About Community Youth Dance Classes at Sweet Briar

Welcome to the Sweet Briar College Community Youth Dance Site

Who can take dance classes in our after school program?

Classes are open to all students, aged 4-17, who live in a county, town, city, or community nearby, within driving distance of Sweet Briar College. http://www.sbc.edu

What is our program about?
Our youth dance classes teach dance on a developmental model. Students learn dance skills appropriate to what children in their age group can and should do. All classes involve the students in movement exploration, dramatic expression, and encourage creativity. Students perform choreography that they have invented (with the help of the teacher) in the end of year recital, held on the Murcheson Lane Auditorium main stage of the Babcock Arts Building.

How is this different?
The emphasis on developing a balance between skill and creativity for students who take the class is unique in the region. The Sweet Briar College undergraduate dance program places a strong emphasis on creativity, and the youth classes continue that goal. The community youth dance class teachers are Sweet Briar College dance majors who have excelled while student teaching in the local public schools. All teachers have extensive training both in technique and in choreography. http://www.sbc.edu/arts/dance

Why approach dance instruction this way?
Dance is an art form. The arts teach both structure and form, as well as content and understanding of ideas. And because dance is expressive as well as sculptural, rhythmic, and disciplined, it teaches empathy toward others at the same time that it creates
self respect in the mover.  Fundamental to human rights is the right to freely express thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Self expression, through choreography that is created and performed by the young students themselves, guided by qualified teachers, is a fundamental right for young people. Rather than simply copy the teacher's movements, the young students have input. That involvement makes them care about what they are dancing. Dance taught this way helps to build up self esteem because the students have the responsibility not only to rehearse and to dance well for a recital, they have ownership of the content and message of their dance! They learn to work with others cooperatively in small groups in class. This approach provides a fun and well organized way of working together that creates flexible and creative minds, strong bodies, and increases respect for self and for others.

How do I register my child?
Each community youth dance class size is capped at 10. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. To register or for more information contact Ella Magruder*, Professor of Dance, at emagruder@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6349.

Photo by Andrew Wilds of To the Winds, performed at Sweet Briar College and at The Hague, The Netherlands at the dance and the Child international Festival
Dancers pictured left & center are from the SBC Community Dance Program and on the right, a SBC dance major & teacher in the SBC after school Community Dance Program

* member of dance and the Child international http://www.daci.org and National Dance Education Organization http://www.ndeo.org