We offer classes in Classical Ballet….

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Contemporary Dance….

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Ukrainian & Folk….

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For all ages!

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For Hip Hop classes:  http://www.thedancehallmorganhill.com/hip-hop-craze.html 

South Valley Dance Arts Curriculum

Philosophy

At South Valley Dance Arts, we focus on the dancer as a whole, emphasizing the development of the body, mind and spirit. Through our program, with its established levels and syllabus, we support and challenge each dancer as she/he travels the path towards excellence. We implement progressive training with a scientific basis to promote health and well being, while maximizing the dancer’s potential.

For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise.  More recently we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.

Then most recently we’ve heard of another benefit:  Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter.  A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit.  Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.

Scientific Training
In recent years, research has shown that dancers excel when they follow a training routine that is based less on historic and outdated modes of training and instead incorporate new approaches to training. These include knowledge of human biomechanics, the science of how muscles and joints interact to create maximum efficiency movement.

Traditional training lacks several key components. There are areas of the dancers body that are under-trained by a traditional class, making the dancer prone to injury. There are other areas that are over-trained. To maximize the benefit of ballet training, the teachers must understand the difference between aesthetic principles and movement efficiency. The first step in training a dancer is to improve the dancers basic joint and muscle coordination. This is done through instructing dance anatomy with an experiential emphasis. In other words, providing classes in which the dancer feels a difference in their movement, experiencing how anatomical knowledge can improve flexibility, balance, alignment and turn out. This motivates the young dancer not to force his/her body into shapes he/she is not prepared for, but to understand the healthiest way to produce the demanding shapes and forms of ballet. The result is an educated dancer that can distinguish healthy from harmful training.

How does this work in practice?
There are three fundamental steps:
1.  Analysis of the dancers strengths and weaknesses
2.  Creating a pathway plan to eliminate weaknesses and increase strengths
3.  Repeat practice of the improved movement pattern until they feel natural


Mind and Body Principals in Dance
South Valley Dance Arts prides on a systematic and scientific mental training program.  Mental practice is a fundamental skill in any movement training.

There are three areas of mental practice relevant to the dancer:

  1. Increasing confidence and motivation
    A dancers life can be very stressful and competitive, involving an intense performance schedule and lengthy and stressful auditions. Mind/Body training can help in both of these areas. In the first step, the confidence level and mental challenges of the dancer are analyzed. Through mental practice and scripting exercises, the dancers are taught how to deal with stressful situations and maintain their confidence. Stage fright and the preparation for auditions are two areas where mental training can make a huge difference. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between mood and performance. By being able to improve the mood and confidence level of the dancer, he/she will gain control over his/her performance in all situations.
  2. Learning steps faster and easier
    Certain mental training interventions called imagery strings are able to help dancers of all ages to learn steps much faster and easier. Dancers that can learn steps fast have a great advantage over dancers that have difficulty in learning.
  3. Improving technique
    Many studies have shown that you can improve your dance technique faster if mental training is combined with dance training rather than just taking classes. The problem with simply taking class is that training does not necessarily improve a dancers skill. How could this be? To improve dance technique the dancer must be provided with insights that create better movement efficiency tailored to their specific body type. Traditionally in dance class, instructions are focused on creating the right form irrespective of how to achieve this form in the healthiest and technically most intelligent way for the individual dancer. In the traditional way of training, negative movement patterns actually can get ingrained in the dancers body and then lead to injury.

How to Improve Your Technique

  1. Observation/concentration – notice what is presently going on in your body.
  2. Feedback – do you like what is currently happening, or could it be improved?
  3. Implementation – create a new action that will produce the desired result

 

What are the fundamental differences between ballet, modern dance and folk dance? 

There are many similarities and differences between ballet, folk and modern dance. All three are physical expressions of creativity and an art form being practiced and performed today. In many ways, the three categories of dance can intersect and correlate as well. This can be seen in modern ballet which takes both elements of classical ballet with contemporary themes or folk dances with the same symmetrical lines and repetition as ballet. An example of this can be seen in many modern ballet companies such as the Eifman ballet company who recently took a very classic novel and choregraphed a ballet with modern themes such as minimalism and sexuality (Mauro, 2005).

However, there are also many differences between ballet, folk and modern dance due to the broad categories and types of dance and interpretation that can occur. Ballet has been honed through centuries of study and practice and Classical ballet carries themes of poise and discipline (“History and terminology,” 2012). Therefore, ballet has physical requirements as well as classical themes. Folk dance on the other hand is a free expression of the self that is found thematically in different cultures. This means that there are less rigid physical requirements and is geared towards the common person or anyone who wants to dance. Modern dance, on the other hand, focuses on contemporary and modern themes and is different from ballet in its variance on structure, physical requirements as well as ways it is interpreted.

Line and form in modern dance differ dramatically from ballet. Modern dance emphasizes the use of line and form in expression instead of as structure. An example of this is seen in the work of Martha Graham who uses sharp and jagged movements instead of long and fluid movements. While there may be some repetition in modern dance, many dancers focus on developing new styles and steps throughout their routine (Bedinghaus, 2012).

Photos above by Robert Shomler, Jon Lance  and Nathan Smith