Dancing is an artistic activity which enables people to have greater self-esteem, communicate more clearly with confidence and fully develop their potential. The newly established dance company, 2XL, has designed dance courses for beginners, aged seven to 16. Classes in the 16-week course last for two hours each, allowing participants sufficient time to warm up and conduct basic exercises before going on to more in-depth learning and practice. Styles of dance covered include ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, modern dance, musical theatre, funk and hip hop. The different styles will be taught by specialists. 'The major difference between this course and others available on the market is that children here are encouraged to express themselves,' said Jamie Wilson, a director of the company. 'It is important to let children feel that they are part of the class and are contributing to it. 'It would be boring if you were in a school and you did what the teacher told you.' Mr Wilson said that from his own experience, dancing was an activity for empowerment. 'I started dancing since I was very young,' he said. 'It's natural expression. And it enables me to communicate more clearly. It builds my confidence. I do not feel shy and embarrassed when speaking in front of people. 'I love to make people happy and let them watch what dancing is all about.' Another director of the company Suzanne Schubert said dancing and other artistic activities should be encouraged in Hong Kong if we want to maintain our competitiveness as a cosmopolitan city. 'The society in Hong Kong is so academic and students are not encouraged to think creatively,' she said. 'Artistic activities can help in this aspect because they allow students to express freely and creatively. 'If you buy a present for a little girl, you will buy a doll. If for a boy, you will choose a truck,' she said. Mr Wilson said: 'When I was in Australia, there were more boys than girls in dance classes. Dancing is not only a feminine thing. It can also be very masculine. 'Boys and girls are equally adept at dancing. Besides, dancing can also be seen as a career.' The course will start early next month. It will be taught in English and Chinese. The full cost is $3,800 or $550 per session. For more details, call 9482- 5377; application forms are available at the Fringe Club.