Ballet for Preschoolers

Parent Q&A

  • Ballet class for 3/4 yo in Adams Point?

    (5 replies)


    I am looking for ballet or pre-ballet classes for my daughter turning 4 in October. She was taking ballet in New York before we moved here in March, but here the classes seem to start at 5. She loves ballet specifically and not the generic "movement" classes that I see for kids her age. Anyone know a place in Adams Point in Oakland? Thank you!

    My 3-year old (who also turns 4 in Oct!) goes to East Bay Dance Center on Park Blvd in Oakland. There's also the Tutu School in Alameda and Montclaire.

    Hi there. Here is a list of Dance studios with children’s classes near you.

    My daughter is 3.5 and currently takes ballet at Berkeley Ballet Theatre and we love it. We started at Tutu School Montclair at 18mo old. Tutu School is closer to you, but if you are looking for something more structured, I would suggest skipping Tutu School and checking out Berkeley Ballet Theatre or Van Der Zwaan Studio in Berkeley. Both are great and offer classes starting at 3yrs. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Berkeley City Ballet VS. Berkeley Ballet Theatre

 Sept 2014

I am searching for a reputable ballet school for my 4.5 year old daughter to take classes either after school or on the weekends. She has been asking for it for a long time. She is a student at EBI and I don't think there are any ballet classes in spanish around here (If there are, please let me know!) So,.... I'd love to know what your vote is: Berkeley City Ballet VS. Berkeley Ballet Theatre? Why? mama

I looked at both and went with a third option based on a friend's recommendation, Danse Lumiere: My daughters (4 and 5) are in their second year with Katherine, including summer camp,and I'm very happy. They are doing the Nutcracker this year but you'd better get on the stick and call her bc I think after this week she might not allow any more kids to join! Call! Amy K.

[Editor] also recommended: Berkeley City Ballet and Brasarte World Dance Center

Ballet for 4 year old twins

Feb 2014

My twin son and daughter will be four in June and they seem to be interested in trying out some kind of dance program. I'm interested in hearing about people's experiences with these and other programs-- particularly from families who have tried more than one of them. Many thanks. Debra

Have you considered the Berkeley YMCA for your 4 year olds? We offer a variety of classes for pre-schoolers, including sports, swimming and DANCE!! In fact, we have a free workshop happening the last week of February - and a new session beginning the first week of March. If you aren't a member but would like to try out the YMCA or our youth classes, please contact me for a guest pass. Here are the workshop details: FREE YOUTH DANCE WORKSHOPS Workshops will held in the Youth Movement Studio the last week of February! These fun, drop-in workshops are deigned to introduce your child to dance opportunities at the YMCA. ItÂ’s the perfect way to try out our classes before committing to a full session. If your child enjoys class, a new session begins the first week of March. Check the class schedule for additional Spring Session class times, too.

We tried out various dance studios in the Berkeley area for my 2 daughters. We did not try Berkeley City Ballet, but my favorite , in order from most favorite to least, was Shawl Anderson, Danspace, Berkeley Ballet Theater, and last would be Kathryn Roszack. At Shawl Anderson, they teach a love of movement for little ones. A plus is that for your son, there is a class just for boys taught by a really great teacher as he gets older. I recommend a dance class that is not too rigid for little ones. They can seek out the more rigid aspects of ballet as they get older.

Ballet Class for 7-year-old boy?

Oct 2013

Hi- We are looking for a ballet class for our 7-year-old son. Are there any classes in Albany, El Cerrito, El Sobrante or anywhere else in Contra Costa that have boys in their ballet classes, or better yet, classes for just boys? I have checked the schools I know about in Berkeley without any luck. Thanks for your help balletboy

Try Katie's Dance Studio in El Cerrito. There are several ballet classes during the week, taught by a young man, Kevin, who's excellent with the kids. There are several boys taking ballet, but I'm not sure which classes they're in. Call Katie for more information: 524-1310. Dance Mom

Hi, This is the wrong direction, so maybe it's out of your realm of possibility, but Danspace in Oakland ( has boys in its ballet classes. My daughter is an almost 9 year old who has a boy in her class who has been there for a little while. And if you look at their montage you'll see a few male faces. It's worth a look. We love it there and travel from Alameda to go to class at terrible times of the day traffic-wise because my daughter has had such a good experience. Good luck Claire

Have you checked out Berkeley Ballet Theater? There are several boys enrolled at the school--I don't know their exact ages, but there is a special boys' class in addition to the regular classes with the girls: Edna

This may be too far for you, but Dance/10 in Alameda often has boys in ballet classes ( My son is in the pre-teen ballet class, and there are 3 boys in that class. You could call to check the younger class. They do have boys only classes for tap and jazz / hip hop if your son is interested in either of those. Their studio has been really great for my son who loves to dance. Good luck. Love those dancing boys!

You might speak to Elizabeth Godfrey, the artistic director at Berkeley City Ballet. This is a small nonprofit school and Elizabeth does a good job of organizing the classes around the kids who are there at a given time. Last year there were four boys in about the 8-9 year range and they had a class just for them, and the one that had been there the longest also took some classes with the girls closer to his level. I heard that one boy has since left for SF Ballet and I don't know how classes are working for the remaining three. Good luck! ballet mom

Ballet for almost 3yr old daugther

Sept 2012

Hello parents, Can anyone recommend me a ballet class in the bay area ( Berrkeley. Albany, cerrito, El Sobrante, Pinole ) for my daughter that will be 3 at the end of the year.. Also gymnastics will be nice to try out for her. Any ideas or places you have experienced your children at would be appreciated. thank you! Julie

I highly recommend Kids N Dance with studios in Oakland and Lafayette. I believe that their pre- ballet class starts at 3 but I have seen 2.5 year olds in it. They also offer gymnastics classes, sometimes combined with the pre-ballet class. My daughter has loved all of the classes that she has taken there. Happy dance mom

Berkeley City Ballet at Dwight and Grant has pre-ballet classes on Saturdays for 4- to 7-year-olds (divided into three classes by age). You can see the class descriptions and schedule here: My daughter started in pre-ballet at 7 and is still at BCB today at almost 13. It's a great program with small classes and a very close-knit group of kids. Highly recommended. Teresa

Toddler and me ballet class?

June 2011

I'm looking for a dance/ballet class for our toddler in the Piedmont/Montclair/Rockridge/Grand Lake neighborhoods. She loves ballet and tutus and dancing. In San Francisco, we participated in a mommy and me class at the Tutu School, which she loved. I haven't been able to find something similar to that -- most classes seem to be more tumbling/gymnastics or music oriented. She is almost 3 and wants to do a class with me or daddy and not on her own. Mom of dancing girl

Kids 'N Dance and Theater Arts has Parent & Me dance classes. They are THE BEST! Their phone is 531-4400 and they have a website too. anon

Which Berkeley ballet school for 4-y-o?

Jan 2010

I'm trying to decide whether to start my 4 year-old daughter in ballet classes at Berkeley City Ballet or Berkeley Ballet Theater. I've love opinions on experiences at either school. Thanks Erin

My daughter is finishing her third year at Berkeley Ballet Theater , and we think it's a wonderful school. This is her third ballet school: she started lessons in San Diego, then we tried one school up here that we did not like. (Note: we did not go through pre-ballet at BBT, so this review is based on our experience beginning with Level 3).

BBT takes very good care of their students. At the end of each school year, they have a parent-teacher-student conference, where they discuss the progress your child has made throughout the year, and what he/she needs to work on. The teachers are warm and caring, but also very well trained; my daughter's current teachers performed with the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. In addition to the dance training, she also has the opportunity to learn about related topics, such as anatomy and nutrition.

Beginning with Level 1, the students can all participate in the Nutcracker and the Spring Performance. Pre-ballet students have their own spring show. In addition, older students can sign up for optional performance workshops and modern dance.

I highly recommend BBT to anyone interested in ballet at any level! EH

My daughter who is a senior at BHS has been going to Berkeley City Ballet since she was six and loves it. The teachers are professional and caring. Elizabeth Godfrey, the director, instills a sense of order and discipline into the students while creating a nurturing community of dancers. The kids start participating in the annual performance of the Nutcracker, the highlight of the year, once they reach Ballet 1 as Ginger Snaps and work their way up through the party scenes (mouse, soldier, Clara, Fritz and other party kids.) Then they start dancing in the second act dances, such as Chinese, Arabian, etc. Once they're proficient in pointe shoes, they start dancing in Snow, Flowers, etc. All the dancers have a ton of fun! Several graduates of the school have gone on to dance at professional companies and study dance at conservatory/college levels. My daughter will study classical ballet at Butler U. or U. of Utah, both highly regarded programs. I would recommend BCB to any prospective student! ballet mom

We love the Berkeley City Ballet . Our 7-year old daughter has been going since she was barely 5. Its been a wonderful experience for her and has impacted her taste in music and her self-esteem wonderfully. She really enjoys it. joanna

My 9 year old daughter is in her fourth year of attendance at Berkeley City Ballet . She spent the first three in pre-ballet, where the youngest children explore creative movement and ballet fundamentals. The environment created here is very fun and playful for them while they learn control and comfortability of their bodies. In ballet one and beyond, the program becomes more disciplined and focused with a very safe and healthy approach. I have been impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the director Elizabeth and also love that they are a non-profit school. Though they do not have an adult company, the higher level students are BEAUTIFUL and WELL-TRAINED performers. They also partner with renowned companies in their Nutcracker and Spring performances. Like all good dance schools, the parents do not watch the classes but are able to attend the last class of the semester to observe their child's progress. As a mother with a dance background, I proudly support and recommend this ballet school. Andrea

I spent a lot of time investigating the different ballet schools in the Easy Bay for my 9-year-old daughter and chose Berkeley City Ballet . I viewed classes at the different schools, met with the directors and spoke with the students. I have been thrilled with BCB the program and can't say enough about the combination of world-class instruction and close-knit camaraderie. Unlike many pre-professional ballet programs, these girls work hard but treat each other like family rather than competition.

The school is the perfect size - students get individual attention, parents get to know each other and the standards are very high. The program even offers a month-long summer camp for the pre-professional classes to give them their first experience with ballet intensives. My daughter is loving the program and enjoyed performing in her first BCB Nutcracker over the holidays. I was blown away by the talent of the older students and very impressed with the production staged by artistic director Elizabeth Godfrey.

BCB is a place where I know my daughter will receive top notch training in a positive, supportive environment. I encourage you to explore BCB and see for yourself! jodi

My daughter has been a student at the Berkeley City Ballet for 6 years now and I am very impressed with the training she receives. Before enrolling her, I looked carefully at all our choices in the area--including San Francisco Ballet across the Bay. I am a former ballet dancer and understand the need for discipline and high standards. But I also know that not all ballet studios provide a supportive atmosphere for girls growing into dancers (and teenagers). The director of BCB, Elizabeth Godfrey, has found a way to both give excellent training and nurture a healthy environment. The best showcase for this company is their annual Nutcracker Ballet which is a very professional, well rehearsed production. This year the most advanced girls performed all of the major roles. THey all did an impressive job and it was inspiring for the younger students to see what years of hard work can lead to. Even if a student does not end up as professional dancer, the ballet training will inform their sense of aesthetic, their work ethic, and their confidence in their bodies and strength for the rest of their lives. My daughter, at age 13, goes 5 days a week now (6 during Nutcracker rehearsals!) and she loves it. As her mother, I feel lucky that she has found a passion that requires so much hard work but rewards that will stay with her for a lifetime. Amy

Ballet for 4-y-o, not strict, not loosey goosey

Sept 2009

My 4 year old daughter wants to take ballet but I am getting the impression that the berkeley one is a bit too strict (if she is really into it I can commit more effort but she is only 4) so I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on El Cerrito Ballet Center? Or any other thoughts on a quality experience that is not too strict or too loosey goosey. (KidsnDance seems a bit far away) Thanks

I'm not sure which ''Berkeley one'' you are talking about, but Berkeley City Ballet does not seem too intense or strict to my 4 year old AND it does lead into a serious program later on. Check it out if you haven't. anon

Saturday ballet/movement class for 3-y-o

Aug 2009

My 3-year old girl is ready for ballet/creative movement classes. Problem: I work full time and need to find a Saturday am class, as I am having a hard time finding classes other than those scheduled on weekday afternoons. Any recommendations? Thank you. Desperately Seeking Dance

Not sure where you live, but I can recommend Kids 'n Dance on MacArthur Blvd. in the Laurel District of Oakland. (They also have a Lafayette location.) They have both Saturday and Sunday morning classes: My daughter has been taking the Parent & Me Dance/Movement class for toddlers for almost a year and really loves it. Oakland Mom

I am also a working mother of a 3 year old ballerina and I was so happy to find Kids N Dance on MacArthur in the Laurel neighborhood in Oakland. They have Saturday and Sunday morning classes for 3-4 year olds. My daughter and several of her friends took pre-ballet with Tiffany and loved it. We are all signing up again for the fall session starting in September. Their fall classes are almost full - sign up at Martha Lyman

Try Kids-n-dance in Oakland. They have Saturday morning classes. Carrie

My daughter has loved taking creative movement classes at Danspace in Oakland on Hudson Street. I know they offer classes for 3 1/2 year olds and up. They do offer Saturday classes, but I imagine they fill up fast. The next session is starting in September. Good luck!

Kids n dance in oakland has weekend classes. Have fun!

Ballet class for 3 1/2 year old

Dec 2008

I am interested in hearing from anyone who has experience with the Alameda Ballet Academy. My 3 1/2 year old daughter is interested in continuing with ballet but not through Montclair Rec. If you have any other experience with other ballet classes (strictly ballet - not tap, jazz, etc.), I'd love to hear more about the class - including the Conservatory of Classical Ballet in San Leandro! mom of a ballerina

My daughter completed 12 years of wonderful classes at DANCE ARTS PROJECT in Alameda, on the corner of Chestnut and Encinal. The professional ballet training from the staff is excellent, yet not threatening to one's self esteem. Dance at this studio is very healthy, non-competitive, and beautiful. Girls blossom there and it is heart warming to witness. I endorse their work, fully. Louise A very satisfied parent of a now college girl

If you live in the Montclair area, check out Ballet Arts, located at 4923 Harbord Drive. It's tiny and pretty unassuming, but the director/teacher was once an instructor at SF Ballet and has quite an impressive history. They teach classic ballet in a classic ballet atmosphere, if you know what I mean. For the other end of the spectrum, check out ballet classes at Kids N Dance ( for gently structured instruction that encourages ''creative expression.'' And for classical ballet in a structured-but-accepting environment, I'd recommend Berkeley Ballet. Generally speaking, though, a 3-1/2 year old is not ready for real ballet classes. For that age group, check out the Serendipity class at Danspace, or Modern Dance at Shawl-Anderson, or Creative Movement at Kids N Dance. There are tons of great dance classes for 3 and 4 year olds in the area! Ballerina mom

Ballet class for 3 year old

Nov 2008

I am looking for a recommendation for a ballet class for my daughter who will be 31/2 in January. She has been taking ballet with Ms. Marilyn (Montclair Rec) for over a year now and continues to love it. She is not into what is offered through Kids n'Dance in Oakland so I'd like to hear about other programs around the Oakland area. I'd also like to hear from anyone who has experience with the Conservatory of Classical Ballet in San Leandro. mama of a tiny ballerina

Try Berkeley City Ballet at Grant and Dwight. My daughter has been dancing there for about 10 years, and I can't say enough good things about them. You need to leave your phone number and wait for a call back since they don't have a full-time receptionist, but you can also get information online. It might be a small trek for you to come to Berkeley, but I think it's really worth it. Their yearly Nut Cracker performances are really stellar. This year they will be back at Zellerbach Little Theater. If you can attend the performance, that would be a good way to see what they're capable of doing. yuko

As an ex-professional ballet dancer, I get asked this question a LOT, and I always know that my answer will be disappointing. 3 1/2 years old is way too young for a real ballet class. A lot of questionable studios will give ballet training this young, and often have young students in pointe shoes (''toe shoes'') long before their bones are ready to face this demand, simply because children and moms think it is ''cute'' to be in pointe shoes and tutus. There are excellent ''pre-ballet'' and children's dance classes that give a sense of movement and rhythm without compromising the health of a young body with the demands of turnout, extension, and other high-price ballet tools.

Shawl-Anderson on the Berkeley-Oakland border does an excellent job. Luna Dance is more free-form. Be very careful though, that she goes to an extremely reputable school. Things to look out for: an over-emphasis on ''recitals'' with costumes; encouragement to come in tutus, or pushing for pointe work; making small children take ballet positions with the feet turned out when they cannot hold those positions from the hip.

I know many young women and a few young men who have permanent knee and back damage from incorrect training. Better still would be to do tap, which strengthens joints, and gives great ''instant bio-feedback'' for sound & rhythm, or modern dance, even acrobatics, teaching fearlessness with inversions and developing the upper body. Good luck! k

My 4YO has been doing Pre-Ballet I at Conservatory of Classical Ballet in San Leandro. She certainly likes it. The other moms in my neighborhood say it's a classical program, implying they want something looser for their kids (more along the lines of Kids'n'Dance). I can't tell what classical really means, since I don't know beans about ballet. But along with positions and following directions they do running around (a.k.a. ''scarf dance'') every class. For my kid it's a good mix of play and discipline. You can come check it out Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. -- I think no one would mind if you watched. Certainly the parents do. Also, San Leandro isn't that far. It's just two exits below the Oakland zoo off 580. Cathy

Ballet school in Berkeley for 2-year-old

July 2008

I have a two-year-old who has shown a lot of interest in dance -- right now she's dying to take a ballet class. I would like to find a place where we can take a ''mommy & me'' dance class together, and where I could also sign up for casual adult beginner classes and/or classes for my 5-year-old (if she shows interest as well). The three places nearby that seem to fit the bill are Berkeley Ballet Theater (in the Julia Morgan building), Shawl-Anderson, and Berkeley City Ballet. I've read the available reviews on BPN, but many are several years old. I'm wondering if anyone has advice on how to pick a dance school, or can offer any current reviews, or comparisons between the three? Thanks.

At 2 and 5, your children are too young for ballet, though the 5-year-old enjoy a pre-ballet class. The three schools you mentioned are focused on the ''serious'' dancer though they do offer fun classes for younger students. All of them have excellent reputations for developing young dancers. Most dance classes offer a trial class for the little ones. You should try them out, or at least observe a class and see which one seems to fit your family. Some schools are more rigid than others about all kinds of things, like what kids wear and how their hair is done, how they behave in class, etc. And you want to pick one that fits you and your child's personality. If you have a problem with ''conformity'' then these formal dance studios might not be right for you. Also consider: Kids N Dance in Oakland, they have a variety of classes for the kids, plus some fun ones for adults like tap, hula and theatre arts! Brenda

My daughter has done several sessions of Dance With Me at Berkeley City Ballet . It is great! The classes are a good balance of learning ballet basics (1st, 2nd, 3rd position), plies, port de bras (arm stuff), with free movement (dance like an animal, make shapes with your body), and the children learn the stories of famous ballets and dance to their music. Now she is going on to pre-ballet, where your 5 year old would go. BCB also has adult beginner classes. You should definitely go check out a class. happy bcb parent

Ballet in Richmond or Pinole for 4-year-old

Sept 2007

I am looking for a BALLET class in Richmond or North for a 4 year old. The dance studios around here offer tap dance for this age group. We live in El Sobrante-so Orinda would be ok, too. thanks gail

Check out the East Bay Center for Performing Arts on Nevin in Richmond. They have fabulous dance classes and I know they have ballet for young kids. Good Luck

Ballet classes in Orinda for 3.5 year old girl

June 2006

Hi! We are looking for ballet classes for our 3.5 year old daughter in Orinda. Any recommendation would be appreciated! Thank you! Amy

Kids 'n Dance in Lafayette has wonderful, fun oriented, non stressful classes for kids from preschool on up. They also run classes at the Orinda Community Center. Kris, the owner is very child and process centered as opposed to strict technique, although technique is taught at developmentally appropriate levels. Good luck, Sindy

Ballet for 3-year-old Pinole girl

June 2005

I was wondering if anyone out there has any knowledge good or bad about the El Cerrito Ballet Center? My daughter is 3 and I am looking for someone who will take her that young while making this fun thus hopefully building a love for the art of dance. I was thinking also of doing the ''dance'' class at the Albany YMCA on Kains. Anyone know about this class as well? My daughter LOVES to dance (like mommy!) and at the sight of a ballet dancer on TV she stops what she's doing to watch. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated also, we live in Pinole and I don't want anything further than Albany. Thanks In Advance! Helping my Princess Ballerina

East Bay Center for Performing Arts for children's ballet, private music lessons, hip-hop, mexican music and dance, west african music and dance, theater, steel drums, jazz, chamber music etc. This place has a whole lot to choose from for great creative lessons. Check out their website at happy parent

I haven't been there in ages, but I know Adriane's Dance Studio in Pinole on Tennant Avenue, (behind Antler's which is across from Pear Street Bistro), takes in children as young as 3 years old, for dance lessons. I know they offer a variety of dance styles, including classical ballet. I took lessons there from when I was younger, for about six years, and the class I was in was my age group, and was fun! When I took lessons there, they were very friendly, child oriented, and the teachers made the classes fun... I don't see why those standard would not have carried on to today. Hope that helps! rs

Ballet class for 3 1/2 year old

Dec 2004

I'm looking for a ballet class to enroll my daughter in. She will be 4 in February. I am specifically looking for a class where parents are forced to wait outside. We tried the casual ballet/tap classes at the Berkeley Y but all the parents sitting around the perimeter to watch their little darlings freaked my daughter out. (Although the course description said parents should wait outside, this wasn't enforced.) Any recommendations of more serious classes, particularly those that enforce the rules, welcomed! mom of the next Evelyn Cisneros

Danspace on Hudson Ave. does not let parents in the room, or even congregate at the door. Better yet, they hire good people, and instill a love of movement, which is the most important thing for one as young as yours. former professional dancer

I started Ballet many years ago with a Royal Academy of Dance instructor and got a good foundation that served me well as I continued Ballet through Graduate School. The R.A.D. Instructor I am aware of teaches out of the Albany Community Center on Marin Ave. and you can pick up flyers in the hall of the center. She is Scottish and only allows the parents in on the final class of each session. She also requires leotards, not tutus. Her class is still very fun for the young ones! Kl

My daughter enjoyed the pre-ballet classes at the Berkeley Ballet Theater at the Julia Morgan Center on College Avenue. Deborah Moss is a wonderful teacher. They also put together a delightful Spring Performance for the Pre-Ballet School in May where all of the children perform. If your child sticks with it when they graduate to Level 1 at age 6-7-ish then she can audition for the Nutcracker Performance that the BBT puts on every Christmas. Former ballet mom

My daughter has been taking ballet lessons from Bonnie Sita at the East Bay Dance Center starting at four-years-old and is still happily taking lessons now that she is seven. My major goal was to provide her with a way to become familiar with and comfortable using her body. So I looked for a dance studio did not have an agenda about the perfect dancer's body type. I wanted a child-friendly program that wasn't regimented. I expected my daughter to learn to appreciate and control her body while enjoying dance and the music of ballet. My expectations have been more than met.

Bonnie is a wonderful teacher with children. Through a gradual process that occurs through play, imitation and instruction, my daughter has gained confidence in moving her body, security that her body is beautiful just as it is, and actually learned to gracefully and accurately execute ballet movements. Parents usually do not hang out watching (although they are not required to leave either) but are invited to a short performance during the last 5 minutes of each class.

Her classes have included children whose diverse ethnic backgrounds reflect the inhabitants of the city of Oakland which is important to me because my daughter is Chinese American. While most of the ballet students are girls, my daughter's current class includes a boy. Within guidelines, the children choose their own dance clothes which my daughter very much enjoys. She looks forward to classes and performances.

East Bay Dance Center also teaches tap, jazz and hip hop to children and has classes for teens and adults as well. It changed location this year to a wonderful practice and performance space at 1318 Glenfield Avenue in Oakland, just off of Park Boulevard and easy to get to from both I-580 and Highway 13. The phone number is 510-336-3262. Most of the classes have a weekday and a Saturday option. There are Fall, Winter/Spring and Summer sessions along with Winter & Spring Break special programs and a summer dance day camp. However, Bonnie is open to children joining the classes at any point during the year. Mom to a happy, healthy dancer

The East Bay Dance Center in Glenview has really cute classes for 3 and up. Lynn

Ballet for 2-year-old

June 2002

We've just moved to Berkeley from SF where my daughter has been taking ballet since she was 20 months old. She loves it!!!and talks about being a ballerina alot! The teacher moved her into the ''big girl'' (3 and 4 yr old) class because she was more focused and serious than all of the other 2 yr olds. The class was so sweet because the teacher really made them feel like ballerinas. Anyway, I'm looking for something somewhat similar for her (a dance class that is organized and challenging) here and most places don't take children under four. She will be 3 in August. (I haven't asked them to make an exception because I don't want to appear pushy and like a stage mother or something!) I checked the archives and called about 5 or 6 places listed but none have worked out. Any recent suggestions? Thanks so much in advance! LSG

Recommendations received:

Montclair Rec Center (3)

Ballet for almost-3-year-old

Sept. 2003

I'm interested in finding a ballet class for my pre-preschooler. Do they take them this young? My child is pretty good at listening and following directions and she loves dancing. I thought it might be a fun thing to do on a weekday afternoon or Saturday morning. Brenda

Re: Ballet for almost-3-year-old (Sept. 2003)
Recommendations received:

Montclair Rec Center

Other advice:
My daughter had just turned 2 when she decided she was going to do ballet no matter what! We tried a couple of places, but found that the only teacher worth seeing is Debbie Goveia. She is totally in tune with preschoolers and is flexible with age. If your daughter is motivated and listens well, she will surely be welcome in Debbie's preschooler classes. I believe she is teaching a ''Story Dance'' class at Habitot on Thursday afternoons, and also teaches creative movement on Monday afternoons at CA Theatre Arts ( in Walnut Creek. She was trying to start a Thursday morning Mommy& Me class at CTarts also. Her classes are called Story Dance or Creative Movement, but it is all based on ballet moves - she just creates stories around the moves to make it fun for the kids, and the kids REALLY respond well to her. She is HIGHLY recommended! Jaime

Pre_Ballet for 4.5 yr old

Dec 2002

My 4.5 yr old daughter is interested in ballet after seeing the Nutcracker this December. She's decided she would like to dance in the Nutcracker someday. Can anyone recommend, compare, or contrast the Pre-Ballet classes at Berkeley City Ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater? Any other places I should consider? Thank you! Berkeley mom

Recommendations received:


Other suggestions:
Ashkenaz on San Pablo offers pre-ballet and ballet for children 3.5 and up, with a focus, I'm told, on creativity and self- expression. Also, Luna Kids Dance is a really great program offered at a number of East Bay and SF locations that focuses on creative dance and improvisation (for older kids/teens they offer modern dance, too). As someone who spent most of her childhood and teenage years as a serious ballet student, I strongly advocate dance classes for young children that focus more on creative self-expression and ''make-believe'' than on ballet skills. Find a class that allows children to be silly and to make up their own dance moves -- for some reason, there seems to be more latitude for this when the teacher has a strong grounding in modern dance. If a child sticks with dance, there will be time aplenty for learning to plie, releve, turn out the feet from the hips, etcetera. Alexa

I HIGHLY recommend Debbie Goveia's Children's Moving Arts classes. She has Mommy & Me classes for kids 2-3 and preschool classes for kids 3-5 at Habitot on Wednesdays. She also teaches both classes and a ''Story Dance'' class for 5-7 y.o. at California Theatre Arts in Walnut Creek on Mondays and Tuesdays. My 2.5 year old does amazing ballet moves after a few months in Debbie's Mommy & Me class, and she absolutely adores Miss Debbie! Jaime

Pre_Ballet in Contra Costa County

May 2002

I am trying to find a pre-ballet or creative movement class for my 4 year old daughter. I am considering the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond. One other place I am looking at is Kidz & Dance in Lafayette. The Berkeley area is just too far from us unless there is an outstanding recommendation to make me fight for parking there! Thanks in advance for helping a little girl out. Nilou

Try Contra Costa Ballet Centre at 2040 North Broadway in Walnut Creek. I know it's good because my daughter has a friend who has studied ballet for years and is a professional dancer with some well-known ballet company. He trained there. Linnea

Civic Arts Education in Walnut Creek has really good classes. Less expensive than private schools and free parking too! Don't know if they still have it, but my daughter and I took a parent/child creative movement class together when she was 4 and it was lots of fun. Deborah

My daughter went to Kids 'n Dance in Lafayette and loved it. She was in the ''pre-ballet'' for 4-5 year-olds. I thought the teacher was very good with young children and it wasn't strict ''ballet'', but more of movement with some elements of dance taught as the class progressed. nkfleischauer