Class update

Covid changed so much for so many, and for me it involved a move to Corpus Christi to take care of my mom and taking a break from teaching classes and directing summer camps at Athena.  But we never know what’s in store for the future, so check back again. It’s my hope to resume classes, camps and movement activities at a later date.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s been a part of CDA! xo Miss Joan

Now enrolling for Spring 2020!

In Creative Dance we explore movement through playful and imaginative stories, dance games and songs.  Children are introduced to dance concepts, skills and basic ballet through activities that engage the whole child – physically, cognitively, and socially.

Classes are held at Athena Montessori Academy and begin Tuesday, January 14th at 8:35am

For more information and registration LINK HERE

Join us for Summer camp!

Join us for KIDSTAR at Athena Montessori Academy.  Kidstar is a two-week creative, hands-on performing and fine arts camp for children ages 3.5 – 11. Students are immersed in creative movement, choreography, drama, storytelling, music, singing, costuming and art, all integrated through a common dramatic theme.

July 22nd – August 2nd

For more information or to register follow these links …..

Big Kidstar Performing Arts Camp for children ages 6 – 11

Little Kidstar Camp for children 3.5 – 5

Creative Dance and Executive Function

Making connections is at the heart of learning…..

Is my child over scheduled? Not doing enough? Should we add gymnastics or soccer to their list of activities?  It can be confusing, but ultimately we all want to offer our children the most beneficial and balanced extracurricular experience possible.

The latest research in developmental psychology – the study of neural, cognitive, and socio/emotional human development – points to creative dance as sort of one-stop-shop for healthy growth and learning.

For over 25 years I’ve been refining my Creative Dance curriculum.  Now more than ever research is reinforcing what I’ve instinctively known all along – that interactive, playful and child-centered movement experiences are essential to a child’s growth.

Specifically, creative dance enhances a child’s executive function – one’s capacity to learn and achieve goals. It directly influences the life skills children need for optimal learning and growth – socially, emotionally and cognitively.

According to Mind in the there are several essential life skills every child needs to enhance executive function.  I’ve outlined these below along with how your child’s dance class experience influences this learning.


‘Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting these things into categories. Making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. In a world where people can google for information, it is the people who can see the connections who can go beyond knowing information to using this information well.  Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions and actions.’

To prepare our bodies and minds we begin each class with the BrainDance – eight fundamental movement patterns human beings are programmed to move through from 0-12 months that wire the central nervous system. I then introduce our ‘magic word’ for the day.  The magic word is the concept that ties the class together.  It creates meaning and focus.  Concepts include place, size, level, direction, speed and rhythm, shape, line, relationships in space, energy, rhythm and flow.  Students learn about these ideas by seeing and saying the written word, then experiencing them in action.  These concepts translate to all areas of their lives, so the learning continues outside of the dance room.  Creative Dancehelps us make connections and think outside the box.


‘Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals, especially in a world that is filled with distractions and information overload. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibly and exercising self control.’

For children it all comes down to motivation, and like all young animals children instinctively want to play.

It’s no surprise that this is how they learn best. Creative Dance engages children through fun and challenging dance activities and games.  Because of the playfulness of my classes children are naturally motivated to focus, listen, and respond with original ideas and movement vocabulary.  Creative Dance is child centered and self directed.


‘Perspective taking involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’, teachers’ and friends’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts.’

Every class includes time for observation and reflection.  We respectfully watch our friends dance then we take time to offer ‘positive’ feedback.  Creative Dance develops empathy and understanding.


‘Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing – it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. It is the skill that many teachers feel is most lacking today.’

Every activity I present requires students to listen carefully and interpret my instructions.  I have a saying in class, “We listen, learn and have fun.”   We are also aware of each other’s personal space and are often reminded how to respectfully ask for what we need.  Creative Dance enhances our ability to communicate thoughtfully and effectively.


‘Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them) do better in school and in life.’

Through out class I use the phrase “Show me how you can ….” These are prompts that meet the child on their level.  Students also get the benefit of seeing various movement vocabulary and ideas as I demonstrate. Learning by example and being given the opportunity to try and try again creates a self-assured and confident child.  Creative Dance is empowering.


‘It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live — as long as we learn.’

In a nutshell, teacher guided discovery and self-directed learning is my approach to dance education.  It involves listening, interpreting, trying new ideas and repetition.  It involves novelty, play, thinking outside the box, observing and reflecting.  Creative Dance engages the whole child.



Brain-Compatible Dance Education by Anne Green Gilbert

Play, How it Shapes the Brain by Stuart Brown, MD


Joan Wolfe is the Creative Ballet Curriculum Director at Ballet Austin Academy 

and founder and director of Creative Dance Adventures

Top 10 skills children learn from the arts

…Here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts. They serve as a reminder that the arts — while important to study for their intrinsic value — also promote skills seen as important in academic and life success…

The Washington Post – The Answer Sheet  Jan. 22nd, 2013

By Lisa Phillips

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

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What a wonderful affirmation!

This is Mila’s grammy…just writing to say thanks again and how much I loved sitting in on the Creative Movement class a couple of weeks ago while I was visiting Austin.  I was so impressed with the way you integrated the first steps of ballet in to the creative movement environment.  It was lovely to see the little girls so energized AND so engaged at the same time.

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