Ballet classes at Summerhill International School

By on December 27, 2010

Do you have an aspiring ballerina in the family?  Summerhill may be the place to start.

Tell us about Summerhill’s new ballet classes.

We were very excited to launch our ballet class in September 2010 and the response has been overwhelming. The class is taught in our ballet studio at Summerhill and we are very fortunate to have a fantastic professional ballet teacher on staff to teach the class.

What is the benefit of taking up ballet at Summerhill?

The ballet class teaches children to enhance their mind and body connection and is predominantly about building confidence through physical self-expression and controlled body movements. The class is not the usual rigid ballet class taught in conventional ballet schools, but more of an expression of creativity and imagination, taught in an age-appropriate manner.

In the first fifteen minutes of the class, the teacher relaxes the ballerinas and lets them explore creative form complimented by varying music.  The class then evolves into an exploration of controlled movement through inspirational cues such as the shapes of animals or flowers. Thereafter, the basic movements will begin. The class sometimes also utilizes visual media and aids to show the children the different movements and motivate them.

When the students see how beautiful they are in different forms they are encouraged to blossom into ballerinas and feel their inner fire.

The class also teaches discipline through creating an understanding that patience and effort results in positive creative expression.

Who is it for?

The class is open to all children from 3-12 years old, both boys and girls, and we find that the boys seem to enjoy the class just as much as the girls!

Who teaches ballet at Summerhill?

We are extremely fortunate to have found a fantastic ballet teacher to teach the class.  Teacher Rika Yu has been a ballerina for 25 years.  Rika believes that at this young age, children should not do movements that are too rigo-rous on their bodies and prefers to make her class fun and exciting, teaching children that ballet is something that can make them feel good about themselves and is something to treasure.

Some of the highlights of her career include performance at the Department of the Jilin (China) Academy of Art, Jilin Opera and dance troupe as Premiere Danseuse, student at the choreography department of the Beijing Dance Academy, choreographer at the Asian Games in Beijing, and she was a choreographer/ballet instructor at the Elite Ballet Studio in Osaka.  She was also the founder, choreographer, and director of the Rika Oriental Ballet Company in Osaka succeeded by a three-year job as ballet instructor at the Kang Hua Kindergarten in New York.

She has studied classic western ballet and traditional Chinese folk dance; was a principal dancer in “Chang-E Flying to the Moon”, “Fan I” and “Little Radish” which received the highest performance award; performed both Asian traditional and western ballet; was a principal dancer in “Don Quixote”, “Swan Lake”, and “The Hunter and the Golden Bird”; toured China, Russia, and North Korea, and was featured on central Chinese TV; was selected as member of first class to study ballet with western instructors after the cultural revolution; created “Ballad”, “Late Autumn”, “Winter Night”, “The Belle”, “Illusion of the Apocalypse” and “Voice from the distance”, which was awarded first prize in the National University Dance Competition; created modern ballets “The Holy Fire of Asia” for opening ceremony, “The Month of May” and “Listening to the Spring”; created and performed in contemporary ballets “The Great Yellow River”, “Lullaby”, “Little White Horse”, “Song of Heaven”, “The Grease”, “The Wheel of Prayers”, “Wings” and “Song of the Himalayas”; created modern ballet “Beyond the Mountains” (1999), an award-winner at the World Creative Dance Competition in Saitama, Japan; performed (1999) at Town Hall, New York City, presenting contemporary ballets “Song of the Himalayas”, “Beyond the Mountain” and “Yellow River”; performed (2001) at Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Centre, New York City presenting “Prayer of the Spirit”, a synthesis of Asian martial arts and western ballet; was awarded (2001) “Most Outstanding Asian Artist” by the city of New York; and created a curriculum to introduce young children to classic ballet and creative dance.

Most ballet classes limit the number of children in one class.  How many children can participate in one lesson at Summerhill?  Are outsiders welcome? 

The class is limited to between 8 and 12 children per class.  Children from other schools are also welcome to join the class.


Currently we offer ballet classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, between

2 and 3pm.

For more information, call (03) 3453-0811 or e-mail  For a ballet class brochure,  visit


Kindergarten Program


Summerhill International School recently launched its Kindergarten program to serve the growing needs of the Tokyo community.  We asked Monique Keller, school director,  to tell us about the program and how it aims to benefit children.

1.     Tell us about the Summerhill Kindergarten program.

The Summerhill Kindergarten program recognizes that children will soon be entering schools that have a range of expectations for a child’s social and academic performance. The program provides a comprehensive, child-centered approach that, while challenging, also works to support all areas of the child’s individual development.  It recognizes both the value of emergent curriculum and the need for directed, sequential instruction to ensure that children enter first grade with the skills and knowledge expected of them in the school that they will attend.

Our program maintains high expectations not only for the children’s academic achievement, but also for their social development.  Nonetheless, the program recognizes that not all children learn the same and is tailored to help each child grow according to their own pace.  Through the use of a balanced, multi-sensory curriculum that includes the development of literacy skills, mathematics, science, social studies, computer studies, art, movement, music, and drama, students will leave the program enthusiastic, active learners.

2.     What is the curriculum like? 

Themes, Projects, Lessons, and Assessment :

The curriculum has been created to encourage students towards becoming life-long, active participants in their learning.  Students will be actively engaged at all times while in the classroom.  Lesson plans will be written to meet the individual needs of the students and rotate around the school theme.  All subjects will be integrated into these units to help create a deeper level of understanding and interconnectedness.

Core objectives of the program

To increase competence in dealing with and expressing emotional feelings in various social situations

To increase the child’s awareness of their role as an active, life-long lear-ner by nurturing their self-direction, initiative and independence

To teach strategies to help students build cooperative, trusting relationships and team work skills

To expand the child’s knowledge of themselves, their community, the global community, and basic events that have shaped those people through the study of social studies and geography

To increase competence and skills in language arts, mathematics, and the arts; to begin fostering an interest in the sciences

To further develop fine and gross motor skills, along with coordination

3.     What’s unique about the program at Summerhill?

The Summerhill Kindergarten Program has the advantage that the class size is small and focussed meaning that each individual child’s needs are catered for, allowing them to grow and learn at thier own pace.  Jeff Kratz, the kindergarten teacher, is highly qualified and experienced in early childhood and elementary education, thus ensuring that the programs objectives are achieved.

4.    Who may enroll in the program? 

The Kindergarten Program is open to all children who are planning to enter the first grade in the following school year.

Contact Summerhill or arrange an appointment to discuss your child’s needs or take a tour of the Kindergarten class.

Tel: (03) 34530811, e-mail:

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