6 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Choosing a Dance Studio
If most dance studios seem to have friendly teachers, experience teaching children and a big show at the end of the year, aren’t they pretty much all the same? Does it really matter which place you decide to enroll at? Yes! There are 6 main things that can make a huge difference in the quality of instruction your child receives, the amount of extra work and hassles the parents must deal with and the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved with a dance program. Here are 6 things that every parent should consider before deciding on a dance studio for their child.
What type of dance floor is used?
Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. The best way to prevent against potential injury is by choosing a studio with a professional “floating floor”. A floating floor is a dance floor that rests on a system of high-density foam, to absorb the shock of jumping.
The top layer of the dance floor is also an important factor. A vinyl composite “marley” floor is accepted worldwide as the best surface layer for recreational to professional dance. Very few dance studios use professional marley floors because of the expense involved, and usually opt for a regular floor tile for a studio floor.
Our studio has a custom built floating floor with high-density foam blocks under the floor surface and a marley top surface. Our special floors help reduce the risk of injuries and allow students to dance longer without getting tired.
What is the size of the class?
If the class has fewer students in it each child will receive more personalized attention, learn more and have more fun. With younger students it is easier for a teacher to maintain control over the class and make sure each student understands the instructions. Our smaller class sizes make sure that no fundamental concepts are being missed and that students are not developing bad habits or improper technique.
Our studio limits all of our classes (ages 5 and up) to a maximum of just 12 students per class. With our preschool dance classes (ages 2 to 4) we limit all of our classes to a maximum of just 8 students per class.
Who is teaching my child?
Most dance programs have qualified teachers with dance training. Some instructors have been dancing for many years, and are highly skilled dancers. While this is a very important factor, you will also want to know about their teaching training. What experience does the teacher have in dance pedagogy? Are they trained in how to teach dance, or do they just have dance experience? Our dance instructors are college educated, highly skilled dancers with training in how to teach dance. Our studio director has a BFA in dance and has studied dance pedagogy, which has enabled her to create a solid dance program and continually train instructors in proper teaching techniques.
We believe there are two parts to learning dance successfully, qualified instructors and positive relationships in the classroom. These relationships are based on open communication between students and teachers, as well as students with fellow classmates. A non-threatening environment has been created, where students can make mistakes and be supportive of one another, while having fun and learning to dance.
What are the “extras” required for the year-end recital?
Most studios put on a year-end recital. This is a time for students to showcase their abilities on stage for all to enjoy. Questions you may want to ask are: How many days will your dancer be performing? Some studios have multiple performance dates for their recitals. How long is the recital? Some recitals can last up to 4 hours. What is the cost for costumes and tickets for this performance? Some studios charge hundreds of dollars for costumes and high-ticket prices at the door. Is there a blanket “recital fee” charged to all students? Most studios charge all students a fee just for participating in the recital.
We have one performance date for our end of the year recital, usually near the end of May. Our recital is approximately 2 ½ hours in length and is run very efficiently. Students are required to have a costume for every routine they are in during the recital. Costume charges are low and range between $45 and $90. We do not charge a recital fee and our recital tickets are kept very reasonable, around $7 for adults. There are additional optional purchases available during recital time; pictures and t-shirts, but these are all optional.
How can I watch my child in class without disturbing their learning?
It is very important for a student to make a connection of security and dedication to both the teacher and what they are learning in order for success to be obtained. When a student is constantly being bothered or distracted they have trouble focusing and learning. It is also just as important for a parent to know and understand their child is safe and being taught in a friendly manner.
Our studio makes it possible for the student to have their full concentration on the teacher and the material being taught while allowing the parent to get a “sneak peek” at their child’s improvement and learning. Our studio is equipped with a closed circuit camera system. Parents are always welcome to view their child’s class on the monitors in our family friendly lobby.
What is being taught?
How is the class structured, what is the emphasis placed on? Some programs are purely recreational and some are more focused on competitions. Some programs begin teaching the recital dance from the beginning of the season, and others teach only skills.
At our studio, classes for the pre-elementary student are age appropriate and fun, structured but not intimidating. These classes are a good introduction to dance and help develop beginning dance skills, creativity, coordination, and a love for the art of dance. Classes for ages 7 and up are all structured in a similar way based on the class style and technique level. During the fall and winter classes focus on technique training during class times. Dancers begin learning recital routines in January and February. During this time, class is carried out with the same structure, but time is spent incorporating what they have learned during the year into a recital routine. The recital is important, however it is not the focus of the entire year. The emphasis is placed on the process of learning and acquiring skills, as well as having fun we want to foster every student’s love of dance.