KD Dance celebrates 25 years as a dance school from September 2018. School Principal, Karen Thompson, studied at the London College of Dance and Drama and qualified as a dance teacher in 1992. She excelled at dancing and had opportunities and invitations to perform nationally, but always felt that her calling was to teach and help to develop and instil a love of dancing in young people.
‘Every day is different and I love watching the children improve their technique and grow in confidence. There is a showmanship and performance in dance, which I love to help cultivate, but it’s also about more than that. It’s about health and social skills and seeing each child as an individual,’ she said.
To celebrate 25 years as a dance school owner, Karen has incorporated the business into a limited company, with the new trading name KD Dance. Looking to the future, she has included various new styles into the school’s timetable. These include Acrobatics Arts, which is a foundation programme for AcroDance taught over 12 levels of progression, and Little Bear Feet, which is a fun and creative movement class for children aged 18 months – 3 years, using a nationally recognised programme entitled Melody Bear.
The Little Bear Feet classes, (for which Islandmums members receive 10% off their first term), help parent or carer with their child gain a sympathetic gateway to group activity. It’s suitable for the shy or reluctant child, as well as the more socially confident toddler. Little ones are encouraged to move their body using natural movements, such as walking, running, jumping, hopping and galloping. The class follows an ever-changing adventure to the Land of Nursery Rhymes, using various props and imagery throughout the creative process.
‘I have a particular passion for this age-group. They are so innocent and willing to believe and engage in the make-believe worlds I create for them. We have a different theme every week and use mime and a lot of educational activities like introducing colours and counting,’ said Karen.
The classes are an hour long which includes parents and children having a snack and play at the Capelles Community Centre, where KD Dance is based.
Starting in September is a preschool Acro Dance class (for which Islandmums members get £1 off).
‘I like to try and be very family-focused; I really care about my students and I see part of the benefit of dancing as the friendships that they form, both between the students and the parents,’ said Karen.
Karen feels that one of the strengths of her dance school are the values she promotes – inclusivity and a sense of caring for and about one another. She tries to meet each child where they are and nurture them, ensuring KD Dance is an all-inclusive dance school that offers opportunities to student of all levels and abilities.
The school provides students with the ability to take dance examinations upon reaching the required standard, which is ultimately decided between the parent and child.
‘Dance examinations are a great way for students to focus on their technique, understanding and performance skills and gives them a real sense of achievement,’ says Karen.
Karen encourages students to meet their own potential and values everyone in the dance class. Life skills such as teamwork, dedication, commitment, respect and empathy for one’s peers are taught and promoted at all times.
Also teaching at the school is Luke Smith, who trained as a child from the age of 5 with Karen, gaining examinations through to Advanced level. He then went on to complete his teacher training with DanceTeachers Inc in the UK whilst balancing work life and study. He provides modern, tap and Acrobatic Arts classes and will be introducing some boys-only classes to encourage the less fair sex to get interested in dancing.
KD Dance take students away regularly to perform in top-class venues in London, such as Saddlers Wells Theatre, Her Majesty’s Dominion Theatre and in August 2019, to Disneyland Paris for the second time. They have also qualified and performed at the Dance World Cup on more than one occasion. This year they represented Guernsey once again, with a team of 23 dancers from the school, performing 30 qualifying entries during the finals in Spain.
True to her values, Karen has an inclusive sign up process for groups either performing locally or travelling to perform, so that any member of the dance school can get involved if they are keen to be part of the team.
‘I try to get away a lot to broaden the horizons for my students and help them understand the wider world of dancing better. I’ve had amazing feedback from older students about how formative those trips were and how much they enjoyed them, which is obviously wonderful to hear,’ said Karen.
Islandmums is grateful to Karen for being part of the village that raises our children and for helping them to excel without losing sight of the stories and the individuals behind the technique.