PRESCHOOL DIVISION (Ages 2-5)
The preschool division focuses on age appropriate skills such as jumping, skipping, leaping and galloping. The use of various teaching tools such as scarves, mats, hoops and rhythm instruments enhance the learning/teaching process. As children progress from one level to the next, they are introduced to concepts such as body placement, coordination and the concept that their body is an instrument of self expression.
Dance with Me is a mommy and me program for children 2-3 years old designed to reinforce cognitive skills; develop an understanding of concepts such as over, under, around and through; help in the recognition of shapes and colors all while enjoying music and movement in a 45 minute class with a parent or caregiver. Comfortable clothing and bare feet are required.
Creative Movement is a 45 minute class for children ages 3-4 years old. It is required that all students are able to separate from parents/caregivers and that all children be potty trained. Children explore movement through a loosely structured class with floor-work, center-work and across the floor movement. Although emphasis is placed on building skills, creative expression and exploration are essential components of this class. Children wear leotards, footless tights and no shoes.
Pre-Dance is a one hour class for children ages 4-5 years old. Classes in pre-dance are more formal and structured as students are more coordinated and capable of skill based learning. Although creative expression continues to be nurtured at this stage, dance vocabulary and movements begin to be taught. Children wear leotards, footless tights and no shoes.
Pre-Modern is a one hour class for students 5 years old. It is the precursor to structured modern dance training. Coordination, jumping, leaping, stretching and flexibility are emphasized. This is definitely a class for a high energy student. Students begin to develop an understanding that modern dance unlike ballet uses movement both on the floor and standing upright. Children must wear leotards, footless tights and no shoes.
Pre-Ballet is a one hour class for students 5 years old who choose to explore the more structured art of ballet. For the first time children will use the barre to learn skills specific to ballet technique. Classes begin at the barre; include center floor work; and conclude with across the floor work inclusive of jumps and leaps. Although ballet requires outward rotation of the legs and feet, SMAPA instructor refrain from stressing this element of training until students are older and leg muscles and joints are more fully developed. Children must wear tights leotards and ballet slippers (a skirt is optional).
Girls/Boys Hip Hop is for children ages 5-7 years old. High energy aerobic type movement is fundamental to this class which uses age appropriate “today” style music. Warming up the body through stretching exercises is emphasized, followed by the teaching of sequential movements that develop into a routine. Great for the mind and body, but also just fun! Children wear comfortable clothes and jazz shoes or dance sneakers. NO OUTDOOR FOOTWEAR IS PERMITTED.
JUNIOR DIVISION (Ages 6-11)
At the Junior Division level opportunities begin for developmental training in Ballet, Modern, Traditional Modern Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop and Musical Theater Workshop. In general placement in classes is geared to a student’s chronological age. Consideration, however, is also given to their skill level. Most students will remain in a level for an entire academic year. A student however, is never held back if advancement is warranted mid-year. All students are evaluated individually at the end of each year and are given a written assessment as to whether to remain in or progress to the next level.
Classical Ballet is a formal structured dance form which begins with exercises at the barre which help to strengthen and align the body as well as outwardly rotate the legs and feet. After the barre work is completed, center floor work allows students to experience moving without the assistance of the barre. This is followed by combinations moving the body across the floor with turns, leaps and jumps. Tremendous care is given to a student’s body placement and alignment as they learn the positions and shapes of classical ballet movements. In general Pointe work begins at age 12 when a student progresses to the Prep Division. Progression, however, is according to the student’s individual skill level.
Many parents and students ask “what is the difference between Ballet and Modern.” By definition, Modern is a style of theatrical dancing in bare feet that is not as restricted as classical ballet; positions of the feet are often parallel as well as turned out; movements are expressive of feelings and uses space in a more varied way in that dance movements are executed both standing, in the air and on the floor.
The other question often asked is, “what is the difference between Traditional Modern Jazz and Hip Hop”. Traditional Modern Jazz is more closely related to Modern dance style and technique and often is more theatrical in its approach. Hip Hop is fundamentally gesture based movement and more reflective of the style and rhythmic patterns of today’s music.
Musical Theater Workshop gives students the opportunity to develop original material for presentation, both spoken word and choreography, which is presented in an informal studio performance at the end of each 16 week semester.
Tap, as taught by SMAPA teaching artists, is traditional Rhythm Tap. Students learn percussive rhythms as if their feet were a percussion instrument. As they progress from one level to the next, the rhythmic patterns and footwork become more difficult - great for developing listening skills!
PREP DIVISION (Ages 12-18)
The Prep Division provides the serious student as well as the student who simply enjoys the study of dance, the opportunity to develop and refine their skills. Students under 12 are permitted to enroll in classes within this division with instructor approval. Prep Division students may also take certain Adult Division classes with instructor approval. At this level students are encouraged to take multiple classes in order to maximize their training regimen. The more serious student is also encouraged to study multiple dance forms in order to expand their versatility and build a broader base of skills.
Classes offered are Modern, Ballet, Pointe, Partnering, Tap, Traditional Modern Jazz, Contemporary Modern Jazz, Hip Hop, Choreography (Composition), “Turns, Tricks & Leaps”, and Salsa.
Modern at this level is more defined in terms of technique. Depending on the developmental level of the class Graham, Horton and/or Dunham based techniques are taught. Students are encouraged at this level to develop greater self-expression through movement.
Ballet is the underpinning of a solid dance technique. Classical ballet training helps perfect alignment and placement while encouraging grace and fluidity of movement. Serious students are encouraged to take at least one ballet class per week even if ballet is not their dance form of choice.
Pointe classes can only been taken with instructor approval. Students should have had at least several years ballet experience and be strong enough for the rigor of pointe training. It is mandatory that a ballet class be taken prior to the pointe class to insure proper warm up.
Tap, as taught by SMAPA teaching artists, is traditional Rhythm Tap. As students progress from one level to the next, the degree of difficulty increases.
Traditional Modern Jazz is much like theater dance - closely related to modern dance technique yet more stylized.
Contemporary Modern Jazz uses the movement vocabulary of modern dance but more contemporary music. Choreographic phrases are developed from one class to the next allowing students to experience the joy of building choreography to the point of classroom performance.
Hip Hop is gesture based movement, aerobic in nature, using the music of “today” in a high energy one hour class.
Choreography class is a composition class where students learn the fundamental of creating dances. Most often taught on the college level, the more advanced student will benefit from an early start in understanding the basics of developing movement for the stage.
Variations class introduces to advance ballet students (Ballet levels 5 & up) to the famous choreography of demi soloists, soloists & principal dances from different ballets within the Ballet Repertoire. Students in this class would be taking at least 3-4 ballet classes a week, pointe classes & modern classes. This class builds strength, poise & awareness. Its emphasis is not only to learn the steps to the dance but developing artistry, the ability to tell a story through movement, the creativity & imagination of the student to portray the character in the ballet & be inventive with musicality. The students have an opportunity to gain knowledge of many famous ballets while learning to study & dance challenging variations. Variations class is on pointe.
The Adult Division was designed to provide adult dancers (both trained and non-trained) a non competitive forum in which to simply enjoy dance. The class offerings are Ballet, Modern, Jazz, West African, Tap, AM Exercise, Senior Exercise, Theatre Dance, Zumba, Floor Barre and Salsa Aerobics.
Floor Barre is a gentle yoga-like class which incorporates element of yoga, stretching, core muscle work and Pilates all while paying close attention to breathing and tension-free movement. The class takes place predominately on the floor.
Theatre Dance - join the fun as we warm up with jazz and modern dance exercises, then learn a Broadway style combination. All levels welcome.
Iyengar Yoga emphasizes complete alignment of the body, mind, breath, and soul and is accessible to every age and every body.
All other standard class offerings - Ballet, Modern, Jazz, West African, and Tap - are basic level and open to adults of all ages.
Our Senior Exercise Program is open to all seniors 65 and older and is taught by Linda Hirsch certified in Senior Fitness.
For adults who require a higher level class the Prep Division classes can be accessed.