After 31 years of teaching, Kim Black has mastered how to reach young dancers. Between a studio and private school, she teaches 34 classes per week in Burlington, North Carolina: That's 238 kids from ages 2 to 6 years old. "You have to make them fall in love with dance," says Black. The music, she says, cues this engagement.
Every day, Black witnesses how the simple joy of moving paired with music can light up a young child's face, body and overall mood. "I tell parents to look at the kids when they leave class, not when they show up," says Black, noting the transformation of children, who often arrive for class looking tired. "Happy kids with smiling faces is usually what I see."
Album: Rise and Shine
Song: "Five Little Ducks"
"This is a class favorite. I'll pretend my phone is ringing with a duck sound. I'll answer saying, 'Hello, daddy duck,' and pretend to have a conversation about going fishing. All my 'little ducks' line up behind me (mommy duck) and play out the song. It's an oldie, but definitely a goodie that always brings smiles."
Album: The Classical Child At The Ballet
"I use this music for stretching and skipping, but I also use it to teach my ballerinas about popular ballets. This album covers Coppélia, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Les Sylphides."
Artist: Willy Fisher
Album: Running in a Circle
Song: "Running in a Circle"
"I use this song during the beginning of class to get the wiggles out. It is a wonderful way to work on gross motor skills, such as skipping, hopping and marching."
Artist: Dora the Explorer
Album: Dora The Explorer: Party Favorites
"A lot of children's music for my youngest classes is not upbeat enough for me, but Dora does not disappoint. This album is energetic and fun. I specifically use tracks 2, 13 and 14 for my creative movement classes and for fun in my youngest ballet classes."
Artist: Joan Lather
Album: Ms. Puffie Garden Ballet
Song: "Ballet Seeds"
"Joan Lather has been an inspiration to me since I first took a class from her at a convention 30 years ago. Her music is a teaching tool for teachers, as well as the youngest dancers. Her music has inspired my stories, skits and creativity."