There is a wonderful, age-appropriate activity for your toddler or pre-schooler to join in Amsterdam: dance classes at Damoves. Most young children love dancing and Damoves is here to guide and encourage your little one. Julia Smile and her daughter visited Damoves to find out about the moves and more.
Dance contributes not only to physical but to mental development as well, by way of balance, coordination, rhythm, and musical awareness. Damoves provides all these developmental opportunities with the added plus of giving parents a whole hour of free time while their precious little one is in a safe environment, growing, developing, and thriving!
Welcome to Little Ones and All
My daughter and I spent a morning at one of the five locations across Amsterdam, where the school’s founder, Carly Verkerk-Wassenaar, was teaching a class. When we entered, the spacious room was already busy with parents and toddlers, coming into or leaving class. Carly moved about graciously, paying attention to everybody, greeting new arrivals or saying goodbye to the parents and children going home. We felt welcome right away. Indeed, my usually shy daughter started exploring the room, swaying to the rhythm of the music playing in the background!
Experiencing Class Without A Parent
The parents don't stay for the classes, not even with the youngest children. The children need to be able to focus on the teacher and the dancing, and parental presence can be distracting. However, there is a gradual settling in period, with a parent staying for the entirety of the first class, then for 20 minutes, then for 10, and eventually leaving their toddler for the entire hour. Carly has developed her approach over 13 years of teaching children and she is capable of dealing with even the most shy of children. In her experience, all children eventually grow to enjoy the class. Without a doubt, there is never a dull moment during the dance classes!
I really liked it. The teaching was totally focused on their age group with the emphasis on expression and fantasy, superb!
After the parents leave, the lesson begins. It starts with stickers; every child chooses one, and they are placed on the floor in a circle, to indicate the child's place. (I remember well from my kindergarten and early school years how helpful it was to have those little marks drawn on the floor to know my place on stage – children do not have fully developed spatial awareness and it can be a challenge to find the right spot). Circle time is a good way of coming together and getting into the right frame of mind for the class. The children warm up, and listen to the book of the day read aloud. During class, all the children are encouraged to participate, but no one is forced to join in the activities if they don’t wish to. The lesson concludes with more circle time and a cute little stamp on the hands. Everyone is eager to get a stamp, even the more timid children
The class follows a theme that changes every three weeks. The day we visited was the second week of the 'Sinterklaas' theme. Accordingly, the book and the dance stories were about the adventures of Sinterklaas and Piet, complemented by the appropriate props: sacks of gifts and a rope to represent the peak of a roof. Walking along the rope in different ways allows the children to practice balance and to move their bodies mindfully in different directions. As they dance to a story inspired by the theme, the children put themselves in character and enjoy the make-believe of the story. This exercise in creativity can help them overcome any little issues, uncertainties, or fears, while having lots of fun in a weekly dance class.
What to Wear?
No special outfit is required. Comfortable, everyday clothes are just fine, although some children like to wear ballet outfits and shoes.
Who Will Teach My Child?
All the Damoves teachers are dance or musical professionals (and many also have careers as performers alongside their teaching hours). They are all either graduates of a performing arts school or qualified dance teachers. Furthermore, Carly trains all her teachers according to the Damoves concept. All teachers hold a 'Police Clearance Certificate' and are certified in First Aid.
With these dance classes for very young children, I hope to plant a seed of happiness into the small kids' hearts. To make them happy every single day. And to, hopefully, when they have grown up, make them grab back to that seed. - Carly Verkerk-Wassenaar
Who Can Join?
All children between two to five years of age are welcome, regardless of whether they start moving the moment they hear music or whether they need a little more encouragement to join in. Children aged two and three years dance in the toddler dance classes with separate classes for each year group. Once they reach four or five years old they join the kleuterdans class (pre-schooler dance class).
What About Locations?
There are five different locations throughout Amsterdam, so everyone should be able to find one close to home: Oud-Zuid (Theatre Munganga), Vondelpark (Kinderkookkafé), De Jordaan (Studio van Leeuwen), Westerpark (MiniChiChi Club) and De Pijp (Studio Damoves).
The classes are definitely fun, but do they benefit children in other ways? Yes! The goal is to create self-confidence by helping children connect with their own bodies. While dancing they "sink" deep into their physical being which makes them feel steady and grounded; they feel their bodies and learn how to work with them.
Carly says: "We see the children grow every single class! With these dance classes for very young children, I hope to plant a seed of happiness into the small kids' hearts. To make them happy every single day. And to, hopefully, when they have grown up, make them grab back to that seed. When they might not feel too well some day, they suddenly realise that somewhere deep inside, there still is that small seed of happiness. I hope they will reach it, take it and hold it close. Realising they can always hold on to that deep down feeling of happiness. Even if the whole world is against them."
What The Parents Say
"I really liked it. The teaching was totally focused on their age group with the emphasis on expression and fantasy, superb!"
"Evan was very shy at first ... but he speaks about it all the time, especially about the stamp on his hand, so I guess it was a big success! "
"She LOVED It. Was truly beaming all day. Thanks again for making the space for her. I’m so happy she will be able to dance weekly."
"Rose really liked it. The day after the dance class she taught the class to all the children at her daycare! She wants to come again for sure! "
"We thought it was fantastic! Fien was still, watchful, waiting and it made a huge impression on her. We truly want to keep on coming to dance! Our compliments to the sweet, patient and enthusiastic teacher, Marjolein, with all these new children and parents!"
Damoves has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy.
Julia Smile is an expat mother who is passionate about travelling with her family and writing about these exciting experiences in her blog. Her other passions include reading and dancing. More about Julia and her family travels in her blog and Instagram.
Photo credit: Julia Smile