Dance lessons in Bahrain

We check out the ballet and hip hop dance classed at the Victoria Dance Studio Discuss this article

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Seeing tiny girls arrive in their little tutu skirts, tiaras and with their hair in a tight buns, I wonder if there is a Disney baby princess contest nearby. But at Victoria Dance Studio in Saar, the dancers start as young as three years old, ‘or even two if they are out of their nappies,’ says owner and teacher Victoria Shaban.

Kids from three to 17 can learn ballet, modern jazz, hip hop, tap and even breakdance steps (among other varied styles) at Victoria Dance Studio, and even perform one annual show and other presentations on demand for events. And if generations ago little girls hurried to ballet dreaming about becoming a prima ballerina, today kids are more tuned in to what is on the movies and TV. ‘It comes in waves,’ says Victoria. Now after Black Swan, everyone wants to do ballet. High School Music was also a biggie, as well as Camp Rock.’

Victoria opened the studio in 2000, after teaching dance in England, but after all this time the challenge remains: how on earth can one make little kids pay attention and learn their first plié? ‘I just do it. You can never stop, you have to keep them moving all the time,’ she explains. ‘We need a lot of energy to teach baby ballet.’

Of course, there are diva fits and the occasional toilet accident, but Victoria simply takes it in her stride. ‘Once a little girl came wearing a huge sombrero and wouldn’t take it off during class, no matter what we did. Another time there was a girl named Rebecca who insisted on being called Rachel. We just have to go with it sometimes,’ she laughs.

Most of the studio’s 200 students are girls, but boys are most welcome, and tend to love the breakdance classes. In fact, one of Victoria’s previous male students left at 16 and now is at the London Studio Centre training to become a professional dancer and truly living his dream.

But even if they don’t plan to dance for a living, all the kids take an annual external exam administered by the UK’s International Dance Teachers Association. ‘It’s great for the kids because it goes on their resume and university applications,’ Victoria explains, ‘but most importantly, it is fun, a nice social activity, and it clears their minds.’

According to Victoria, some students have had their lives changed forever: a 10-year-old boy who used walking frames to get around worked and danced so hard that last year he was able to walk across the stage all by himself. Victoria also remembers the story of a little girl with Down’s Syndrome who ended up in ballet by chance when her mum went to the studio to pick up another kid. ‘Today she is 11 and still dancing. She’s fantastic!’ says Victoria. ‘It’s proof that being on stage gives kids confidence. As long as they get something out of it, I am happy.

Victoria Dance Studio offers ballet, modern jazz, Irish dance, tap, hip hop, contemporary dance, musical theatre and breakdance, and takes tiny dancers from three right up to adult. Classes are Sat-Thu 3pm-7pm. Bodyline Spa, Al Faris Garden, Avenue 35, Saar (39 876 215).

By Time Out Bahrain staff
Time Out Bahrain,

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