Tag Archives: magic

Winter Ballet Shows for Children 2015/16

Hi everyone, we hope you’re enjoying yourselves in the sporadic autumn sunshine we’ve been having. As the leaves start to crackle and fall into a blanket of autumn crispiness we thought it was time to look ahead at what dance delights are in store this winter. We love live ballet performances, there’s no better way to inspire your kids to love dance and also to bring a bit of magic into your lives as the summer waves us goodbye and the winter beckons us in.

First up is the brilliant Ballet Black with their charming performance of Dogs Don’t Do Ballet. The ballet follows the story of Biff the dog who loves tutus, tiaras and ballet a whole lot more than chasing sticks and fetching newspapers! This ballet is suitable for children aged 3+ and is on at Watford Palace Theatre on the 30th and 31st October and Swansea University on the 14th November. One of our Twinklesteps team has seen this and can thoroughly recommend it 🙂 For more info see here.

Dogs Don't Do Ballet

© Bill Cooper.

Wee Cinderella is a delightfully fun pocket sized version of Cinderella by the wonderful Scottish Ballet. Your family can follow Cinderella on an enchanting journey into the woods filled with adventure, imagination and festive charm. This ballet is also suitable for children from 3+, so a big thankyou to Scottish Ballet for offering a ballet aimed at delighting younger children and their accompanying big people. It’s only on up in Scotland during December and January, but might just be worth venturing over the border for! More info here.

© Scottish Ballet

© Scottish Ballet

Get into the festive season with one of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairytales The Snow Queen. Follow Gerda’s fantasic adventure across the frozen north to rescue her friend kay from The Snow Queen’s Palace of Ice. Ballet Theatre UK are touring The Snow Queen this autumn and winter in a huge array of local venues (find out more here). Here’s a clip of one of Theatre Ballet Uk’s previous tours of The Snow Queen:

Other ballets you can look forward to and find out more about over on our events page are The Tortoise and the Hare, by Northern Ballet and My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty by English National Ballet. So cosy up and watch a children friendly ballet performance this winter: as the nights start to draw in, the magic of ballet awakens 🙂

Let us know what you think of any performances you see and give us a nudge if you see any ballet shows for children we should add onto our events page.

Here’s to a wintery season filled with the magic of ballet, from the Twinklesteps Team 🙂

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How was Twinklesteps Created?

This week we thought you might like to know a little bit more about Twinklesteps: who she is, where she came from and how she was brought to life. Twinklesteps started out as a bright idea dancing in the imagination of Twinklesteps creator and dance school owner Yvonne MacGregor. However, it wasn’t until Yvonne met writer Andrea Wilder and illustrator Lisa Williams that Twinklesteps leaped into the world and developed into an inspiring role model, encouraging young children to dance through imagination and play. Read on as the Twinklesteps team share all of their secrets about Twinklesteps, the fairy ballerina…

Twinklesteps jumping in light up ballet shoes

How did the Story of Twinklesteps begin?

Yvonne: It all started from a wish to inspire young children to enjoy dance through the magical world of ballet. Most little girls who start ballet want to feel like a fairy or Princess and I wanted to encourage and explore this imagination. I was keen to make the early stages of leaning ballet into something magical, and at the same time provide a visual aid to help them to understand how to stretch right to the ends of their toes. I wanted to create a shoe that would sparkle when they had reached a full stretch through the foot to the ends of the toes – very important in ballet. This developed into the idea of creating a little girl /fairy character who loved to dance and had shoes that sparkled when she pointed her toes. Because the ‘Twinklesteps Full Stretch’ ballet shoes are taking time to perfect, and inspired by children in my own ballet classes who loved the idea of sparkly ballet shoes, I created a different set of ballet shoes that would light up and sparkle when the wearer dances and are not reliant on pointing their toes. The ‘Twinklesteps Light Up‘ ballet shoes have little lights under a pink butterfly that sparkle when the children dance – so adding to the magical world of fairies and ballerinas. The shoes are great fun and intended for imagination and play – the children can now have sparkly shoes just like Twinklesteps. Read more about our light-up ballet shoes here and buy your pair here.

What’s the meaning behind the name?

Yvonne: I thought of the name after developing the idea of the shoes but before I thought of the character. I searched for Twinkle related names but didn’t want the obvious Twinkle Toes. I decided on Twinklesteps, as the shoes twinkle on each step. Twinklesteps then seemed like the perfect name for our new little character. Twinklesteps has taken on a life of her own and the shoes are now just a product that add to the fun of dressing up like Twinklesteps. The boys have not been left out – Twinklesteps has a good friend called Jett who also enjoys dancing and going on adventures with her.

Twinklesteps and Jett ballet

Is Twinklesteps a fairy or a little girl?

Yvonne: I knew that I wanted her to be a little girl who all young girls could identify with and not just be a mystical fairy. I had some ideas of how I wanted her to look but needed help to take my ideas forward. I was fortunate to meet Lisa and Andrea who shared my vision and excitement. We had numerous meetings and discussions of how she would look and had great fun exploring ideas for her character. Twinklesteps was brought to life by Lisa’s wonderful illustrations and by Andrea’s exciting adventure stories.

Andrea: One of the biggest discussions we had early on, was about the magical content of the stories and in particular of Twinklesteps herself. Twinklesteps is a fairy but she’s also a little girl and I was keen to keep the part that children could relate to very strong. She can do extraordinary and impossible things, like fly, but I wanted her qualities to inspire children. I wanted young readers to feel that if they could be brave, courageous, determined, kind and funny like Twinklesteps, they could achieve their dreams or at least give them wings!

Anything is possible - Twinklesteps ballet inspiration

How did the character of Twinklesteps come to life?

Andrea: For me, as the writer, creating Twinklesteps was more a case of allowing her to step through the team’s collective imagination to reveal herself rather than consciously trying to construct a new character from scratch. From Yvonne’s first discussion about her, she very quickly appeared in my mind’s eye and so really my job was to allow that picture to become clearer and sharper in detail and then listen to her voice. That wasn’t very difficult as Twinklesteps has plenty to say!

We bounced ideas around as a team, which is always fun and inspiring. Encouraging children to dance by using dance terminology was always going to be a major feature of the stories. This gave me a very clear framework to work within. Once Lisa presented some rough draft sketches, the stories and characters of the Twinklesteps world took off very quickly.

Lisa: Twinklesteps came to life in the Step One studio – We decided that she was a little mischievous red head with freckles – We also decided that she loved dancing and dressing up in different fairy outfits. Twinklesteps is extra special because not only does she fly, she has special shoes that light up when she dances.

As Andrea, Yvonne and I chatted through our thoughts about the character she became more and more real to us – each of us added to the discussion and Twinklesteps evolved in to the character we all know and love today. When she flies in the rain she has waterproof wings – she even has glow in the dark wings for night time adventures too. I thought her skirt would flow through the air if it were in petal shaped pieces rather than a conventional pancake style tutu then she could return to her ordinary clothes when she is home being an ordinary little girl.

Twinklesteps is a kind friend …not everyone knows that she is a fairy, they think she is just a 'normal' little girl, but we know  otherwise don't we!

Which came first, the story or the illustrations?

Andrea: Lisa and I work symbiotically. I can suggest the way I imagine a character and their personality, Lisa will present some visuals, which in turn spark off stories and further ideas in my head. Before long the characters are chattering away and the stories practically write themselves. It’s wonderful seeing the characters come to life. The stories are queuing up to leap on to the page or, should I say grand jeté.

Practising ballet in the garden

We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out all about Twinklesteps. You can view and read her introductory story for free on our website and you can buy our first book ‘Twinklesteps and the Disappearing Birdsong here.

Happy dancing from the Twinklesteps Team 🙂

 

Spring into Spring with a Fairy Ring

Yipedeedoo! We’ve now officially bounced into spring and we’re all very excited at Twinklesteps HQ about the lighter days, flowers exploding into colour and those exciting glimpses of warm sunshine. The fairies are starting to yawn and stretch and make an appearance in the garden, so maybe it’s time to discover your fairy name, dream up some magical powers and get out there and join them. We have a fun new play activity to get your going. Find out how to Make a Fairy Ring below…

The sun is shining and there’s so much to do out there in the garden. The birds love to watch Twinklesteps when she practices her ballet moves, I bet they’d love to watch you too!

spring into spring

Can you dance like Twinklesteps in the garden to entertain the birds? You could wear ballet shoes, boots, trainers or even dance barefoot in the spongy new spring grass. For extra magical effect dance in our light-up ballet shoes, which really encourage dance, imagination and play (more here).

To make things even more magical in the garden why not Make a fairy ring?

You will need:
Long ribbons, tulle or strips of material
Bamboo canes (or use existing trees)
That’s it!

Weave ribbon in and out of trees or push a few bamboo canes in the ground and let your child make their own magical space to dance or play in – they might need help to make a doorway. Here’s one of our Twinklesteps fans making a fairy ring. These can create hours of fun and could be as big or small as you wish – the simplest ideas are the best 😉

Fairy Ring magical play

Pssst, Easter is coming. Try our Ballet themed Easter Hunt here.

Have fun, from the Twinklesteps Team.

New children’s ballet show roundup for 2014-15

Oh my goodness, we’re getting fidgety toes with excitement here at Twinklesteps HQ because there are sooo many fantastic ballets to take your little people to out there. Do you feel that Autumn nip of late? We all know that when swirls of frosty air start to gather on our doorsteps that Nutcracker season is gathering momentum. Check out our what’s on page for performances.

Not only that, we’ve also seen that a children’s version of Swan Lake by English National Ballet is going on tour next year – yey! With a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music, this is the perfect way to introduce children to classical ballet. Here’s their gorgeous poster:

My First Ballet Swan Lake English National Ballet

For ballet fans in Leeds you’re in for a treat in October because Northern Ballet has the Elves and the Shoemaker for you (please take this on tour soon Northern Ballet!). Here’s a realy fun clip of their reheasals:

What’s just as exciting is that London Children’s Ballet are performing Snow White again next year. Yippee! Check out some snippets from their 2009 production:

Check out our What’s On page for details of all these ballet shows and do let us know if you hear of any more shows suitable for younger children please ballet fans.

Psssst, we have a secret we’re desperate to start shouting about so watch this space and follow our blog to be the first in the know 😉

Have a lovely week from the Twinklesteps Team

Make Magical Flying Wrist Bands

Here’s an action packed craft activity inspired by Twinklesteps’ friend Jett. It is sure to get children excited (boys and girls both love this one), it’s super quick to make, really fun to play with and guaranteed to result in lots of leaping, jumping and giggling! All you need is some paper, colouring pens and sellotape. If you want to ramp things up you could also grab some glitter, glue, paper and stickers, or whatever you or your child take a shine to. The choice is yours…

First cut off some strips of paper and decorate them in any way you like. Maybe like this one with lots of glitter, sticking and hole punching:

Craft - magical flying wrist bands

…or you could keep it simple like these ones:

Craft - magical flying wrist bands 2

Then sellotape the paper strips into circles and wear them like a wristband. It’s now up to your child’s imagination to try out some flying or, if you’re feeling energetic, you could play too and whizz them around the room like superman. Here’s one of our Twinklesteps fans trying out her magical wristbands:

Flying with magical wristbands

If you want to see the original flying wrist bands, here’s a picture of Jett. Find out more about him and the rest of Twinklesteps World here.

Jett

We hope you enjoyed this activity. Let us know how you get on and make sure to post any of your own crafty wrist bands on our Facebook page. If you enjoy our blog posts, make sure you subscribe to get them pinging straight into your inbox. Look over to your right and hit the ‘ooo yes please’ button 😉

Happy Flying from the Twinklesteps team.

Ballet Steps for Young Children

Children naturally love music and enjoy moving to it so it’s great to encourage this natural enthusiasm by putting on music and encouraging children to dance. Young children are bubbling over with imagination and creativity so ballet for children up to age 5 is usually aimed at incorporating creative movement with some very simple ballet moves. As they get older they’ll be able to try more and more ballet moves whilst hopefully keeping some of that awesome imagination and creativity. Here are 6 simple exercises, a mixture of ballet moves and creative movement, to try with your child, at whatever level suits them:

Good Toes, Naughty Toes: Whilst sitting, stretch your legs out in front and turn your feet up. Stretch through your feet right to the end of your toes (good toes). Remember to try not to bend your knees. Keep your body pulled up too. Children love this!

Rising Star: Whilst holding onto a chair, rise up onto your toes then see if you can let go and twinkle your fingers like a star;-) This one’s great for improving balance.

Summer Flower: Start curled up in a little ball then put your fingertips together and point your arms towards the ceiling. Unfold your body to follow your arms as you grow, and grow and grow. Stretch out your arms and do a ballerina turn as you unfold your petal arms in the sunshine.

First Position:  Whilst standing, place your heels together and turn out your toes. See how long you can hold the position whilst holding on to a chair or other piece of furniture.

Fairy dance: If you have some fairy wings and a wand you could use them in your dance or you can just pretend. Show lovely little fairy steps and perhaps make some magic with your wand. Stretch your feet, right to the ends of your toes. Imagine you are wearing Twinklesteps’s shoes and they sparkle when you stretch your toes.

Princess Walk: Feet in first position, hold your skirt or put your hands on your waist.
Imagine you are a Princess with a beautiful tiara on your head. Remember to keep your body pulled up and look very proud too.

Watch this video to see Joanna helping you through some steps and exercises. She also demonstrates the demi-plié (plié means to bend and demi means half) which isn’t as hard as it sounds!

Twinklesteps from TudnoTV on Vimeo.

Check out our book ‘Twinklesteps and the Dsappearing Birdsong‘ for some ballet inspiration for your child.

Happy Dancing from The Twinklesteps Team.

Don’t forget to sign up to our blog for ballet and dance inspiration, crafts, competitions and fun! Look over to your right and hit the ‘ooo yes please’ button 😉

The Magic Word – new ballet show for children

The Twinklesteps team are delighted to hear that, following their sell out shows last year, Let’s All Dance returns with another gorgeous, classical ballet for children: ‘The Magic Word’. Their last ballet, The Princess & the Frog, was a magical fairy tale ballet with the theme of friendship at its core. Find out what more about ‘The Magic Word’…

In a secret, magical forest lives the beautiful Forest Queen. In the summer the forest is warm and the Queen loves dancing in the dappled sunlight. But in the winter she becomes cold and hungry.

ballet dancer magic word

One day she decides to visit the Forest Elf on the other side of the wood, as she knows he has food and a warm cloak.

ballet dancers magic word

But the Queen is rather spoilt and does not know how to ask nicely. Once she learns The Magic Word she discovers the beauty of sharing and the joys of true friendship.

Children will be enchanted by the magical dancers, stunning costumes and crystal clear story-telling. With themes of kindness, good manners and friendship this is a heart-warming tale for all ages. The show lasts approximately 45 minutes including a meet the dancers session afterwards.

So far there are tickets on sale at The Riverside Studios, London for 27th – 29th June. If you book tickets before the 28th Feb & then email info@lets-all-dance.co.uk quoting “Valentine Magic Word” you’ll receive an autographed poster. Book here.

If you’re a school or nursery, Let’s All Dance also take the show in to see you and are currently taking bookings for the autumn term.

Let us know if you go and see it and in the meantime enjoy some magical adventures with Twinklesteps the fairy ballerina and her magical ballet shoes in our new book: www.twinklesteps.com/shop-disappearing-birdsong.htm

From The Twinklesteps Team.