Parents

Cultivating Creativity at Home: How to Incorporate Dance at Home

It can be so easy to get sucked into a routine of school, family or work that we sometimes forget to step into the outside world and see the breath of life that stands before us. One of the many beauties of the arts is that it interweaves throughout all aspects of life, and whether or not it’s obvious, it is always there. Creativity is such an important part of being human, it allows us to communicate and express ourselves in a way that is truly authentic.

Aside from engaging in hobbies, sports, tutoring and recreational activities, there should always be time set aside for cultivating creativity. Bringing creativity into the home is great for nurturing young artists and shaping innovative personalities. It also gets us to disconnect from social media, and connect to the people in front of us, bringing life into our humble abodes. We are sharing some of our favourite ways of bringing dance and the arts into your home.

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 It can be hard to juggle textbook subjects while pursuing creative activities and the arts. Even though most school curriculums do incorporate the arts, there’s no reason that we can’t make homework more flavourful. Why not create a dance routine, some doodling illustrations, a beat boxin’ rap, or a song as a study tool. Spend a weekend afternoon personalising a journal or a notebook with some sharpie markers and stickers. Language courses with novels and storybooks provide the perfect scripts for creating an at home theatre play or a living room dance production. For those busy bees studying the day away, there are plenty of ways to work hard, play hard, and create art!

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Every young dancer knows what it takes to achieve their dreams of starring on stage, and it requires them to practice at home. There are plenty of opportunities in which parents can let their children become the teacher. Turn the living room into a dance studio by clearing up some space. One of the best ways to fully understand the physicality and artistry of dance is by allowing your young dancers to teach you what they’ve learned. Whether these young dancers are teaching their siblings, parents, or grandparents, there is so much we can learn from one another simply through our body language.

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 Living in the age of technology and with access to instant communication through our mobile phones, there are so many ways to get creative. The cameras on our mobile phones are a simple and quick way to capture the intersection of life and art. Children can create a storyboard of a music video or a fairytale dance video, and then recruit their friends and siblings as their film crew. Build a team of actors, dancers, videographers, and directors, but don’t forget to pick a location, costumes, and music. There are lots of choices when it comes to easy and accessible film editing software such as iMovie. Once the film is ready for the big screen (or the medium sized at-home screen), roll out the red carpet as these Oscar winners in-the-making premiere their masterpiece. Don’t forget that these creative projects will also build the beginnings of an artist’s most treasured memories.

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Family game night is all about creativity, not to mention it’s a great way to bring the family together and enjoy each other’s company. Drop by your local game shop and pick up a couple of board games. You can also check out our list of fun dance games in our article, Family Game Night: Dance Edition.

Creativity is infinite, and remember that your options for bringing a spark of innovation and artistry into the house are endless.

Photo Credits: Nuno Alberto, Rachel, IIONA VIRGIN, Tanaphong Toochinda, and Robert Collins on Unsplash

Discipline and Dance: The Ultimate Guide to Dance Etiquette

If there’s one thing about dance that my parents are ever grateful for, it’s the values of discipline, determination and hard work that dance has instilled in me. To many, the word ‘etiquette’ may sound daunting or pretentious, but this isn’t about identifying the salad fork or lifting your pinky when you drink…oops I meant sip your tea. In fact, dance etiquette comes down to the basic foundations of functioning in the real world, especially when it comes to understanding working culture and effective communication.

 

Rise and Shine! Be on Time!

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 The first rule of dance etiquette is to be on time, and by that I mean be at least 10 -15 minutes early at the studio so that you have time to warm-up your body. This allows you to prepare your mind and body to focus and move beyond your limits. Tardiness is never tolerated in the studio or on the stage, so be sure that time is on your side. It may seem annoying to have to wake up at 6:00am every day to get to your morning dance class, but it’s a routine that will set you up for the demands of the real world.

 

In a Manner of Speaking

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Prince Charming was onto something, because the art of charm can take you far in life. It goes without saying that it is important to use your manners in addressing and communicating with your teachers and peers in dance class. Dance examinations are the ultimate test to whether you’ve been practicing your curtsies, greetings and manners. As old school as it may seem, it’s all about reciprocating respect. Sing it Aretha! Eh-hem! Oh right…Sing it Mrs. Franklin! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

 

The Studio is Your Second Home

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A dance studio is like every flawless MUJI inspired home…shoes off at the front door! Dance studio floors can put a dent in the bank accounts, so don’t dent the studio floors with your stilettos. Dance styles that require footwear like ballroom, tap, or hip hop either have floors that can handle the impact or they require you to bring ‘indoor only’ dance shoes. So play by the rules and keep those studio floors flawless!

 

Come Prepared

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Make sure you pack your bag with all your necessary dance accessories, and if you’re a ‘Forgetful Freddy’, then make a list or set a reminder on your phone. Dance teachers are not too fond of students who forget their dance slippers or tights. “My dog ate my wrap skirt” will not work here. At a certain point, every dancer is responsible for themselves, from doing their own buns, to packing their own bags, or getting to class on their own. Dance instils team work in a dance routine, but it’s all about responsibility and independence when you are managing your own dance career.

 

Dance Because You Love To

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The last and final rule is to dance because you love to. The only way to be successful at dancing is to enjoy it. If you master this first, all the rules, etiquette, hard work and determination will fall into place naturally.


Photo Credits: Beto Franklin from Pexels, The Center Berlin, and The Dancewear Centre

 

Loving Your Body: The Key to Enjoying Dance

Times are changing, and we as a dance society are slowly but surely moving away from the idea that the body is simply just a frame, and instead we are beginning to see the body as a whole. From the inside of our body which fuels, moves and supports us, to the outside of our body which allows us to express ourselves, while discovering and exploring all that life has to offer!

Loving the body, and treating it with kindness is the key to fully experiencing the joys of dance, as well as discovering the full capacity of your dance abilities. Knowing how to take care of your body is all about truly listening to yourself and your needs, from physical training to rest and nutrition!


Physical Training

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Remember that we all have uniquely different bodies, even if we can be somewhat “categorised”, our bodies are still entirely different from one another. Which is why it is important to give yourself the time to try out different dance styles and supplemental forms of physical training that allow you to reap the most benefits. Common forms of supplemental training that dancers turn to include Pilates, Yoga, Cross-Fit, Running, and Swimming. But have you ever thought about taking up Muay Thai Boxing, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Ice Skating, Rock Climbing, or maybe even joining a Trampoline Dodgeball team? By training the body through different types of physical activity, we are setting up the body to be more versatile in dance. We expose the body to unfamiliar movement patterns, rewire our muscle memory, and even target muscle groups that have never been touched! So instead of hitting the gym next time, think about trying a new form of physical training, and who knows you might surprise yourself!

Rest

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With all that talk on the importance of physical training, we sometimes forget that we need to let our bodies rest. Once again, the definition of rest can vary from person to person. Some of us need to let our bodies completely rest by avoiding all forms of physical activity. While others, may define ‘rest’ as being gently mobile throughout the day, doing light stretching or mobility sequences. It is important to know when to rest the body, to avoid overuse injuries. Dancers tend to need that extra rest reminder, as their determination to train and ‘push through’ is one that sometimes causes serious injuries overtime. Resting the body is the first step, but resting the mind also allows dancers to refresh and rejuvenate their ability to pick up choreography or combat those performance nerves.

Nutrition

It goes without saying that our daily diets are never one in the same. We all have different food preferences, tastes, and dietary restrictions. Of course, there are plenty of books, experts, television shows and articles that provide recommendations for a healthy diet. But as dancers, it is important to listen to your body. How does your body respond or react to different types of foods? How often do you need to fuel your body so that you can grand jeté all day? Ideally as dancers, we want to aim for foods that energize us, provide our body with nutrients so that we can use both our brains and our bodies, and of course food that tastes good! Don’t forget to bring your water bottle to class, because staying hydrated allows you to spin, leap and glide for hours on end. One reason why we dance is because it is part of the many joys of life, which is the same reason we love food too! For all the dance foodies out there, be sure to check our Dancers’ Cookbook page!

Give yourself the biggest hug and learn how to find the right balance of training, resting and fuelling your body. Everybody deserves a little TLC! So be patient and take the time to respect the beauty of your uniqueness and individuality. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to treat myself to some dark chocolate, a couple of minutes of shavasana, and maybe even try out tree trekking!

Photo Credits: Dancewear Centre, and Bruce Mars from Pexels

 

Dancers' Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons

Dancers’ Cookbook - Moonwalk with Macarons: Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with MacaMOONS!


About the Dancers’ Cookbook

From heaps of leaps to bunches of munches, Hong Kong Dance Moms knows that there are plenty of dance foodies out there! That is why we are super excited to add this delectable page to our online dance magazine. The Dancers’ Cookbook is all about enlivening your taste buds and inspiring you to challenge your creativity. Covering mouth watering topics such as recipes, health & wellness, and food & beverage, we’re serving up some fantastic stories right to your screen!

Grab your aprons, because we’ve baked up a delicious story about macarons to kick off the Dancers’ Cookbook series!

Creativity is a bridge between the performing arts and the culinary arts. As dancers we may know how to tap our toes in the studio, but do we also know how to dabble our toes in the kitchen?

Seeking some new creative inspiration for all our dance fanatics out there, we went for a classic MJ moonwalk with macarons! And with the Mid-Autumn Festival just around the corner, we were introduced to a new spin on traditional Chinese Mooncakes. Something lighter and not too sweet, we found just the right treat to curb our holiday cravings. For all the sweet-tooths out there, Hong Kong Dance Moms sat down with Anita Caswell Ng, the founder of Little Miss Macarons for an an exclusive interview! Sharing her creative process on her mooncake alternative, the MacaMOONS, and giving us some tips on baking and exploring our creativity from the kitchen to the stage! 

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Escaping the humidity and rain of Hong Kong’s city streets, Hong Kong Dance Moms visited Little Miss Macarons and their beautifully vibrant kitchen. Anita welcomed us with a warm smile and exuberant energy! Before our interview, Anita surprised us with a macaron baking lesson! Though this may have not been a starring role as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, it came pretty close.

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The basic ingredients to make macarons are almond flour, sugar and egg whites. Don’t be deceived by the minimal amount of ingredients, because macarons take extreme care, practice, trial & error, patience, and steady hands to master. Just as a prima ballerina can make 32 fouettés look easy, Anita made it look easy to bake 32 macarons. As Hong Kong Dance Moms left our jazz hands at the door and put on our baking gloves, we learned just how challenging (but absolutely fun) it was to make macarons! Though our macarons weren’t perfect, they tasted delicious!

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After dabbling into the baking arts, we sat down with Anita to learn more about her love of macarons and her Mid-Autumn Festival MacaMOONS.

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How did you come up with the idea of making MacaMOONS?

A.C.: I was in the UK with my husband’s family, and for one moment I really missed my family in Hong Kong. And I spoke with my friends in the UK who like the idea of mooncakes, but don’t quite like eating it. I thought…well, I make macarons, can I somehow make them look like moons? So I had this idea two years ago, and last year I thought I should really have a go! Actually my son came up with the name. He said to me “macaroon, mooncake, MacaMOONS”!

 

How do MacaMOONS differ from traditional Chinese Mooncakes?

A.C.: It’s the same idea of bringing the family together, because the MacaMOONS are very big so you have to cut and share them. But the difference is that it’s more dynamic! We got a traditional Chinese flavour, we call it “芝麻姜湯圓” or “Ginger & Sesame Tong Yuen (Sweet Dumpling Soup)”.  Which brings the idea of Chinese tradition, as we do have it during Mid-Autumn Festival. We also have some flavours more familiar to the Western world, such as Sea Salt Caramel, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, and Tangy Passionfruit. So it gives people different options during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but it still embraces the idea of creating happy memories with the family together.

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Which MacaMOON flavours would you recommend for those with a lighter taste palette?

A.C.: Definitely Tangy Passionfruit to start with. It’s much lighter and refreshing. The other one is Raspberry Dark Chocolate. And we use real fruit, so you do taste it! We also use less sugar in our fillings compared to most traditional macaron recipes.

 

What was your process in making this dance inspired macaron tower?

A.C.: First of all we had to make the macarons the day before assembling the macaron tower. On the next day we made the cake, and decorated the cake with individually shaped fondant petals to create a tutu-like texture. And then we placed the macarons on the tower. For this particular tower, it took us 6 hours to finish! There is a lot o f love! I love tutus because there are so many details to it. And I wanted to keep it quite simple, as I believe simplicity is beautiful.

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How do you explore your creativity with baking?

A.C.: Just being alert of what is around you! For example, when you go on a holiday, try different types of food to get inspiration. Obviously I was self-taught, so I watched a lot of Youtube videos to see what other people do. Reading a lot of books, and lots of study. Be open minded, sometimes you don’t know until you try it. That’s something I learned over these last few years.

 

How does baking feed into your life as a mother? 

A.C.: The major reason I bake is just because I can do it with my son, as a mom. I would tell all the moms, it doesn’t matter how old their kids are, even if they are 1 or 2 years old you can bake with them. It’s all about the memories. Hopefully I can inspire him, and not necessarily to do baking. As he understands that everything requires hard work.

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How do you balance your passion and your career?

A.C.: Time management. You can always make it work! If you want to do something, you will make it happen.

 

What is your favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory?

A.C.: When I was a kid, I was the eldest of three, and my parents who are local Hong Kong Chinese were great parents but also quite strict. So I was never really allowed to go out on my own. The only day I could take my younger brother and sister to the park and burn some candles and walk around at night, was Mid-Autumn Festival. That was my favourite Mid-Autumn Festival memory.

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What advice do you have for our dancing bakers?

A.C.: If you’ve never baked before and you want to do it, the first thing to try baking is scones! This is how I started my journey in baking. Because it is very easy to bake and easy to make very nicely! I think it is a great thing to start with!

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Baking macarons may very well be the pointe shoes of dance, glamorous on the outside, yet filled with passion, time, patience and practice on the inside. Plus, they are both extremely difficult to master. Whether exploring your creativity in dance or in baking, take some time to try something new! And most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself with a little treat and something sweet!

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The Mid-Autumn Festival is almost here, and to celebrate HKDM has teamed up with Little Miss Macarons to give our readers a chance to WIN a box of the scrumptious locally made macaron set, Macamoons! What’s your most memorable Mid-Autumn Festival memory? Let us know in the comments section of our social media posts on Instagram or Facebook for a chance to win these delicious holiday treats! Click here for more information!



Back to School & Back to the Barre

A List of Dance Schools in Hong Kong

It’s time to go back to school and back to the barre! Most dance studios begin their new school year in September, so now’s the time to get moving and grooving. Wondering where to learn dance in Hong Kong? Not to worry, as Hong Kong Dance Moms has got you covered. To help you find the right fit, we’ve listed nearly 200 dance schools in Hong Kong!

With so many dance schools in Hong Kong, it can be difficult to narrow down your options. Hong Kong Dance Moms has created a directory of all the dance schools in this great big city, which you can visit by clicking here. We’ve categorised the studios under twelve different dance styles, so that you can easily navigate and discover the diversity of Hong Kong’s dance community! 

Want to know a little bit more about each dance style? Read on and find the groove that suits you!

All-Round

The majority of dance studios in Hong Kong offer multiple dance styles and classes to provide students with a one-stop service that allows for more options and versatility in their body training. Primarily offering foundational dance styles such as ballet, jazz and contemporary, these studios may also branch out into hip-hop, urban dance, yoga, pilates, and supplemental strength and flexibility training. Studios like this are important in creating well-rounded dance artists. Plus, it is more convenient for students as they get to learn multiple dance styles under one roof. 


Ballet

Known as one of the foundational forms of dance technique, ballet is great for developing flexibility, strength, agility, and artistry. Ballet is often epitomized as graceful and elegant, but if you ever speak with someone who has learned this highly intense dance form, they will tell you that it is so much more. It trains your body to be dynamic and versatile, adapting your movements from soft and controlled, to sharp, powerful and expansive. On top of all that, ballet requires dancers to be expressive, tapping into their deepest emotions to create presence and communication through their face and body. Ballet can be taught under 3 different training systems; Vaganova (Russian ballet method), Royal Academy of Dance (UK-based), and Cecchetti (Italian-based). There is a lot of cross-over between these three methods, but there are also some variations amongst the movement vocabulary and the execution of dance steps. Ballet does include pointe work, but this is not for the faint of heart, as it is only taught to intermediate dancers who have developed the appropriate strength, stability and agility. Though ballet is known for being a tough, strict and serious dance form, it also has a fun side to it! The challenge is part of the fun, executing new movements and testing the limits of your body and artistry. Plus, you get to play different characters and roles when learning repertoire. Aside from the technical aspect of ballet, the determination, passion and perseverance required to master this art form is also what provides a great starting point in your dance training. 


Jazz

Showcasing sharp, slick and stylish movements, Jazz is all about technique, flair, finesse and sass. Though it shares some similar foundational dance vocabulary with ballet, Jazz dance is a more showy and commercial style of dance that is performed to upbeat music such as pop, rock, or jazz. Great for boosting your confidence and elevating your dance tricks, jazz dance brings you out of your box. Don’t get me wrong, Jazz dance still requires a lot of hard work, skill and discipline, but it also allows you to dance to your favourite tunes while feeling the glitz and glam of the spotlight.


Hip Hop & Urban Dance

With its roots in America, Hip Hop and Urban Dance branches out to so many different dance forms such as breaking, popping & locking, waacking, jazz funk, boogaloo, and the list goes on. Sure it may look “cool”, but it goes beyond superficial aesthetics, and into a deeper understanding of dance, culture and identity. Hip Hop is about finding your groove, your style, your voice and putting a mark on it. While you still learn foundational movements, Hip Hop embraces the distinctiveness of your mannerisms and natural movement qualities. Rather than trying to look like everyone else, hip hop challenges you to create your own style and image. Not to mention, it is great for training your strength, memory, agility, attitude and body isolations. 


Chinese Dance

In the heart of Hong Kong, lies a rich bounty of heritage, art and culture. While preserving important art forms and traditions, Chinese Dance also keeps up with the times and incorporates modern day elements and aesthetics. With a wide range of Chinese Dance styles that originate from different regions in China, there are so many different styles within this form that test a dancer’s versatility and adaptability. Known for its strict training regimen and disciplinary studio environment, Chinese Dance is also a very vibrant and dynamic dance form, as it has many dances with props such as hand fans, handkerchiefs, swords, lanterns, and much more!


Tap

Tap dance is the meeting point of rhythm, musicality, and movement. Learn complex rhythms and footwork that test the coordination of your mind and body. Heavily used in Musical Theatre, Tap dance is all about feeling the beat and being one with the rhythm. 


Rhythmic Gymnastics & Acrobatics

The first word that comes to mind is flexibility. However, strength, dynamics and agility are just as important in rhythmic gymnastics and acrobatics. Dance training itself cannot always develop the strength and flexibility that is required of an elite dancer. Therefore, many dancers also learn gymnastics and acrobatics in their early training to create a stronger foundation for their dance technique.


Latin & Ballroom Dance

Unlike most dance styles, Latin & Ballroom Dance introduces students to partnering work from day one. Dancing with a partner requires deep listening and an understanding of trust and support. Both parties in a couple must carry the weight and work impeccably as a team. Latin and Ballroom Dance feature both classical and upbeat dance styles. The fierceness of a Latin dancer is incomparable, and the poise of a ballroom dancer is utterly breathtaking. 


Learning Centres & Creative Dance

Catered towards preschool children and early childhood learning & development, learning centres offer students the basic foundations of academics, creativity and the arts. Various learning centres will offer creative dance classes for preschool children to introduce them to movement, music and imagination. The dance styles taught at learning centres emphasize learning development and growth rather than focusing on strong dance technique.


Flamenco

Fierce and fiery is this highly musical and intense dance form originating from Spain. Build strength in your rhythm, and power in your body with flamenco dance as you stomp and clap to create your own intricate and complex rhythms. 


Bollywood & Belly Dance

Ain’t no party like a bollywood party! Take a trip to India with the energetic and lively movements and music of Bollywood. You can’t help but smile when dancing Bollywood, it provides fun movement for the soul. Move towards the Middle East and discover the suppleness and fluidity of Belly dancing. A true test of isolation and controlling the body, Belly dance will have you moving seamlessly.


Irish Dance

Riverdance your way to stardom with Irish Dance! Work on your body alignment and posture, and discover some fancy footwork as your dabble into the world of jigs, reels and hornpipes.

Ready to discover the rhythm of the night (...or day if you’re a morning person)? Check out our Hong Kong Dance Schools Listing!

Photo Credit: Ivandrei Pretorius from Pexels