Mali from the What’s On Jrs laces up her pumps for Toddle Toes…

Hi, I’m Mali, my dad works for What’s On, and because he’s too lazy to hit his story count this month – he’s bribed me with freebies to pick up his slack. Let the records show, that this is not the first time I’ve had to neck a gallon of chocolate milk, to stay up past bedtime and bash out an emergency 300-word review…

I may be just three years old, but those three years have been, what’s the word you adults keep using? ‘Unprecedented’. I was born at the height of a pandemic, just after all the grown-ups started wearing creepy doctor masks. Then it was all about the murder hornet plague, Expo 2020, and the first football World Cup in the Middle East. Perhaps it’s because of my rebellious nature and the fact it was banned in public during my early days, but through all of it, the highs and lows, I’ve always found my happy place in closing my eyes, putting my hands in the air, and dancing.

It was a no-brainer then, when my dad asked me if I wanted to join in with a Toddle Toes dance class. Maybe I’d learn some fresh moves, or perhaps I’d find willing crowdfunding investors for the Mali Buckeridge Arts Academy – at the very least, I knew it would involve grooving in a new place, with some new friends, to some aux cable-enabled, three-cord, cold hard bangers.


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The team at Toddle Toes run the course on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the third of the three weekly sessions held at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club. That’s where we’re headed today, running about 10 minutes late. Dad is trying to blame it on “last-minute deadline drama” and his “80 HD” but it’s clearly just poor time management.

We arrive at the venue and apologise for turning up tardy. I look at dad, he looks back sheepishly. “You better have brought your A-game” I think. But, the dance instructor Paysley is sweet and welcoming, kindly tells us not to worry, and calls us straight into the action. It’s a frantic little number, like the Hokey Cokey but with more animal-based freestyling. I’m a falcon, an elephant, a scampering monkey, and a leaping lion.

Then we sit down in a crocodile drum-circle, snapping at imaginary wandering wildlife. Dance is nature, I am the hunter, I am the prey, all life is a rhythmic ballet. Up on our feet again, we’re monsters now, growling, gnashing and superficially fierce, making our way to a grand monster ball.

I’m really enjoying the wiggling and stomping, jumping and clapping, and all the other dancers, including the parents (who are trying their best to get involved, but seem to sit out on the routines where choreography calls for knee work) are smiling great big toothy smiles.

There are dances with props – ribbons for twirling, tambourines for swirling, and mad shapes for hurling; dances where you jam with your partner; and opportunities to strut to the beat of your own drum. Which is what I loved most. Toddle Toes encourages you to be an individual, as well as part of a gang. At the end, I got a sticker. Dad got a cuddle. And we both danced in the car, the whole way home.

Locations: Kids HQ in Barsha (Mon from 9.30am), Melodica The Palm (Tue from 10.15am), Polo Club Studio City (Thu from 3.30pm). Three week trial period for Dhs240 for the three classes.

Images: Provided