In January 2008, local Astoria Mom Molly Rusich started Astoria Preschool Dance. Her first child was 8 months old and she taught one class with four students. “I decided to start Astoria Preschool dance because I wanted to offer dynamic preschool dance classes that encompassed all of the things I believed was important for preschoolers to have in their dance classes. I wanted to offer classes that would not only teach kids dance skills, but also develop their creativity, explore a wide range of movement and nurture their natural love of dancing. On a personal level, I wanted to have a place my own children could learn to dance that would encompass all my ideals about dance training for preschoolers” says Rusich.
Three years later, “Miss Molly”- now a mom of three -offers 6 different classes 4 days a week at the Steinway Reformed Church and Sol Dance Center in Astoria.
Astoria Preschool Dance’s classes are designed specially for preschoolers aged 20 months to 6 years.
Pre-steps (20 months-2.5 years) is a parent/caregiver class. Pre-steps students stretch, dance and sing in addition to participating in a variety of movement activities including obstacle courses, parachute play, and tumbling.
First Steps (2.5-3.5 years) is an early introductory class to basic ballet, tap, and creative movement. First steps students enjoy creative play in learning to dance.
Second Steps (3.5-4.5 years) is a beginning dance class in basic ballet, tap and creative movement where students increase their technical awareness through imagery. Second step students enjoy learning to coordinate steps and expressive movements.
Third Steps (4.5-6 years) is an intermediate children’s dance class in ballet, tap and creative movement. Students increase their dance technique through individual instruction and skill related games. Third steps students tackle multi-sequenced steps and learn about performing for an audience.
My 4.5 year old, Lily, has been taking Astoria Preschool Dance classes for a year and a half. She is now in Third Steps (and very proud of it). Miss Molly has an infectious energy and truly instills her love of dance in each of her students. She is incredibly patient in dealing with the challenges that come with teaching preschool aged children (she taught her first preschool dance class at age 13 and has three children under 4 of her own, so that patience comes from experience)! The class is a great mixture of challenging ballet and tap sequences and fun, creative, freestyle dancing. Lily looks forward to dance class every week and is very proud of the new steps she is continuing to learn. Astoria Preschool Dance does not do a recital at the end of each semester, but they do have a performance party on the last day of class.
I had initially envisioned signing my 1.5 year old, Violet, up for one of the terrific music classes offered in my area, as I had done with Lily at this age. However, after a trial class spent wrestling with her for an hour trying to get her to hold still and listen, I decided that maybe it wasn’t a great fit, even though she clearly enjoyed the music. At 20 months, Violet is the youngest in Astoria Preschool Dance’s Pre-Steps class, but each week she participates a little bit more, and she clearly loves it. Taught by the wonderful Miss Kate, Pre-steps is the perfect mesh of music, movement, tumbling and play. Violet gets to sing a little, jump around like a monkey, run like a choo choo, climb through tunnels and pop bubbles all in one class. It has proven to be the perfect alternative to music for the more active toddler.
Jeanette Sussi Sten