Helpful Ballet Terms

Is your child trying to show you what they learned in class, but can’t quite remember the names of anything? Don’t you worry! This post will explain some of the steps your child might be trying to show you.


First Position – The back of the dancer’s heels together and toes are turned out. This position resembles a “V.”


Second Position – The dancer’s toes are turned out, but instead of heels touching, legs are shoulder-width apart.


Third Position – This position is best achieved by starting in first position. One heel slides to touch the center of the other foot, with toes turned outward.


Fourth Position – This position is best achieved by starting in third position. Whichever foot is touching the center of the other slides forward so it’s heel is diagonal of the toes of the back foot.


Fifth Position – This position is best achieved by starting in fourth position. Slide whichever foot is in the front in towards the other foot so the heel of the front foot is touching the toes of the back foot.


Barre – A long, wooden bar attached to the wall of a dance studio. Dancers hold onto it while performing a warm up.


Plie – Bend both knees. A Demi plie is a small bend of the knees where both heels remain on the floor. A Grand plie is a bigger bend of the knees where both heels come off of the ground.


Saute – Jump! (Don’t forget to make sure the dancer’s toes are pointed.)


Inspiration from:

How to be ready for dance class to start

  1. Get dressed- Our dress code not only provides a clean, uniform look to the class (which eliminates distractions with younger dancers) but also helps the dancers and teachers easily see alignment, and gives the body the ease of movement needed to fully participate in class.
  2. Pack your dance accessories- Such as a sweater, leg warmers, knee pads, and your shoes.
  3. Pack a water bottle- Refillable ones are convenient and environmentally friendly.
  4. Eat- We don’t want you dancing on an empty stomach. Be sure to eat something small and healthy before class. Bring a snack with you if you know you’ll need an energy boost while changing shoes.
  5. Do your hair- Any hairstyle is fine, so long as your hair is out of your face.
  6. Warm up your muscles – Walk, jog, plie, jumping jacks anything goes just get moving!  This will prepare your body for any dance class here at Shooting Star Dance Center.

Dance Movies for a Family Movie Night

Want a fun night in with the family?  Check out our top picks for family dance movies!

  1. An American in Paris
  2. Singing in the Rain
  3. Hairspray
  4. Happy Feet
  5. Mary Poppins

What are some of your favorite dance movies for the family?

10 Great Dance Books for Young Readers


  1. Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton (1 – 4 years old)

“Everybody sing along—because it’s time to do-si-do in the barnyard with a high-spirited animal crew! From Boynton on Board, the bestselling series of board books, here is BARNYARD DANCE, with Sandra Boynton’s twirling pigs, fiddle-playing cows, and other unforgettable animals. Extra-big, extra-fat, and extra-fun, BARNYARD DANCE features lively rhyming text and a die-cut cover that reveals the wacky characters inside. Guaranteed to get kids and adults stomping their feet.”


  1. The Night Before My Dance Recital by Natasha Wing (3 – 5 years old)

“It’s the night before a young girl’s first dance recital. At the dress rehearsal, she and her class go over the steps one last time. What if she messes up? she worries. But the next day, she’s ready to perform. When the class spins left she spins right! Without missing a beat, she keeps on dancing and smiling. The Night Before My Dance Recital celebrates this with humor, warmth, and engaging illustrations by Amy Wummer.”

  1. Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman (3 – 7 years old)

“In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man. Gammell captures all the story’s inherent joie de vivre with color pencil renderings that leap off the pages. Bespectacled, enthusiastic Grandpa clearly exudes the message that you’re only as old as you feel, but the children respond–as will readers–to the nostalgia of the moment. Utterly original.”


  1. Ballerino Nate by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (4 years+)

Nate has the heart of a dancer, and he is determined to learn ballet. Even his older brother, Ben, can’t change his mind with his claims that “boys don’t dance.” Or can he? When Ben tells Nate that he’ll have to wear pink shoes and a dress, Nate becomes awfully worried. And when he’s the only boy in his ballet class, he begins to think that Ben is right: Maybe boys don’t dance.

Exuberant and true-to-childhood, this is a warm and funny story about sibling squabbles, the joy of ballet, and best of all, grabbing hold of your dreams.

  1. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen (4 – 8 years old)

“Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer.”


  1. Brontoria by James Howe (4 – 8 years old)

“Brontorina has a dream. She wants to dance. But Brontorina is rather large — too large to fit in Madame Lucille’s dance studio. Brontorina does not have the right shoes, and everyone knows you can’t dance without the proper footwear. Still, Brontorina knows, deep in her heart, that she is meant to be a ballerina. James Howe introduces a lovable dinosaur whose size is outmatched only by her determination, and whose talent is outmatched only by her charm. Accompanied by Randy Cecil’s beguiling illustrations, here is an irresistible story that proves that no problem is too big when the heart and imagination know no bounds.”


  1. A Dictionary of Dance by Liz Murphy (4 – 8 years old)

“Dance is not just an art, it’s a whole different language! In A Dictionary of Dance, readers will learn about arabesques, break dancing, choreographers, and the zones of the body — everything that comes together to make a dance, whether it’s ballet or the polka. Liz Murphy’s dynamic and expressive artwork is sure to inspire readers of all ages to get up and dance!”


  1. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland (8 – 12 years old)

As the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has been breaking down all kinds of barriers in the world of dance. But when she first started dancing—at the late age of thirteen—no one would have guessed the shy, underprivileged girl would one day make history in her field. Her road to excellence was not easy—a chaotic home life, with several siblings and a single mother, was a stark contrast to the control and comfort she found on stage. And when her home life and incredible dance promise begin to clash, Misty had to learn to stand up for herself and navigate a complex relationship with her mother, while pursuing her ballet dreams.


  1. Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller by Alan Govenar (9 – 12 years old)

“In this invigorating, humorous, and thought-provoking oral autobiography, Alan Govenar captures the sound and spirit of Norma Miller’s voice as she recalls her early years and coming of age as a determined young dancer during the heyday of swing. Augmenting her lively narrative are Martin French’s jazzy, singlecolor illustrations, evoking the vibrant style of vintage poster art.”


  1. A Young Dancer: The Life of an Aiely Student by Valerie Gladstone (10 – 14 years old)

“Meet Iman Bright, a thirteen-year-old student at the prestigious Ailey School in New York City. Iman is passionate about dance, but she also enjoys drawing, playing music, and of course, hanging out with her friends. Follow Iman as she warms up at the barre, practices violin, and gets ready for a performance with her fellow students.

In descriptive words and striking photographs, this informative picture book provides fascinating insight into the world of dance through the voice of one very talented young performer.”

A brief history of ballet

Ballet, as you might guess, has a long and storied history—which we’re going to get into here!

We’ll start during the Renaissance era in the 1500s, when the Italian Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France. It was because of this marriage that we have the early forms of ballet. You see, ballet comes from the Italian word ballare, which means “to dance” (it’s also where we get the word “ball,” as in what Cinderella went to). When de Medici married the king, she was responsible for introducing various early dance styles to the French court.

While the ballet back then was not what you think of now—dancers wore masks and clothes that were hard to move around in—these dancers and dances laid the groundwork for ballet today. Over the next century, ballet continued to evolve as it spread from the courts of France and Italy to other places, such as Russia. In France, King Louis XIV was the most influential person in helping ballet develop. He ot only funded and encouraged the dance style, but also sometimes even participated himself. In this time, too, the dance movements, clothing, and musical accompaniment continued to grow and evolve as well.

King Louis XIV in Ballet de la nuit, 1653.

(Image credit:
By the mid-1800s, Russia was scene as one of the epicenters of dance evolution, especially ballet. Dancing en pointe was more than just a fad and the outfits that dancers wore had evolved into styles much closer to what we see today. In the 1900s, with ballet’s popularity soaring, now-classic ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker were created and produced to eager audiences around the world.


Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova
(Image credit:
After Russia, the next big development came in the form of the founding of the New York City Ballet in 1948 by Russian George Balanchine. The NYCB, as well as other ballets all around the world have continued to grow and development the dance style, and that is where we’re at today!

Monday Motivation

It’s Monday, and while you may feel a little sluggish getting back into the rhythm, we’ve got some clips of one of the most amazing dancers in the world, Misty Copeland, to get you motivated to get your dance shoes back on and get back out there.

We at SSDC love Misty Copeland, everything she’s done, and we cannot wait to see everything else she’s going to accomplish in her career! She’s a testament to setting goals and achieving them and we love her for that.

Need more Misty? Check out this amazing performance.

Top 4 Reasons to Stretch Before Dancing

You’ve probably heard before that you need to stretch before engaging in any kind of physical activity—whether it’s a tap combination or running a marathon—but did you know why you need to stretch? Check out these four reasons and get ready to touch your toes next time before you put your dance shoes on.
1. Increases range of motion – With dance, you’re going to be moving around a lot and sometimes you’ll need to move your body in ways that cold muscles aren’t really willing to do. Stretching will help warm your body up and prepare it for a wider range of motion.

2. May help reduce risk of injury – Like our point above, warming up your body with stretches before you dance is helpful in reducing the risk of injury. Ever pulled a muscle? It hurts! By stretching, you can prepare your muscles to move more rapidly and fluidly, which in turn will help decrease the chances you will pull or injure one.

3. Improves posture – Posture isn’t just important when you’re sitting at a fancy dinner with your parents’ friends, it’s also super important while dancing. Stretching before you dance will help the muscles in your lower back, chest, and shoulders maintain better posture, which in turn will help you while dancing.

4. Improves mechanical efficiency – No, you’re not going to turn into a robot by stretching. Mechanical efficiency is the amount of energy your body needs to perform tasks (like a tap routine, etc). Increasing your mechanical efficiency through stretching means that you’ll use less energy while you dance, increasing the amount of time that you can!

Instagram Pages we <3

Are you on Instagram?  These pages are a must to follow!  Everything from ballet to tap to jazz and acrobatics.  Pictures, tips and videos to watch and help improve your child’s dancing when they aren’t in class.  I’ll give you my top 5 and stay tuned for more suggestions in a later post.

  1. @homerhansbryant – wonderful classical ballet videos as well as a fusion of ballet and hip hop.
  2. @Blochdanceusa – I love their mid day motivations with fabulous pictures of current ballet stars
  3. @browngirlsdoballet – really lifiting up our younger dancers while encouraging diversity in dance.
  4. @Therealdebbieallendanceacademy – fantastic inspiring quotes posted daily
  5. @SHOOTINGSTARDANCECENTER – Us of course! We do repost from many other feeds as well as our own content to uplift, inspire and encourage your to work harder in your classes and push yourself to be your best!

3 Ways to increase your child’s confidence

Download this list here

We all want to raise a confident child do we not?  We all want the best for our children and that means raising them to be happy and self-assured.  While we are not experts, we would like you to consider these three tips that we employ in our classes to help increase your child’s confidence.


  • Concentrate on the good – Children (and adults!) make mistakes.  Instead of dwelling on what went wrong help your child work through the problem and find a way to solve it.  Guiding them to make their own choices builds sureness in their decision making skills.  Which leads into…


  • Don’t save your child – Sometimes we need to take a step back and let them stumble for them to figure out how to find their way.  It can be the hardest thing for a parent to do but the sense of accomplishment they will feel in solving the problem themselves helps to build feelings of self-worth, competence and assurance that they can figure things out on their own.


  • Stick with what they start – Whether it is problem solving or learning a new skill encourage your child to see it through until the end. It may be figuring out a tough math problem or finishing out the season of a sport, but learning that completion is an integral part of the puzzle and following through again gives them a sense of achievement.


What do you think?  Do you have any tips you would like to share?

Download this list here

What to pack in your dance bag


Sometimes when we start a new activity we have a hard time knowing where to ….start.

A good place to start for all dancers is in what they are bringing to class with them in their dance bag.  Here is a handy list of the essentials.

For a younger student:

  • All shoes needed for class.  These shoes should be labeled with the child’s initials on the bottom in the event they are left behind or mixed up.
  • Legwarmers and dance sweater in the colder weather.

Older students should also include:

  • Hair ties to keep their hair tied back.
  • A water bottle for in between classes and a small snack if they are going to be at the studio for more than 90 minutes.
  • Bandages for the random blister and shoe that rubs the wrong way.

And of course everyone should bring their smile!

Want a copy of this list? Download this as a PDF