Strong Women Series: Niroshika De Silva and Tutu School

About a year ago, I (Annie) had the absolute pleasure of having this amazing woman twirl into my life at a mutual friend’s wedding. She has created the dance studio of dreams – balancing the fun of dance, high quality teaching with a focus on joy, healthy body image and growing in strength as much as beauty as a dancer. With a degree in psychology, she knows what she’s talking about here – and she’s now a proud mama of her own little tutu-wearer. Talk about inspiring! 

In a quaint space where the lights of chandeliers bounce off of perfectly pink, purple, and yellow walls, little dancers giddily curl up on polka dots to whisper and then scream,

I LOVE BALLET!

With their enthusiasm radiating through the room and their excitement contagious beyond belief, it is clear that they absolutely do. This. This right here is the magic of Tutu School. To make sure that every child should know what it feels like to dance without feeling self-conscious about being “right” or “perfect.” To freely let their bodies flow to the scores of classical music, using their imaginations, to tell a story about empowerment, courage, and perseverance. And most importantly? To feel proud of the art that they create with their hearts and minds. Ballet at Tutu School is so much more than twirling. It’s a whimsical home for many children where they can learn important developmental skills and life lessons…they just happen to do so while wearing tutus or princely capes.

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As a former ballerina and current owner of Tutu School Union City, I can attest to the fact that BALLET.IS.HARD. Like REALLY hard. I stuck with it for my entire childhood and most of my adulthood because I wholeheartedly loved it but there were plenty of moments when it was also a love-hate relationship. In a somewhat strange way, I thrived in the ballet world through all of the competition because I succumbed to it and adopted the world as “my normal” since I didn’t know any better.

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Little Niro, Swan Lake, San Francisco Ballet

As horrible as that may sound, I don’t regret living in the world of ballet for one second because I don’t think I would be half the person I am today if I hadn’t. I learned to be ambitious, perseverant, and a whole host of other important skills that allowed me to become the psychologist and business woman I am now. However, I think if I had a tutu school experience as a child, I don’t know that I would have battled with myself as much during my tween years when I was confused about loving and hating ballet at the same time.

Many of us may recall the days when we explored ballet as young children. The odds are, you decided not to stick with it for a variety of reasons but a common one is that it was just strict and competitive. No one likes being told that they don’t have what it takes or only speaking when you’re spoken to (and let’s be honest, even then…just don’t open your mouth…just don’t). These classroom environments are designed to create the level of physical and emotional strength required to be a professional ballerina…except that it doesn’t leave room for continuing the appreciation of the art form when you’re young and unsure if you want to be a ballerina or not.

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Enter Tutu School. A whimsical boutique ballet school designed for young dancers to introduce children to ballet while fostering an everlasting appreciation for the art form because of the incorporation of creativity and imagination. In any given class, a child may leap like a fiery dragon, fly on the tops of their toes like a butterfly, or stretch like a rainbow in a magical garden. Children learn themes of bravery, forgiveness, and unconditional positive regard in classical stories such as the Firebird, Giselle, and Swan Lake. And just in case that’s not enough, they practice and develop skills of executive functioning, sharing, turn taking, and perseverance through learning short phrases of choreography and “performing solos” while dancing across the floor during class activities.

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Photo Credit Andrew Weeks Photography

As a mother of a daughter who already is showing interest in sparkles, headbands, and pink (guys, she’s seven months…am I in trouble?), I can absolutely say that I will expose her to classes at Tutu School. If she loves it and wants to pursue more formal training, great! If she doesn’t, that’s ok too (I’m not hyperventilating…I swear!) but she will gain invaluable skills from ballet classes at Tutu School that she can take with her no matter what she decides to do.

If you’d like your little one to experience the magic of a Tutu School class, then by all means, register for a free trial class! There are locations all across the Bay Area and in several other states as well! Classes are geared for children ranging between the ages of 18 months to 8 years old and they’ll skip, gallop, and leap their little hearts out. Be prepared for a whole bunch of cuteness!

If you’re not in the Bay Area, look for studios that mention that they base their children’s classes on creative movement until the age of 8, which is the developmentally appropriate age to start formal ballet training. If the studio offers a Trial class, that’s a good way to see if they uphold that philosophy or not!

What are your favorite dance memories? Do you still boogy in the kitchen with your kids today? Comment below!! Also, let us know about other #strongwomen we should feature here! 

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Niroshika De Silva is a mama, dance teacher extraordinaire, and owner of Tutu School Union City with a degree in psychology.

http://www.tutuschool.com