Preparatory Dance & Tap

Age range: 5 to 6 years

Children rising 4 to 5 years years can build on the skills they learned in Nursery dance by moving into our Preparatory classes.  We encourage children to develop a sense of performance and a pleasant quality of movement, and they learn to dance with direction and make formations as a group.  Children start to understand the importance of precision in dance, especially regarding musical timing and when putting two or more movements together.  Stories from famous ballets such as Swan Lake are used to engage the children and structure the classes.  Preparatory classes also include an introduction to tap dancing. Children develop their sense of rhythm, and start to learn the skills and vocabulary they need for their first tap examination.

Your Child’s First Class

When you arrive at the studios for the first time, you will need to press the buzzer on the door and wait for a teacher to answer or to be let in by the office.  Ensure you ask your child’s teacher for the door combination code so that you can let yourself in for the next lesson.  

If you have a buggy/pram with you, you will need to bring a bicycle lock with which to lock it up in the undercover area at the back of the studios, outside.  This is most important as we cannot store buggies/prams inside the building.  If you choose to do this then you can ask the teacher for the back door code to use after leaving your buggy outside.

Uniform items should be obtained within the first half a term of joining the school.  In the meantime your son/daughter can wear any t-shirt, shorts/skirt and bare feet.  It is however, usually a good idea to get one or two items of uniform before the first class so that your child feels a part of the group they will be joining.


The changing rooms, toilets and office are upstairs.  When your child is changed, you will need to wait outside the appropriate studio door until the teacher is ready.  Please ensure your child is changed in plenty of time as there is nothing more unsettling for a child than coming into a new class late.

In order for your child to settle into the class, we usually find it is best if parents/carers do not watch their child’s class; rather that parents/carers wait outside the studio and if there are any settling in issues, the teaching assistant comes out and discusses the best solution with you. If, however, you are very concerned about your child starting a new activity without you present in the studio then we will allow you to watch their first lesson.  Please note; if you miss the first lesson of the term for any reason then we would not permit any parent/carer to watch any other class (aside from the designated annual watching dates). We do not allow parents to watch every lesson as the distraction of a large audience would affect the progress of the children significantly.  However, if a child has any ongoing problems settling into a class we will, of course, liaise with you to find the best solution.

Further Information On Preparatory Dance

The South London Dance Studios lower school dance curriculum develops the child’s natural cognitive and physical abilities.  It is not possible to sustain a child’s attention for the length of a dance class without using his natural taste for play.  These periods of fun educational games and free expressive movement alternate with times of great physical effort and mental concentration.  The child learns that the reward of play is gained through sustained effort.

Through a carefully balanced combination of effort and play, children work towards the following fundamental aims:

1.Improved Awareness Of Oneself

Initiation into the idea of sides, identifying the right from the left.

Progressive development of coordination of movement through exercises tending to use arms and legs alternatively and then simultaneously.

Learning to utilise the outer motor movements of the fingers, shoulders, knees and feet; especially reinforcing the arches of the foot.

2.Improved Awareness Of Others And Spatial Awareness

Whilst becoming aware that he has a body that he can control, the child must place himself in relation to others and to objects.  Once the child understands that his body occupies a place within space, he will be able to develop a sense of his physical relationship with others.  He will then begin to be able to find a suitable personal space in which to dance.

The child learns to work in a group, or in pairs.  He learns to become part of the group, together with others making up the collective figure of the circle, the square, the line etc.  

The child learns to hold back and be tolerant; sharing and waiting his turn along with a sense of gentle order and discipline.

3.Improved Ability To Listen And Respond

Within the framework of socialisation, emphasis is placed on the attention the child must give to the teacher, and the ways in which he can respond to the teacher’s requests/suggestions.  

The child learns to listen and respond to the music in various ways, as suggested by the teacher.

Through working in pairs, the child learns to respond to the physical actions and verbal communications of his peers.

The child learns the etiquette of the dance class, including thanking the teacher and pianist at the end of the class, and choosing appropriate moments in class to ask the teacher a question.

4.Improved Posture, Balance, Strength, Flexibility And Fitness

Gentle stretching exercises teach the child that his body can be trained, and flexibility can be improved.

Building the abdominal and back muscles, to improve posture of the spinal column.

Strengthening the legs and feet, thus improving elevation.

Combining strengthening and stretching exercises with use of breath and relaxation.

Balancing on two feet and then on one foot using improved posture and strength, assisted by arm lines.

Progressive development of stamina resulting in improved fitness level.

5.Development Of Creativity And Musicality

We like to favour the creativity of the child, through the use of stories, rhymes, props, mimed songs, free dance, improvisation and stories drawn from the child’s imagination.  The child can, in this way, free the body that he has learned to control.

Through use of a wide range of music (including live piano playing) the child learns to respond physically to various styles of music that each suggest different ideas and evoke different emotions.

Through playful exercises using percussion and rhymes, the child discovers and learns to identify various rhythms and time signatures; 2/4, 3/4 etc.  

Knowledge of basic musical conventions related to dance i.e. waiting for the introduction, and counting in 4’s or 3’s.

6.Increased Confidence

The child develops the confidence to make verbal and physical suggestions in class and ask and answer questions.

In time, the child develops the confidence to dance alone in front of his peers and eventually in front of an invited audience.

Through encouragement from the teacher, the child is encouraged in his natural belief that he can attempt new physical movements and succeed.

7.Development Of Language Acquisition

The teacher’s use of stories, rhymes, mimed songs and sayings is extremely helpful in the child’s language acquisition. 

Through the experience of attending Preparatory dance classes your child will be well prepared for his/her next stage of learning dance which is Pre-Primary ballet, Pre-Primary tap and Primary modern.  In these grades, children have the opportunity to take examinations and begin to progress through the ISTD* grades.

*ISTD – Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance 

Class Times

Preparatory Dance & Tap Class Times


Monday 4.30 -5.30 pm Studio 3
Saturday 10.40- 11.40 am Studio 3
Saturday 10.30 – 11.30 am Studio 2
Saturday 11.30 – 12.30 pm Studio 2



Girls Uniform

  • ‘Emilie’ ballet dress by Roch Valley in pink matte nylon lycra 
  • Optional: woolly ballet crossover in light pink (not ‘ballet peach’) 
  • Pink ballet socks
  • Pink leather full-sole ballet shoes with pink elastic  
  • Roch Valley black leather tap shoes with elastic replacing the laces and with standard ball taps – heel taps not required but can be left on if already attached to shoes when bought (Preparatory only)

Uniform notes for girls

  • If your daughter is very cold in the studio, she may wear pink seamless ballet tights – no other tights though please!  We do, however, prefer pink ballet socks.  Children should not wear socks and tights at the same time!
  • Vests and pants should not be worn under the ballet dress
  • Please be careful when washing the pink ballet dress as they ‘pick-up’ colours easily
  • After an initial period of half a term, your child must be wearing correct uniform
  • Long hair should be neatly tied back in a pony tail or classical ballet bun
  • Any hair band should match the leotard and should be kirby gripped on otherwise the band will slide off
  • Any hair elastic should match hair colour  
  • No jewellery allowed (including earrings)
  • Dance shoes should not be worn outdoors
  • Please ensure your child’s name is on each piece of clothing

Boys Uniform

  • White Royal Academy of Dance leotard or plain white vest/tight fitting t-shirt
  • Black shorts
  • Optional – black sweater
  • Short white ballet socks
  • Black leather full-sole ballet shoes with crossed black elastic
  • Boys black leather tap shoes with laces and standard ball taps – heel taps not required but can be left on if already attached to shoes when bought (Preparatory only)

Uniform notes for boys

  • After an initial period of half a term, your child must be wearing correct uniform
  • No jewellery allowed (including earrings)
  • Dance shoes should not be worn outdoors
  • Please ensure your child’s name is on each piece of clothing

Where to get the uniform

Most uniform items and all dance shoes must be purchased from a specialist dance shop.  ‘Duo Dance’ in Herne Hill is the closest – 020 7274 4517.  

‘Dancia’ in Covent Garden and ‘Julienne’ in Beckenham also stock some items of our uniform.


Preparatory dance and tap £124 12 week term

Please note, the following additional fees:

  • Annual membership (Autumn term – all current students) – £10
  • Registration fee (Autumn Term  – new students) – £10
  • Registration fee (Spring Term – new students) – £7
  • Registration fee (Summer Term – new students) – £5