Why Calisthenics? The dance sport that aids childhood development

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Rachel Holdway

Rachel Holdway

If you are looking for a physical activity for children that complements their childhood development, you really can’t go past Australian Calisthenics, says Rachel Holdway.

Rachel teaches at a Canberra Primary School and is the Head Coach and Principle Coach of the Sub Junior teams at Karilee Calisthenics in Weston Creek. 

Australian Calisthenics, or cali-dance, is an amazing team-based dance sport that builds both skills and confidence, and a sport that girls and boys can start participating in from as young as three. Consider the potential for learning of trying out this team-based dance sport by joining a calisthenics club.

Rachel explains that this form of calisthenics is a uniquely Australian sport for girls (and boys up to 14) that has evolved continuously since it first appeared on the Ballarat goldfields in the 1850s.

Calisthenics Routines

Australian Calisthenics involves a team of eight or more, performing routines that are choreographed to music by well-trained coaches. Each routine is between two to four minutes in duration. These routines are presented on stage at competitions. The teams compete in six separate age groups ranging from the Teenies and Tinies (7 and under) to the Masters (26 and over).

Calisthenic routines include a ballet-style dance (called aesthetics), a tight precision march, apparatus manipulation routines involving clubs and rods, and highly energetic and rhythmic gymnastics-like routines called Free Exercise. Some routines also involve singing and acting. Because children can start calisthenics at an early age, it helps enormously with their development. They develop flexibility, poise, grace, strength and agility, fine motor skills when working with clubs and rods, plus singing, dancing and acting skills.

“Calisthenics has everything!”  says Rachel.  “And I’m always amazed at the confidence that grows in these young people.  Often they come as shy and unsure.  By the end of a year with calisthenics, they have come along in leaps and bounds and can perform so many skills on stage with confidence.  This is a great life skill that is such a huge requirement in all aspects of school and work.”

Rachel says that the major aspects are co-ordination, fun and fitness.  As a sport, Australian Calisthenics encourages physical development, coordination, self-discipline and team spirit.  As an art, calisthenics develops an appreciation of music and rhythm, the beauty of line and the excitement of presenting on stage.

“It is a diverse sport which offers so much, including a huge amount of work ethic and responsibility,” Rachel Holdway.