Calisthenics is a team dance sport unique to Australia. It could be best described as a combination of rhythmic gymnastics meets ballet. This sport requires flexibility, strength, balance and more. If your child is a keen dancer and loves to move, then joining Calisthenics WA may be for you!
We recently went along to a trial at our local Calisthenics WA club to see if Miss 5 would enjoy it. She’s an energetic child who constantly seeks movement, so it was worth giving it a go. She joined in the Calisthenics Starlets Class. This is suited to children aged 3 to 6 year old, and is non-competitive.
Calisthenics has traditionally been known as a female-oriented sport. However, it is open to both boys and girls in the younger groups. For instance, our class today had a young boy joining in. Children are encouraged to attend their sessions in a leotard or a comfortable t-shirt and shorts, and bring along a water bottle to stay hydrated. Miss 5 opted for her leotard, as had a number of club members.
The training session began with a gentle warm-up. The children played a game of ‘What’s The Time Mr Wolf?’ and danced the ‘Hokey Pokey’ with the coaches.
In addition to the games, the coaches lead the children in doing gentle stretches to limber up little muscles. These included some yoga stretches such as the cat and cow pose. Miss 5 loved it!
After that, the children moved into two groups to practice mat activities. These involved tumbles, rolling and leg kicks.
From here, the children moved on to practicing dance moves with props such as shiny flags and aluminum rods. A coach lead each activity, showing the kids how to move, encouraging them with praise and high fives along the way.
The session subsequently then moved on to more dancing as one large group. The children received a light skirt each. The coaches encouraged everyone to dance like delicate butterflies. Free to move they own way, the children twirled and skipped around the gymnasium. I believe this was Miss 5’s favourite.
To conclude the training session, the coaches brought out a large rainbow coloured parachute and plastic balls. The children moved into a circle and waved this as a team. The best part was the big lifts where they tossed the majority of the balls into the air.
The starlets sessions are play-based and fun. The coaches encourage and are positive the whole session. For example, at the very end, the children receive a sticker to take home. Watching from the side lines, it’s easy to see the activities are designed to build strength, balance and coordination. However, the young children would have no idea they’re learning all these basics. The sessions are full of fun and music.
Calisthenics is recognized as a fun and healthy way to keep fit for children of all ages. The sport involves teams of participants learning routines choreographed to music and presenting these routines on stage at competitions and concerts. In addition to team items, participants can compete in solo and duo routines.
Competitors are classified into age groups, and teams compete only with other teams within the same age group. Similar to gymnastics, the routines are judged by a panel and competitors are awarded points. Emphasis is placed on their choice of costume, music and dance, theatricality and their musical interpretation.
The grades and age groups are:
Starlets – Under 6 years and under (non-competing)
Sub Juniors – 6/7 to 10 years
Juniors – 11 to 13 years
Intermediates – 14 to 16 years
Seniors – 16 years and over
Masters – 26 years and over (non-competing)
In conclusion, if you and your child love a bit of sparkle and glamour, and if your child loves to dance, joining Calisthenics WA may be just the ticket! When asked if she’d like to join in the training sessions every week, Miss 5 said she’d prefer to go to the beach! However, later in the day she asked if she could go again. So we will be seriously considering joining the Starlets in future. The calisthenics classes also seem to be a great way to make friends. Miss 5 seemed to have struck up a friendship with one or two other girls by the time our 45 minute session was over. I loved it just for that!
Each Calisthenics Club has a slightly different fee structure, but to give you an guide, the fee for Starlets (under 5’s class) at the club we attended is $450 for the year, which includes all performance costumes and runs for 4 Terms.
Fees for the five older age categories start from $785 for the year, which also includes all costumes. These fees differ slightly from club to club, so please check each individual club’s website for accurate pricing.
There may also be additional fees for equipment and clothing. So please check the website for further information about what your child may require.
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