Areté Dance Center

Areté Dance Center instructor Alejandra Serrano works with student Lea Reouk during a class. The studio offers ballet and ballroom classes for kids and teens

Areté Dance Center’s new kids and teens program is all about trying different dance forms. The goal of the program, according to owner Kristina Mola Kuvshynov, is to build a well-rounded young dancer by offering a variety of dance styles ranging from ballroom to ballet.

Los Altos-based Areté previously offered only adult dance lessons, but that changed soon after space became available next door to Mola Kuvshynov studio at 979 Fremont Ave. in Loyola Corners. She said it was the perfect opportunity to establish a youth program, so she expanded the business.

“I felt really anxious trying to expand during COVID, but it seemed as if it was the right decision for the studio as a whole,” said Mola Kuvshynov, who launched the new program in August.

Already teaching adult classes at the studio, Alejandra Serrano was elated to become a ballet instructor for kids and teens as well.

“I thought adding kids to our studio would definitely make it much more fun,” Serrano said. “I was very excited.”

The youth program offers two main tracks: ballroom and ballet. Ballroom classes for grades K-3 and 4-8, respectively, are offered Tuesday and Thursday afternoons; ballet classes for ages 8-15 are held Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Ballet can supplement the ballroom track, and no prior experience is required.

“We encourage kids who are in ballet to do the ballroom, and kids who are in the ballroom to do the ballet in order to benefit the best and progress as dancers,” Serrano said, “as both of these dance styles are similar in terms of skills like posture, strength, musicality and flexibility.”

In addition, the studio offers creative movement and contemporary classes during the week, along with workshops with a different theme each month, including musical theater, jazz, salsa, hip-hop, flamenco, Ukrainian folk dance and polka.

“We decided to incorporate workshops as a way to allow kids to experience different forms of dance and styles, and to support artistic growth,” Serrano said. “It is also a fun, social, and creative way for kids to spend Friday afternoons doing something different.”

Complementary styles

According to Serrano, one reason behind offering a wide variety of dance styles to children was that the styles “complemented” each other.

For example, Serrano said she trained in classical ballet and contemporary throughout her youth. When she began ballroom two years ago, she realized that her ballet knowledge largely helped her in understanding ballroom dancing.

“Ballroom also helped me understand skills in ballet from a different perspective,” she added. “I would like kids to get the exposure to these different styles that complement each other early on, so that they can develop themselves to become dancers who understand the healthy and fundamental ways of moving.”

Mola Kuvshynov noted the importance of “natural, organic movements to explain body mechanics.”

“Especially at a young age, a dancer doesn’t know how they want to use their dancing, or body, in the future,” she said. “Really pure training in biomechanics will create a solid foundation for a

lifetime of healthy movement skills, whether they stick with dance or go into martial arts or become a fireman.”

The youth program caught the attention of Daniel Reouk, a Los Altos resident looking for a beginner ballet program for his daughter, Lea. The 6-year-old had been interested in ballet for some time, he said, and they chose Areté’s program due to its proximity and Serrano’s teaching.

“(Serrano) seems to have a very sweet and nice personality, and I have very good vibes in my daily communication with her,” Reouk said. “She seems to care for Lea and she wants to see her grow.”

Lea attends the Monday ballet class and Friday contemporary class. Reouk said he appreciated that Serrano was willing to adjust her lessons for Lea, as the program is designed for ages 8-15.

“I think (Serrano) likes Lea, and Lea likes her as well, very much,” Reouk said. “(Lea) enjoys working with her and she always wants to go there; she’s very excited about the class.”

In the near future, Mola Kuvshynov hopes Areté will increase what she called its “community presence” for the kids program. Down the line, Mola Kuvshynov envisions a kids and teens performance group representing the studio and serving the Los Altos community.

As for Serrano, her goal as an instructor for the program is to create “a specific place for kids to make it their hobby or passion, or whatever they want to do,” she said.

“I do believe in our classes being fun and (creating) a healthy mindset for kids,” Serrano added, “because kids are so young and it’s important for you to make it as fun as possible.”

Areté requires students to wear masks, and Mola Kuvshynov said the equipment is cleaned between classes.

For more information on the studio and its classes, visit aretedancecenter.com/kids.