputation is second to none and they are well regarded for their creativity as well as their engaging and friendly teachers.
Athena attends three times a week for between one-and-a-half and three hours each time. This is split between “Out of The Box”, which is a dropoff, and “Play Stage”, which is an accompanied class and ideal for collaborative learning. It’s also great fun for parents to observe the development, progress and journey that our little ones are making.
The improvement in Athena’s confidence, speech and sociability has been striking. She has gone from being very nervous with strangers to now being fully comfortable with her teachers – every time we pass by Centre Stage Athena shouts out “My School! My School!” – which is heart-warming.
Athena loves her teachers, Ms Irene, Mr Peter and Ms Naki, and is always talking about them. She’s also particularly excited about bringing home her daily creations to share with us. Our favourites were a hanging mobile for above her bed and a clay menagerie of animals.”
Who: Miria Baek (8)
Attending: Luminous Dance Academy (LDA)
Time at the academy: Three months (LDA opened in July 2016); her teacher from the past four years is now at LDA, too
Miria’s mother Mirei explains her daughter’s experience at Luminous Dance Academy.
“Ms Laura is an amazing teacher because she focuses on each student andmakes themall feel special. Miria likes French-style ballet so it’s the perfect place for her, and importantly they have a good Parisian opera teacher too. She takes ballet three times a week (90-minute session) and contemporary dance (60 minutes) once a week.
Initially, the academy asked about Miria’s dance experience and they observed her at the first lesson to make sure the class would be suitable. They don’t strictly group the kids by age, which means that if Miria is more serious, and has the focus, she will have the opportunity to participate in classes with older kids, which is very inspiring.
Miria is not interested in taking exams for ballet or dancing; however, she attends competitions and thinks this is an important way to gain confidence and also experience.
I have noticed a difference in her confidence. She has many opportunities to learn and dance with the older kids and the teachers. This gives her more confidence and the chance to improve because she has a good example to follow. She is eager to learn and be like them!
Miria tells me that she loves the studio because of its special bouncy floor, the big windows and, of course, the great teachers!”
Who: Jessica Cunningham (13)
Attending: Tanglin Arts Studio
Time at the studio: Three years
Melissa, Jessica’s mother, describes their experience at Tanglin Arts Studio.
“Jessica has been dancing since she was two-and-a-half years old so finding the right dance studio was very important when we moved to Singapore. I researched studios from Australia and from the outset Tanglin Arts just felt right. It reminded me of the studio in Sydney where Jessica had danced for six years.
Jessica attends ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre and lyrical jazz and is a member of the performance team. With this schedule she is attending four times per week totalling about nine-and-a-half hours of classes.
On signing up, Jessica attended their Open Day to try a few different classes and this gave the teachers the opportunity to assess her level and suggest suitable classes. She started with just a couple of classes a week while we got used to Singapore life and she has added to the schedule as the years have progressed.
For the last two years, selected students have taken the Australian Teachers of Dance exams in jazz, ballet and tap. Jessica has taken the exams in these three dance disciplines for some time and I feel they do help dancers with their progress and, most importantly, technique.
Dance is great way for kids to gain confidence. Jessica has grown as a performer over the years and in particular the last 12 months. Being able to get out on a stage and portray a story through dance is a wonderful skill. Tanglin Arts Studio also competes in the “Get the Beat” dance competition that comes to Singapore once a year. Jessica danced two solos in the competition this year, placing second in Musical Theatre and equal fifth in Tap with another member of the team.
Without hesitation, Jessica says the thing she loves most about the studio are her friends. Dancers have a special bond, especially as they can spend lots of hours together rehearsing and performing. The teachers and staff at Tanglin are a huge support and are always willing to help with any concerns. They are passionate about dance and know how to get the best out of their performers, no matter what their age.”
Who: Salome Chauffaille (7)
Attending: L’Academie de Danse
Time at the academy: Six years
Salome’s mother Anne answers our questions about L’Academie de Danse.
“We’ve been in Singapore since 2008, and we started Salome at L’Academie when she was two-and-a-half years old; her sister has attended too. Salome is now in Junior Ballet and she attends twice a week – a total of two-and-a-half hours. I heard about L’Academie from other French mothers who praised the quality of the curriculum, so I took the girls for a trial and spoke with the director, Maude Tolédano.
Maude was very helpful in explaining the curriculum and the philosophy of the school. Later, when I told her that Salome wanted to increase her number of classes, she recommended we move her to Junior Ballet. The progress Salome has made this year is just outstanding.
The classes are based on the French curriculum, which provides a sound technical foundation, but they are taught in a friendly and accessible way for the kids. I also love the fact that the kids and the parents can observe all the children across different age groups in order to give them an idea of what is possible at what age, and what progress to expect.
Salome has definitely gained from ballet. She is obviously more flexible but most importantly she is now very comfortable in her body, and has developed a positive selfesteem. She has also developed a very good “musical ear” that is helping her with her violin classes. She also appreciates the need for practice and has learnt the discipline required to perform a pose as it needs to be performed.
When I asked Salome what she loves about L’Academie, she answered: Maude, her friends, and the “big kids and what they can do”; she also said that she loves dancing!”
This article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of Expat Living. Subscribe so you never miss an issue!
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