This is a per­fect way to get your chil­dren off their smart­phones and TV this hol­i­day sea­son

Business Daily (Kenya) - - BDLIFE ACTIVELIFE - Diana Mutheu

Chil­dren dressed in leo­tards, tights and bal­let shoes, do moves that many adults would strug­gle to do. The chil­dren aged five to 13 years are very flex­i­ble and they syn­chro­nise their moves with pre­ci­sion and without much ef­fort.

“Give me two rond de jambe (cir­cu­lar move­ments of the leg) and fin­ish with an at­ti­tude; split jump, two pirou­ette turn and fin­ish with a cam­bré,” says David Mwashighadi, the bal­let teacher.

In a bal­let class, the chil­dren start with stretches. Stretch­ing makes their ten­der bodies stronger. They do warm-up ex­er­cises for 10 to 15 min­utes be­cause their young mus­cles must be ready for the dance moves.

‘‘They ex­er­cise their hands, neck, shoul­ders, waist, thighs and toes,” said Mr Mwashighadi who holds hol­i­day classes in Bam­buri, Mom­basa.

Other ex­er­cises are done on the barre (a long handrail you use for bal­ance). This in­volves stretches and splits. Floor work in­volves down­ward fac­ing dog, sit ups, push-ups, and flex point­ing, back straight, pointed toe and swing­ing legs.

Dur­ing hol­i­days

Choice of mu­sic also mat­ters dur­ing the ex­er­cise. Mr Mwashighadi prefers pure piano clas­si­cal play­back mu­sic for his dancers. The mu­sic with high tempo is played dur­ing the warmup ses­sion while the slow tempo rhythm is played for the dancers to get the tech­niques cor­rectly.

Bal­let was mostly taught in pri­vate schools as the chil­dren sup­ple­mented class work with ac­tiv­i­ties such as horse-rid­ing, cello play­ing or dance lessons.

But now bal­let is be­ing taught dur­ing hol­i­days to keep chil­dren busy and away from smart­phones and TVS.

The dance also makes the child alert, help­ing boost con­cen­tra­tion as they de­velop a love for mu­sic and rhythm.

Com­pa­nies such as Dance Cen­tre Kenya of­fer bal­let, tap, jazz, mod­ern, mu­si­cal the­atre and con­tem­po­rary dance lessons. Their bal­let classes at Ki­tisuru Manor, in Nairobi started last Mon­day, tar­get­ing mostly chil­dren on hol­i­day.

Classes such as Mr Mwashighadi’s are fairly priced, reach­ing many chil­dren who could not af­ford pre­vi­ously. For one hour, a child pays from Sh500 to Sh700 de­pend­ing on whether one is join­ing a group class or be­ing taught pri­vately.

He trains about 20 chil­dren ev­ery ses­sion so as to give full at­ten­tion to ev­ery­one. To add fun to the bal­let class, he signs up the chil­dren for com­pe­ti­tions.

“Kenyans still think that bal­let dance is hard be­cause it in­volves stretch­ing and splits while some think it is only for girls, but it is not,’’ the 28-year-old who is a trained dancer says.

He mar­kets him­self through so­cial me­dia and it has paid off.

“I take videos and pic­tures and post them on Face­book, What­sapp and In­sta­gram. Most par­ents have ap­proached me after view­ing the videos and pic­tures,” he said.




CLASS A boy stretches dur­ing a bal­let les­son in Mom­basa.

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