#entertainingathome: The Ark is running free online dance workshops for kids and it's honestly one of the best early life skills you can teach them
Dance has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
From the ages of four to 24 I went to stage school where I learned the fundamentals of tap, jazz and ballet. In later years I tried hip-hop, ballroom and salsa. Even though I never showed any real talent for any of those disciplines, I really, really loved to dance.
I loved leaping about and losing myself in the music – and I drove my family to distraction by constantly practicing steps and spins on the kitchen tiles.
When work came along, I let dance classes fall by the wayside, but I still loved nothing more than hitting the dancefloor with my friends on a Saturday night and staying there til the wee hours. I never needed a drink to give me the courage to dance – in fact, I was 25 before I had my first sip of alcohol, something I attribute largely to the energy and confidence that dancing gave me.
A couple of years ago I discovered an adult tap dancing class near to my home, and now you can find me and my mum tapping away together on a Tuesday night. It's mindful and joyful – with a bit of exercise thrown in to boot. In short, I can't say enough about the benefits of dancing, and of teaching your little ones the sheer joy of shaking what they've got to the music, before they get old enough to be self-conscious about it.
To help you get started, you can join in with some interactive dance workshops being hosted by The Ark and CoisCéim Dance Theatre. On Wednesday, April, Dance Your Own Dance will be broadcast through Zoom.
At 11am, children aged 5-6 can join choreographer Philippa Donnellan for what organisers describe as a "colourful, themed dance story workshop at home". There will be a second workshop, for children aged 7-8 at 12.30pm.
The workshops will be based on CoisCéim's production of The Wolf & Peter by David Bolger. Those taking part will explore how Peter dances as he goes into the forest, and then become the scary Wolf – who, it turns out, is a super cool street dancer.
As part of its Ark @ Home series, The Ark will also be helping children to celebrate International Dance Day on Wednesday April 29. For more details, check out its website.