Creative Movement with Stacy

StacyCreative Movement is a term used to describe dance classes for children in pre-school and kindergarten. These classes normally last for less than an hour, and are geared towards getting young dancers moving in a group. These classes normally include creative activities and visualizations that inspire students to think creatively.  Each teacher adds their own style to creative movement classes, which can range from a relatively unstructured period of creative play to a more structured class where students learn the basics of ballet or other styles of dance. We spoke with Stacy Hancher, the senior dance teacher at Main Line School, about her style of teaching creative movement classes.

Stacy holds a BFA from the University of the Arts and has been a teacher at Main Line School of Dance for almost 10 years. She has quite a few performances under her belt,  dancing with the Chester County Ballet Company, Philly Jazz and The Starlight Tap ensemble. Stacy feels that her true masterpiece is the way she inspires youth of all ages to pursue dance, and the beautifully choreographed and executed recital pieces that Stacy works on each year with her students. Stacy has also taught preschool in the area, and the parents of her creative movement students agree that Stacy’s teaching style is perfectly suited for young children. Stacy places importance on teaching her young students the fundamentals of dance, but is not too strict, providing a perfect balance to keep students excited and having fun while focused and continuing to learn. She offers plenty of personal attention to each student, helping to build self-confidence and awareness in regards to movement.

Stacy explained that a creative movement class is a less formal environment than dance classes for older students, incorporating periods of creative improvisation such as “freeze dance”, where students creatively improvise and are asked to freeze in position every time the music stops, “Creative movement is all about exploring the way your body can move. It also teaches spatial awareness while introducing the basics of technique. The students learn to work together and to use movement as an artistic way to express themselves.” Stacy discussed the difference between Pre-ballet and Creative Movement, terms which are often used interchangeably to indicate dance classes for preschool-aged students. “What I teach is both a creative movement and pre-ballet class. I think creative movement is learning about the way your body moves whereas pre-ballet is more technical. A pure “creative movement” class is mainly playing games and learning about the way your body moves. I combine the creative movement with pre-ballet, and we do some jazz as well.”

It is one of Stacy’s firm beliefs that children of the preschool age are not too young to start on their path to learning, “Children in this age group are like sponges. They absorb everything they hear. I teach technical terms at a young age and they tend to remember.  Some dance teachers teach ballet movements to creative movement classes, but give the movements different names, such as teaching a grand jete but calling it jumping over leaves to make it accessible to young children, but I don’t think that is necessary.  I teach ballet terminology, which will give them an advantage when they move on to more advanced dance classes.”

Besides teaching a majority of the creative movement classes, Stacy also manages the intermediate ballet program at Main Line School, which recently added an introductory Pointe class for older students. Some of Stacy’s previous creative movement students continue to study with her year after year, developing a serious interest in pursuing dance as they move on to more advanced ballet classes.