Why we're bucking the trend.
The newest dance trend appears to be Acro Dance. It’s exciting and something that seems fresh and new, who doesn’t want something up their sleeve to impress their rivals or the judge at a comp?
I’ve looked into teaching acro dance and I have made the decision not to bring this into my school. Let me explain why.
Within my week I teach ballet and dance to acrobatic gymnasts including World medal winners. Acrobatic gym isn’t what you might see
at the olympics - thats artisitic gymnastics (who knew there was a difference??!) These boys and girls are seriously well trained, the development kids do around 5 hours and by the time we get to the Elite squad its 22 hours a week. That’s time for cardio, conditioning, stretching, rehearsing routines and practising elements of routines time and time again. You watch them perform and it appear effortless. It’s not! My small input per week is to help create a seamless routine, dance leading to acrobatics without a visable join. I’ve watched them and thought “Wow! I’d love my students to be able to do some of that!” I have a pair that I have watched who even via a livestream managed to give me goosebumps performing their balance routine! They have developed artistry and they are dancers and gymnasts. I love to work with them as they are brilliant.
I bet you are thinking then what’s the problem? My children are once a week students - they may do several classes but they focus on one genre per session and it’s never longer than an hour.
Gymnasts train and dance on sprung floors, when they learn new tricks they have harnesses and thick crash mats. The floor they use is like dancing on the moon. My floor is a rolled vinyl, its not rock hard but it’s certainly not soft. I don’t have storage for an airtrack or thick mats so I couldn’t provide the resources they would require. Gymnasts have insurance, certainly members of British Gymnastics clubs, - they can’t enter the gym if they don’t. This includes the recreational gym kids. Gymnastics can be dangerous by the nature of falls etc. Your child needs to be protected. All dance teachers should have their own public liability insurance but gym needs more. Acro Arts training courses don’t seem to be in depth enough for me. To get my pilates qualification I had to attend 100 hours of training, plus take Anatomy and Physiology and Health and Fitness exams, for my ISTD quals I had to prove my own ability via Intermediate exams, take practical teaching exams, health and safety & lifespan and development exams, submit lesson plans and be observed teaching classes and write an essay about my chosen subject. SO in depth. Acro arts seem to be 2 day courses. For me that’s not enough information. Injuries! I’ve seen how easily children can injure themselves in the gym with all the safety equipement and high ratios of staff. I’m not prepared to take that risk. Its smoke and mirrors! I personally feel that the world of dance is losing something by being too interested in tricks. Bring in more artistry - make me believe your story! I teach a young lady who dances so beautifully - when she took her grade 1 ballet she danced the Mouse solo, at the end she runs upstage to look for her mouse but her isn’t there... with her back to the audience she sadly shakes her head and lets her arm drop. Shortly before her exam she gave me goosebumps, I thought it a fluke so my assistant came and watched and got the same feelings. She sold it to us that she lost her mouse, no back flip needed. Think of Odette in Swanlake - she breaks your heart standing still!
CM Dance will be commencing contemporary classes according to the brand new ISTD syllabus developed by the director of Rambert shortly.
If you chose acro I hope that you take the time to find a well trained teacher at a reputable school. Or alternatively find a gymnastics club and join a recreational class - dance and gym compliment each other.