For some kids, the stage has more appeal than a soccer field. The movement of the body is far more interesting than the trajectory of a ball.
“Some kids are more artistically inclined. When you put them on a basketball court or soccer field, they may not perform as well as other kids but they still want to move,” says Derrick Cheong, a hip-hop dance instructor at Pussycat Dance. “Dancing allows a channel for these kids to express themselves and release extra energy.”
In Cheong’s class, with kids aged 10 and up, he warms them up with basic movements like the running man and chest pops, and then teaches them routines that incorporate moves they learn. Although each class builds on the previous one, the routines change each class and allow for spontaneity.
“I teach kids moves that are fun, jumpy and look cool. I want to teach them moves so that when they go dancing they can show off to friends. And give them more vocabulary for their body language to express themselves – that’s what I do,” says Cheong, who used to choreograph and teach dance in Australia.
Pussycat Dance offers hip-hop, ballet, street jazz and lyrical jazz for kids. For students who want a more structured dance approach, they can attend Danz Centre, a dance studio run by Kim Teinscai, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dance in London.
At Teinscai’s studio, kids aged 3 and up can sign up for months-long semesters or more commonly, the year-long course (two classes per week). Students also participate in full-scale productions in March that take inspiration from The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and hip-hop dance movies like Step Up.
“After studying for one term, students learn technique and dance moves. Then we can prepare them for a production that incorporates the hip-hop, jazz, tap and ballet classes,” says Teinscai, who opened the studio five years ago.
Teinscai oversees around 300 students, 80 percent of whom are expats who attend international schools. Serious students have the option of taking a dance exam, based on the UK syllabus from the Royal Academy of Dance, for high school credit or to formally verify their dance level.
Both Cheong and Teinscai have seen greater interest in hip-hop dancing in the past few years, although ballet is still considered the crux of dance study and tap remains popular.
“We have kids who come here because their parents want them to learn musicality and grace, but we also have kids want to learn how to dance and be disciplined,” says Teinscai. “Of course, kids also think it’s a lot of fun and really cool to show their friends.”
He also observes that kids gain more from dancing than just exercise and learning to move gracefully.
“At the beginning, they’re shy and have no idea what they’re doing, but by the end of the term, they’ve learned movements and performed in front of an audience,” says Teinscai. “They have to go through difficulty in their life and that’s something we teach them through dance. Maybe you can’t do something right now, but if you work at it, it’s possible.”
RMB 70-85 per class; for kids ages 3 and up.
Mon-Fri (1-7.30pm), Sat (9am-6pm). 1) 2/F, Children’s Club House, Yosemite Villas, 4 Yuyang Lu (West Gate of ISB), Shunyi District (8041 7745)
朝阳区榆阳路4号优山美地别墅儿童俱乐部2层; 2) 2/F, Club House, East Lake Villa, 35 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District 朝阳区东直门外大街35号,东湖别墅会所2层 www.danzcentre.com
RMB 400 (5 classes), RMB 780 (10 classes)
Sat 1-4pm (classes for ages 9-12). Rm 906, Bldg 3, Jianwai Soho, Chaoyang District (139 1165 6059) 朝阳区建外Soho 3号楼906室
All classes at Danz Centre and Pussycat Dance are taught in English.