In this post we will provide four tips many parents do not think to consider when choosing a dance studio for their child and why the choice matters.
Tip #1 Ask details about the teaching staff.
The teaching staff is at the heart of a top-notch dance education program. So, what questions should be asked about the teaching staff?
Do they hold a degree or certification in the dance genres in which they teach? This is not a requirement to be a dance teacher so a dance teacher that has pursued this course has gone the extra mile to prove their qualifications.
Does the studio require continued education of its teaching staff? The dance scene is ever evolving and to keep up with industry standards, changes in teaching techniques and styles in choreography, it is important for a dance teacher to continue their own education.
Tip #2 Ask details about the dance program.
The details of a dance program can tell you much about its focus and goals while teaching children. So, what questions should be asked about the dance program?
How are class levels divided? It should be expected in the young years that classes would be divided by age since a child’s mental and physical development at an early age is similar to their peers, but it is important to know that an older child would not be held back if their ability, knowledge and maturity progress faster than their classmates.
Do they have a dress code for class? A studio that implements a dress code is more likely to offer a more disciplined training program than a studio without one.
In addition to Ballet, does the program offer Pre-pointe and Pointe classes for dancers that are of the appropriate age and ability? Since a strong ballet program offers the single most important foundation for dance, it is important to determine the quality of the ballet program and a high-quality ballet program will generally offer ballet technique, pre-pointe and pointe classes at age-appropriate levels.
What is the time length of classes? Though it is understandable that young children’s classes would be 30 or 45-minutes in length, it is important to look ahead and see that older children are offered longer class time that is needed for a teacher to incorporate every element of a well-taught dance class.
Tip #3 Ask Details About Performances
Performances are usually an important part of a dancer’s training. So, what questions should be asked about performances?
What performance opportunities are available now and in the future for my child? It is usually assumed that a child will have the opportunity to perform in a dance recital at the end of the year but having more than one performance opportunity each year will help a dancer to improve their performance quality and style.
What is the studio’s policy on when recital choreography is started? If a studio’s policy is that recital choreography should begin at the start of the dance season, that might indicate that a studio is more performance-focused than technique-focused. Though both a dancer’s performance quality and a dancer's technique quality are important, significant time should be spent each year on improving a dancer’s technique.
Are costumes required for the performance and how much are they? There is no industry standard on the cost of a costume. While one studio may charge $60 for a costume, a studio down the street may charge $300 depending upon their vendor and if it is a stock costume or a custom-made costume. Another factor that may be important to a parent is the modesty and age-appropriateness of costumes chosen by the staff.
What are fees associated with each performance? Though some performances such as community performances may not come with a fee, generally there is a necessary fee charged for a recital or other performances to help cover expenses such as rentals, staff, props, sets, set-up crew, cleaning crew, etc. Those fees may be presented as a recital fee or ticket fee and may or may not include a performance program, photography, videography, t-shirt memento, etc.
Tip #4 Ask for a Free Trial Class
Many studios will allow a child to try a class of one or more genres of dance before committing. By scheduling a trial class at any studio that you are considering you will benefit by…
seeing the facility in person.
feeling the vibe of the studio’s friendliness, professionalism, and warmth.
being able to compare each studio by your own experience.
being able to determine which studio best fits the needs of your family.
Aren’t Cost, Location and Friends Important Factors?
Most parents consider cost, location and where their child's friends dance when choosing a dance studio for their child. Even though these three factors may impact a parent's decision, are they the most important factors? You decide...
You know the adage, "You get what you pay for." Who would expect to receive the same quality hamburger from a fast-food restaurant as they would from a 5-star steakhouse? This is also true when choosing a dance studio for your child's dance education. A studio's tuition is based upon many factors, but one important factor is the salary of its teaching staff. The higher tuition rate may reflect the cost of a more experienced and well-trained staff that provide a higher quality dance education for its students.
Location! Location! Location! That is an important factor when seeking the value of real estate but is it the most important factor when choosing a dance studio for your child? Realistically, of course, it is essential that busy parents are able to get their child to and from class, even so, many centrally located studios with the highest visibility have the largest student base resulting, in some circumstances, in less personal attention given to each student. A smaller studio might be the hidden treasure you are looking for, providing a lower teacher-to-student ratio with individualized training.
Dance is an enrichment activity that involves socialization so it makes perfect sense that a child would want to dance with their friend. Fast forward and consider what may result if the child's friend loses interest in dance. Long-lasting dance friendships are made at studios everywhere, especially a studio that nurtures a warm, family-like environment.
Why Does It Matter What Studio I Choose for My Child?
There are many reasons that a parent starts their child in a dance class, and it may be as simple as, “they twirl around the house on their tippy toes all the time.” At that stage of a child's life, where the child dances may not seem all that important. Any reason is a good reason to start a child in dance but many times a parent finds that what started as a fun activity later turns into a true passion for the art. No one can predict their child’s future but if that passion turns into a desire to dance in college, dance in a professional company or pursue another dance-related career, why not choose a studio with a quality program to give your little dancer the best foundation they can have to pursue a lifelong passion for dance if they so choose?