The National Dance Week Foundation (NDWF) recently began 2017 by launching its new Creative Preschool Studio of the Year Award Contest. NDWF has teamed up with Princess Plié and Friends to spotlight dance activities for students ages two through six and to honor those who are using dance to teach children precious life lessons. The contest invites dance teachers and/or studio owners to submit a video between now and December 31, 2017, of their preschoolers doing a dance activity that teaches the benefits of sharing, teamwork, making friends, dance manners and encouraging one another.
NDWF Executive Director Cathy Graziano says, “NDWF and Princess Plié both believe it is important to help young ones learn not only the importance but enjoyment of sharing, teamwork and making friends. We are encouraging teachers to follow the example of Princess Plié as a teaching tool to help make that happen. This will be inspiring to see how they have achieved this goal when we share their submitted video with others.”
Princess Plié is a magical princess figure that “comes to life” out of her music box. A CD accompanies every softcover book and is approximately four minutes in length. Teachers often use it in their classroom as part of their curriculum.
“Princess Plié takes young students into a magical world where they get to explore dance in a fun and innovative way,” says Jenn Hockenberry of Princess Plié and Friends. “She introduces all of her friends who also share a love of dance that encourages students to want to try new dance steps.”
Princess Plié serves as a good role model for young dancers and as an ambassador for dance in general. When asked how she teaches children vital lessons on making friends and encouraging others, Hockenberry explains, “ In her story, she says, ‘With tutu in hand, we’ll dance through the land, painting rainbows, making friendships, we’ll dance hand in hand.’ She shows students how she interacts with her own friends during dance time by helping to teach them the steps and having everyone do it all together.”
Princess Plié also helps enforce appropriate and necessary dance manners.
“In her story, she lets each of her friends take turns learning the steps,” Hockenberry adds. “Everyone is polite and courteous to one another. At the end of the book, she tells everyone that they did a great job, encouraging them to do the same in class when their fellow students are taking their turns as well.”
Princess Plié’s newest characters are Fifi and Freddy. Whereas her main dance focus is teaching the basics of ballet, her new friends impart the fun and basics of hip hop.
“It’s a new creative song that helps keep children engaged in Princess Plié’s world while still learning something new,” says Hockenberry.
Joining Graziano and the NDWF team, Hockenberry encourages dance teachers and studio owners to check out Princess Plié and Friends for their preschool programs. She welcomes all video submissions for the contest, saying, “At the end of the day, we just want to encourage everyone to get involved and find inspiration from each other to make the best possible environment we can for our children to grow and excel in the dance community. Princess Plié serves as a mentor who builds a strong foundation to help build not just better dancers but better people.”
The contest prize includes a special Creative Preschool Studio of the Year Trophy, special recognition at United Dance Merchants of America events and other trade shows, plus a “Badge of Honor” for your website. Winners will be notified in January 2018 and officially announced at the end of February 2018 during NDWF’s annual celebration.
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.