Who doesn’t love Olivia with her Degas-inspired dreams? She’s the prima ballerina many tiny dancers dream of. And then there are the little ones dreaming of free styling in the cypher, popping and locking, dancing to a different rhythm. No hair buns and cute tutus for these kiddos. They’re breaking form with some different moves, and we’ve rounded up some classes to help them do it. From hip hop to jazz, modern to breakdancing, we’ve got the lowdown on the coolest dance classes in the city. Break it down!
If you’ve got a little one who’s BFABB (born from a boom box), or if you feel the need to relive your 80’s breakin’ days with your mini me, head on over to The Beacon in the International District for a little authentic b-girl instruction from Anna Banana Freeze, member of the world-famous Massive Monkees dance crew. This free-form breakdancing/hip-hop class, for tiny dancers ages 2-6, is the perfect introduction to the breakdancing world for any youngster. Whether you drop in on Toddler Tuesday or Soleful Sunday (or any day in between), mini breakers will find a class steeped in the exploration of movement. Bookended by an intro/outro open cypher (where students free form in a circle on the dance floor), each hour-long class gets students moving with stretches, games, imagine movement and real breakin’ moves! (You haven’t lived til you’ve seen a 5-year-old sticking balance moves.) And the way the class is structured it’s easy for anyone to drop in, whether it’s your first class or your 15th. Plan to stay with your kiddo (it’s not a drop-off) and even participate. Admit it, you’ve got some moves you’ve been dying to break out!
Insider Tip: Comfortable clothes and a water bottle are a must, because you and your little will definitely work up a thirst popping, locking and breaking in class!
664 South King Street
Seattle, Wa 98104
Cost: $15 to drop in, $65 for a 5-class punch card or $100 for a 10-class punch card
When: Tuesdays, 10:30 am – 11:30 am and 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm; Saturdays, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm; Sundays, 10:30 am – 11:30 am
eXit SPACE School of Dance
If you’ve got a little one that loves to move, shuttle ‘em over to the eXit SPACE School of Dance for a little hip-hop/jazz or hip-hop/breakdance combo class, and let their skillful instructors channel that love. Working with kids ages 5-7, each teacher and assistant relies on that passion for movement that seems to come pre-programmed in every kiddo, gently guiding them into formal dance techniques. You know, like the way you “trick” them into eating their veggies. After class warm-up and stretching, students work on isolations and dynamic dance moves, relying on improv and repetition, as the wee ones groove through class toward a final short dance product. Little hip-hoppers even learn about bones and muscles (so cool!) as they figure out this crazy thing called movement and how to control it (you always knew they could!). Each class ends with a street style cypher where students cheer and perform and try to build some street cred. It’s all in a day’s work for these little dancers. The end of the season culminates with a 300-seat, sell-out show at the Broadway Performance Hall in Capitol Hill, costumes and all. It’s time to get out there and move!
Good to know: When your little turns that corner to big, they can keep on dancing with individually focused classes in Breakdance, Hip Hop or Jazz for the over 7 crowd.
414 NE 72nd Street
Seattle, Wa 98115
Cost: Preparatory combo classes are $145 per quarter or $551 annually, plus a $25 annual registration fee
When: Classes meet once a week September 9 – June 15
American Dance Institute
Pre-Hip Hop classes at the American Dance Institute in Greenwood break down basic moves into bite-sized pieces for tiny dancers ages 4-6. It’s a place where fun, and games and even animal imagery are all a part of the organic teaching process. Instructors explore movement with their little charges through free style dances, allowing the kidlets to develop their own street style, capitalizing on their uninhibited spirits. Body awareness comes with practice, but students aren’t locked into specific movements that would stifle creativity and expression. After all, street style dancing may rely on some universal moves, but it sure takes lots of personality to perform! Older dancers, ages 7-9, refine their dancing through focused instruction that encourages sophistication and complexity in their creative combinations. And while students have ample opportunities for performance, there’s no big show at the end of the season. Instead, these future hip hoppers perform in-house for peers and around the community, so they can keep learning all season long. It’s all par for the organic course at this north-end studio. Psst… They’ve got hula classes for the young ones too. Think spring break island vacay precursor fun!
Insider Tip: Sign up for a free trial class online or register for a class with no obligation. If your little one isn’t doing backflips after the first class, you’re off the hook.
8001 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, Wa 98103
Cost: $304 for the one-class-per-week session, plus a $25 registration fee for new students
When: Fall session classes meet once a week September 9 – February 2
Gildenfire Dance & Acro
Gildenfire’s Preschool and K-2 Modern Dance & Choreo classes engage students in a no-bounds dance experience based on Anne Green Gilbert’s BrainDance. This “many right ways” atmosphere, created by combining student input with teacher knowledge, appeals to little ones, especially those who are new to dance. It builds their confidence while helping them master modern dance concepts like levels, size and space, using games and playful music. There’s much to love about a song called “Tempo Tantrum,” whether you’re a wee one or her parent! Students create short vignettes of what they’ve learned, and will have three chances to perform throughout the year at Winterfest, Whirligig and a final performance. Casual is key at this studio, whether it comes to taking classes or even practicing. Register for a class with no obligation. Come on the first day to see if it’s a fit with your little dancer. And with only 5 minutes of practice requested each week, we’re sure your kiddos will be begging you for more practice time!
Good to know: The studio waiting room area is a double bonus, too. Not only do you get to watch your tiny dancer take off, but she can see you too, just in case. No tearful drop-offs here. Just a passion for teaching a love of dance, along with some self-esteem, to aspiring dancers.
10011 13th Avenue SW
Seattle, Wa 98146
Cost: $84 for the Fall Session, plus a one-time $20 registration fee
When: Fall classes meet weekly from September 9 – October 25
Kids Dance Seattle
Rhythm is key in the Kids Dance Seattle classes held at the Salsa Con Todo Studios in Freemont. Started because salsa-loving parents wanted to share that love with their mini me’s, these Afro-Cuban-based creative dance classes inspire tiny dancers with a passion for Latin dance. Each hour-long class starts with free form dancing, where kidlets learns to let go and feel the rhythms in their bodies. But the learning and inspiration don’t stop there. Discussion about the music, how it’s developed, and its ties to the Latin culture are skillfully weaved into class sessions, too. Both parents and their mini partners will delight in watching demonstrations of these beautiful, rhythmic dances performed in pairs by the teachers. And while the class is intended for little salsa-ers ages 6-10, if you’ve got a wee one keen to the rhythm, call ahead to see if he or she can attend.
Good to know: No fancy outfits required for these classes, but comfortable clothes work best. Parents can watch from the sidelines or join in, if you can’t resist the rhythm of the beat!
Salsa Con Todo Studios
750 North 34th Street
Seattle, Wa 98103
Cost: $20 to drop in, or $98 for the month
When: Tuesday, September 10 and Thursday, September 12 from 4:30-5:30. Then Mondays and Wednesdays starting September 16, from 4:30-5:30.
Where do your kids like to dance their days away? Let us know in a comment below!
Photos thanks to: Ronald Cabang, Sarah Ellen Photography, Tom Taylor, Rina Jordan and Wayne Rutledge