Ballet Folklorico is the interpretation of mexican traditional dances. Mexican Folk Dancing represents dancistic anthropology and it is recognized as a world dance genre. In essence, Ballet Folklorico represents Mexico’s traditions and culture through dances that originated through centuries of Mexican history.
With this said, teaching Ballet Folklorico to children is not just dressing them in long skirts or big Sombreros and have them stomp their feet away.
There is a certain level of responsibility that every instructor should take upon themselves before teaching toddlers. Is a toddler class just catering to expose kids to dance and it is a form of recreational activity close to a “child care hour”? Or is it structured and academically sound as it should.
There is a balance between the abilities of a toddler and what the dance should look like. That is the focus of this article.
According to many toddler and child development experts, the attention span of a toddler is about 8 minutes. Anything being thought after this time will be ineffective. So how do you teach an entire hour of Ballet Folklorico? Simple: Change things up. Stop teaching steps and teach how to make a line or diagonal formation.
MAKE A REALISTIC DANCE REPERTOIRE
You are not going to be teaching a boy-girl partnered northern Polka from Chihuahua to a toddler. Partnering is complicated even for older kids. The dance material for toddlers should be easy to learn example Oaxaca waltzes. The steps are easy and allow the student to feel comfortable excelling at the dance. Do you get the picture? We are talking 3 year olds here.
MAKE IT SIMPLE
At their age, toddlers do not benefit from a teacher rambling and explaining things in a lengthy way. Call their name and in very few words correct them. Example: “Lisa, lift your arms more” “Daniel, use the other foot” “Mary, give more space to Sam” just add a please and a thank you to each request.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Don’t ask a toddler to do something explained by words. They are visual learners at this stage of their life. If you want these little students to do something then YOU have to do it in front of them.
Toddlers are looking at the “adult figures” to be in control. They are starter than you think and can tell if you are “winging” the class. They follow your expectations so if today is Veracruz steps or Jalisco steps, stick to the plan.
You ever had a toddler student raising the hand the entire hour asking to go to the bathroom, asking to drink water, asking for a snack, etc? A class needs rules, 3 times during the hour is plenty to address the issues. I have all the parents close by to receive their child and take him or her to the restroom only during those 3 times. This is one example of rules you can make for a successful class but you can make your own.
HAVE EFFICIENT PARENT-INSTRUCTOR COMMUNICATION
Keep the parents informed of their children progress. In our studio we have a glass wall so parents ca see their kid in action but above and beyond we communicate frequently to help the student become better each month.