School of Contemporary Dance Curriculum & Placement
Basic Placement Guidelines
Placement within our Creative Beginnings programs (ages 2-6) is based primarily on age. Our instructors do offer individualized recommendations for new and returning students, but these are suggestions only; we respect parents’ wish to choose the best fit for their children at this early level. Please note that minimum ages for these classes are based on childrens’ ages at the START of the session for which they are registering. At these levels, exceptions to age ranges are unusual and made only at the recommendation of faculty.
Offerings continue for ages 7-18 within a more structured Progressive Level system. Our modern, ballet, and jazz classes fit within this structure, beginning with Pre-level (age 7/8, or 6 by recommendation) and continuing through levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Separate offerings of beginning level classes suit different age ranges, so that a beginner 12 or 15 year old can take class with a group of his or her peers.
Kinetics Collaborative Placement System: Kinetics employs a unique collaborative process to determine placement for students within these leveled classes. All student placement assignments, pre-level through level 5, are conducted jointly among faculty within each discipline and the School Director prior to the start of the Fall season. Because it is vital to build cohesive age/level groups to allow teachers to gear instruction to the highest benefit of every student, the placement system is based on firm assignments and rests on the background and knowledge of our dance educators, nearly all of whom are degree-holding, experienced professionals. Occasionally, student progress requires a mid-year shift. Our placement process is responsive and ongoing, with faculty recommending those shifts as necessary. Each student’s placement is carefully determined on the grounds of ability, experience, maturity, effort, focus, learning style, and technical progression.
In addition to these leveled classes, Kinetics offers a wide array of Specialty Classes. These offerings span a rich and diverse body of dance genres and techniques. Ranging from tap, hip hop and musical theatre, to lyrical, dance composition, improvisation and different forms of ethnic dance, these classes have uniquely assigned age and level requirements and provide our students with broad opportunities to learn and study different forms of dance.
Initial Placement for new students
Whether joining us on an ongoing level or just dropping in, it is important to know where to start! First, remember that Creative Beginnings classes, for children 2yrs – 6yrs, are based primarily on age, and that new students may try or join any class for which he or she meets the age requirement at the start of the session.
For students ages 7+, placements for new students are also initially based on age, with recommendations made by faculty and the School Director after a period of review. Students should begin in the most beginning level age-appropriate class, even when coming to us with prior experience. Generally, instructors use the first one to two classes to observe and determine placement for new students. Students will be given an official placement by the School Director after this brief period. The chart at the bottom of the page outlines our recommendations for new students according to age.
Should you have questions about initial placement, or drop-in classes, or wish to discuss any other placement or scheduling concerns with our School Director, Liz Quiñones, you may always do so by dropping by during School Director hours, emailing Liz at [email protected], or calling the studio, at 410-480-1686.
Our placement philosophies are driven by our wish for every student to feel successful. Proper level placement is integral in allowing for the conveyance of specific techniques and forms, and in minimizing discouragement and frustration. It is a common misunderstanding that level advancement should be a student’s overarching goal. In fact, progression in dance is subtle and ongoing, and requires the body to learn, and often re-learn, specific patterns. This requires focus, structural alignment, body awareness, and muscular strength, all of which our instructors work to develop to support movement concepts. Most students spend 2-3 years at each level, constantly aided by instructor correction and feedback and continually improving. Advancement through dance levels at an accelerated and unwarranted pace not only undermines true technical progress, it can be can be injurious and wearing to dancers’ bodies. While ages and abilities vary within any class, our faculty makes a concerted effort to place students in groups of peers where they will experience the most success, and to teach individuals within these groups. Technical ability, maturity, age, focus during class, attention to correction and other factors are considering in making placement determinations. Students who study more hours a week do often progress at a faster rate than those who study only one or two hours per week. However, this is not always the case, and it is important to note that success is measured in different ways for different students. We respect that each student has different goals and we are devoted to helping them to achieve those goals. At Kinetics, the level placement/advancement process is always ongoing. Students are sometimes recommended to advance mid-year, or to take two classes at separate levels, otherwise known as split-leveling, when we feel the student requires a slower pace to solidify movement patterns, strength, or alignment, but would also benefit from the challenge of an upper level class. Aside from Creative Beginnings classes, all placements are determined through this innovative and responsive process involving instructors and the School Director.
Initial Placements by Age
The classes listed for each age below are open to new students who wish to drop-in or begin classes at Kinetics and typically do not require pre-approval. Look for further placement recommendations based on observation to follow within 1-3 weeks.