Step It Up Dance has developed an annual syllabus based on the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence that is designed to encourage under-fives to develop listening skills, memory and creative and expressive movement both individually and in groups, all to the sound of artists from Michael Jackson to Mr Scruff.
Owner of Step It Up Dance Niki Hutchison, who founded the company in January 2012, created the urban theme after feedback from children and parents suggested a desire for less conventional music in dance classes.
‘We got so much feedback saying people were sick of hearing nursery rhymes all the time. Hip-hop is so popular with children already, with TV programmes like Got To Dance and Britain’s Got Talent, and the influence of older brothers and sisters.
'It is more like adult music, but we make sure the language is always appropriate and that way we can bring it to a younger audience. The parents love it and the kids love it too.’
The syllabus is split into four ten-week ‘terms’, which focus on different aspects of dance and movement to help children meet the outcomes of the expressive arts and health and wellbeing aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence:
- Term one: Fun and games – focusing on the concept of dance and movement
- Term two: I’m moving up – developing basic moves into something more complex
- Term three: We are team players – working in partners and teams
- Term four: I’m a dancer – creating routines, culminating in a final performance for parents
Participating children will all receive a personalised ‘Moves Manual’ to help them keep track of what they have learned, with a stamp received for every new skill mastered.
Ms Hutchison said her work on research for local government prior to setting up the business, in particular a project on anti-social behaviour, inspired her approach.
'I realised you can set children on a positive path for the rest of their lives by finding them outlets for activity. If you can start good habits at this young age you can help children to live a healthy, happy life, but it can be difficult when opportunities for getting outside are very limited, especially with our Scottish weather!
'So it’s great to find something like this that engages them, and you see in every class how they love to show they know what they’re doing. They can show off, build their confidence and get satisfaction from that, and also find that they enjoy exercise.’
Following taster sessions and trials in settings across Scotland this spring, Ms Hutchison’s team of qualified dance teachers will deliver the hip-hop lessons in nurseries from August.