Bhangra Baby, Bollywood Baby, Ballet Baby

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Over the past few weeks, The Preschooler and I have participated in three Footwork (Twinkle Toes) workshops as part of da:ns festival 2015. These introductory dance classes are conducted by professional instructors and designed for children 3 to 6 and their caregivers. “Bhangra Baby” with SherePunjab Bhangra, “Bollywood Baby” with BollyBeatz and “Ballet Baby” with Shanti Gomes of Dance Arts (whose class we attended as part of last year’s festival) all took place in Esplanade Rehearsal Studio, a stunning fifth-floor space designed for dance rehearsals and pre-performance warm-up sessions with breathtaking views of Marina Bay.

The Preschooler is rather into dance these days (like parent, like child!), and enjoyed “Bhangra Baby” and “Ballet Baby.” From an early childhood educator’s perspective, however, I found “Ballet Baby” to be the most attune to the physical limits and attention spans of young children, and “Bollywood Baby” to be the least attuned. Gomes is an exceptionally skilled teacher and she introduced key physical elements of ballet, such as first position and demi-plié, in a child-centered and playful way, and used props to to scaffold instruction. All children learned in “Bollywood Baby” was to mimic a choreographic sequence to “Aaj Blue Hai Pani Pani” without learning much about the genre’s disparate influences and elements. All this is symptomatic of the fact that it is only mainstream (read: Western) arts that afforded more respect/resources, even in the early years.

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There are still tickets available for two forthcoming Twinkle Toes workshops, and many for  youth, adult, and senior citizen workshops. I’ll be attending an adult workshop in October; look out a post about my own experiences!