Helping toddlers separate

As children prepare for preschool and begin to participate in more structured activities, a dance class is a perfect way to help your child to learn to separate from you happily.

The first few days or weeks of any new activity can be quite daunting for young students. Whilst some children jump right in with both feet, many may take a more cautious approach, using their first classes to watch or sometimes participate minimally. Gentle encouragement may help shy or frightened children adjust but most will participate when they are ready because they don’t want to miss out on the fun.

Young children, when feeling insecure may insist (through body language, tears or words) that they feel safer with the parent in the room. It may be hard for you to resist prolonging or avoiding your departure to comfort your child or avoid tantrums. Often, the ‘goodbye’ is the hardest part for both parents and child, however, many children who cry and become distressed when a parent leaves quickly recover once the class has begun.

I have often found that children in dance class have a tough time concentrating and fully engaging in class when parents are present. Children sometimes become shy in the presence of unfamiliar faces and it is a rare child that can resist either running back and forth between class and their own parent or acting-up before an attentive audience.

As a teacher who is also a mother, I feel strongly that parents have a right to observe classes. However, we schedule times throughout the year for this purpose, which allows all concerned to prepare the children for this special event so that they can be attentive and productive in class while you quietly view from the sidelines.

Here are some tips that might help you, help us, and establish a good routine for our classes:

  1. Play games. Hide and seek helps toddlers learn and about separation if a fun and non-threatening manner.
  2. Never sneak away. Always tell the child when you are going and when you will be back. Our studios have large clocks hanging on the walls. You can show them where the big hand will be when you will return. Make sure your timepiece is the same as ours and return punctually as promised.
  3. Prepare the children for your departure. Explain to them ahead of time what will happen so that they will know what to expect. We often have older students dancing concurrently in one of our other studios, so you can show them that parents don’t stay and watch the classes.
  4. Our teachers are very consistent so that your children will grow to know them and become familiar with them. They all have up to date Working With Children Checks and First Aid Certificates. Be confident that we will look after and love your child and do our very best for them. Be calm and don’t add to their anxiety. If you are unsure, your child will pick up on it and not feel confident either.
  5. Talk to them about their teacher and what will happen during the week and remind them of the fun they had last week. Put music on at home and encourage them to dance for you.
  6. When it’s time to leave, don’t prolong it. Children may cry a few minutes, but usually, as soon as you are gone they are over it. Stay close by outside and we will come and get you if they do not settle.

    Thank you for choosing us to show your child the joy of dance.


Are you sick of being restricted, neglected and then expected to endure regardless? What about being dragged, stomped and kicked on a daily basis?

The average person takes about 5210 –7192 steps per day, according to a study done by Dr Catrine Tudor-Locke in 2004. The feet make up the foundation that enables us to stand, walk, run and dance and yet are one of the most neglected parts of our body. They are one of the primary shock absorbers in the body and because they are parallel to earth also take a large punishment from our arch nemesis – GRAVITY! 25% of the bones of your body are in your feet and the muscles that support the shape and function of the feet are related to adrenal glands and bladder. Problems with the feet can cause mechanical problems right through the body including the hip and knee but can refer right up to the neck, causing a headache! Worse still, they can really affect your ability to dance well!

As well as making sure that you are wearing correctly fitting shoes that enable the bones of the feet to articulate in the manner that enables them to be at the most efficient, the following exercises will help to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet. Strong feet enable better balance and control in all your dancing and ensure that nasty problems like plantar fasciitis and shin splints don’t happen to you!

Take your shoes and socks off so you can check your feet the first time. Sit comfortably with good posture. Flare your toes whilst keeping the feet on the floor. Press the toes into the floor aiming to lift the arch of your foot. You should try to keep your toes flat on the floor so that the part of the skin that is between the meaty pad of your toe and the ball of the foot touches the floor and make sure they don’t claw under. Also, aim to bring the ball of your foot closer to your heel, almost like you are trying to shorten your foot. Remember; don’t claw your toes as this can cause further problems.

Provided you can maintain good technique, keeping the toes lengthened whilst lifting the arch, progress by also doing the exercise standing, then standing on one leg, then standing on one leg in turn out.

This exercise will also really help budding ballerinas as it is important that the toes remain lengthened in the point shoe so that they are not standing on the knuckle of their toes but on the tip of toes.

Dance teacher at Brookvale Dance Centre and Pilates expert at Turning Pointe Pilates studio in Dee Why.

Lisa Peresan

Classical Ballet, Jazz & Tap

Certificate IV in Dance Tuition (Classical & Jazz)
Advanced Diploma of Professional Pilates Practice
Diploma of Dance Teaching and Management.
Certificate IV Assessment and Workplace Training
Senior First Aid Certificate

Lisa has had a life long involvement and passion for movement. She was originally trained in the Royal Academy of Dancing syllabus and started her career as a professional dancer in the commercial genre at the age of 18, working in a musical in Spain. Her work as a dancer kept her travelling for seven years in Europe and Asia and included work on television, musicals, product launches, fashion parades, Chesse Rijst Contemporary Dance Company and at the Lido in Paris.

Lisa first became involved with Pilates in the early 90’s when she returned to Australia and became an instructor working in a Pilates studio, and instructed Pilates to people like Paul Mercurio and John Mullins (Senior Lecturer and Program Co-ordinator of the BA/Bed at UNSW). She also taught dance at Sydney’s major dance centres, including Sydney Dance Company studios, Aboriginal Dance Theatre, Sydney University, various high schools, at State Dance Camps and Bodenweisers, and was involved in writing the jazz syllabus for the Australian Dance Assessment Program.

Lisa opened and ran DJAZZEX dance and Pilates on the Northern beaches from 1994 until 2017. In 2005 she applied for and won a scholarship, to become a Certificate IV Pilates Instructor with Pilates International. She completed her Diploma of Professional Pilates Practice in 2008 and her Advance Diploma of Professional Pilates Practice in 2010.  Lisa has completed a conditioning for dance conditioning specialist training and a mentorship program with Karen Clippenger M.S.P.E. Professor at Long Beach University. and has undertaken further training with Paula Baird Colt, conditioning expert with the Australian ballet. 

Lisa is passionate about the benefits of movement for the body and spirit. She believes you can always improve in what you do and will continue to study to improve her knowledge, skills and qualifications as a teacher of Dance and Pilates.  She holds a current first aid Certificate and is VET Accredited to teach Ballet and Jazz to Certificate IV Dance Performance Studies or HSC studies. She is a member of Ausdance, Australian Dance and the Pilates Alliance Australasia.

“I believe you can always improve in what you do and I continue to study to increase my knowledge, skills and qualifications as a teacher of Dance and Pilates”

Darrio Phillips

Street Dance Instructor

Certificate IV youth work
Introduced Street Dance to Australia

Darrio Phillips came to Australia from the United States in 1981 and introduced street and hip hop dance to this country, setting up one of the first street dance schools. This resulted in him becoming famous for his individual performances and with other dancers, groups and choreographers. He is known as ‘The Godfather of Street Dance’ and promotes ‘peace, love and unity in dance’.

As a performer and entertainer in this edgy street dance and music culture, his appeal was naturally with youth who were itching to learn this new and cool culture. As the years have moved forward Darrio’s performance has evolved into teaching and mentoring – particularly focussing on disadvantaged youth.