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Ballet Classes for Kids in Washington DC

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My daughter Elizabeth started taking her ballet classes when she was 4 years old.

We chose the studio based on advice from other families whose children took ballet classes before.

The Ovations Studios came highly recommended and with a great variety of dance classes which kids could take.

I also quickly discovered that this studio was very conveniently located in the Sumner Place shopping center.

This means easy parking and opportunities to use the time wisely while Elizabeth is at her class. For example, I can go grocery shopping at Safeway and get my nails or hair done. I also frequently pick up some food from the nearby restaurants so that I don’t have to cook after class (our favorite one is Gregorio’s Trattoria, which has a great children’s menu, among other things).

Ballet Classes

We loved the Ovations Studios from the first day. When Elizabeth just enrolled in the studio, she was offered the Foundations of Ballet class. This class works for kids aged 4. The program was interesting yet challenging. All kids in the class looked visibly engaged and happy.

Elizabeth before her Foundations of Ballet Class

After COVID pandemic began, we temporarily put the classes on hold.

We returned to Ovations in the early 2022 for the Primary Ballet class. This class works for the kids who are aged 5 (you can find the full schedule of classes at the Ovations website). Each year, kids who continue the ballet program move up to the new class. Elizabeth is now taking Ballet A.

Elizabeth before her Ballet A Class

All the classes are full. It might be hard to get the spot as current students get priority in placement. It’s worth joining a waiting list- sometimes a slot can open up later during the year.

Other than ballet, the studio also offers other types of dances, such a tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and modern. If ballet is not the right choice for your child, you can also try other dances.

Recital

Every year, the kids enrolled in the studio participate in the recital. It’s a big occasion when all the dancers showcase what they learned in the class to their friends and family. In the past, parents were allowed to watch the classes, but this is no longer the case (parents now wait in the lobby). As such, this is a great opportunity to find out what your kiddo has been doing in their class.

Last year, Elizabeth and other girls from her class prepared the Lion and Mouse performance for the recital. Elizabeth played the role of the lion. This year, everyone in Elizabeth’s class played a role of a fox. The studio provides beautiful costumes for all the kids.

The Ovations Studios recital normally takes place at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center in Maryland. Both times we went to the show, the center was full; I suspect all, or most of the tickets, were sold out. Families of dancers get an opportunity to purchase a fixed number of tickets before they are available to everyone. The recording of the performance is later available for watching on Vimeo for those who didn’t make it to the live show (or those who want to see it again!)

The Nutcracker Ballet

If your child is enrolled at the Ovations Studios, they also have an opportunity to participate in the production of the famous Nutcracker ballet. It’s certainly exciting for kids to participate in the real live show. There is always a lot of interest in this offering.

Preparation for the Nutcracker performance is a separate class, and you’d need to be enrolled in the regular ballet class in order to qualify. Older kids have to audition for main roles, while little kids just get assigned their role based on their age/ability.

Should your child participate in the Nutcracker?

From our experience, participation in the Nutcracker requires a real commitment of time and energy, compared to a regular ballet class.

Each participant of the Nutcracker gets assigned two roles, and they usually participate in several scenes. They need to memorize all the movements and their sequence (the studio posts recordings with all the moves and children can practice at home). The rehearsals are often late in the evening and can last one or two hours, and sometimes even longer. The dress rehearsal was from 4 pm till 9 or 10 pm. On the performance day, the child needs to perform in two shows, which is quite exhausting and stressful.

I would only recommend for kids to participate in the Nutcracker production if they are really interested and willing to spend the time practicing (as opposed to trying to please their parents). Otherwise, they can just get enrolled in the regular class and perform at the recital. This is much easier and the child still has a lot of fun.

My daughter Elizabeth participated in the Nutcracker for the first time this year. She was assigned two roles- Reindeer and Polichinelle. She loved participating in the rehearsals and practiced a lot at home. The whole family came to watch her at the Greenberg Theater at the American University.

After the performances are over, the studio hosts a party for all the kids in the cast where they have an opportunity to get each other’s autographs. Elizabeth loved interacting with the “stars” of the show and came back with a poster full of autographs. Apparently, lots of girls got her autographs too!

Elizabeth as Polichinelle in the “Nutcracker” ballet

The Summer Camp

The Ovations Studios offers a summer camp. We enrolled Elizabeth last year and this was a truly great experience. I highly recommend it. Elizabeth stayed for the full day (there is also an option for half day). She learned several dancing routines, got to know other girls in the studio, as well as did some arts and crafts. This camp is perfect for the summer in DC when it’s often too hot to go outside during the day.

The final word

Ballet is a great activity for kids. While the vast majority of girls attending ballet classes will not want to become professional dancers, this class is excellent for teaching them to dance, building their confidence, and developing their love for beauty, music and culture.

This winter we went to watch the Nutcracker ballet performed by professional dancers. Elizabeth was very much engaged throughout the performance and interested in the music and various moves. I’m sure our ballet classes played a big role in that.

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