If your child loves to move to music, enrolling them in a dance class seems like a great idea. However, with so many studios to choose from, it can be daunting to decide which studio is the best fit. Below are a few things to help you narrow your search.
Obviously, choosing a studio close to your home is helpful, especially if your child would like to take more than one dance class per week. If there is more than one dance studio in your neighborhood, how do you know which would be the best fit for your child?
A few questions to ask are:
- Do you see your child pursuing dance professionally or recreationally?
- Is the studio competitive or promote competition teams?
- Are the instructors professional and educated?
- Are there performance opportunities?
- Does the studio offer drop-in classes or full semester packages?
Professional versus Recreational track
Children who are interested in pursuing dance professionally will need to dance several days per week. This requires a financial and time commitment from parents. To give you an idea, as a former professional dancer, by the time I was in high school, I took 13+ classes per week.
However, if your child wants to learn to dance for fun and fitness, once a week is fine. As I mentioned in other articles, dance has many benefits including physical/mental well-being, creative/self-expression, body positivity, and helps develop healthy lifestyle choices.
Competitive versus Non-competitive Environment
Dance competitions are very popular and I do believe there is a healthy way for children to participate in competitive dance. I competed as a child and have also judged dance competitions. I have also seen the best and the worst of the dance competition world. Stay tuned for my blog on Dance Competitions.
Here is my advice for competitive dance parents:
- Choose a studio that’s focused on professional training, meaning the children are taking quality dance lessons, not just running competition routines.
- The atmosphere at the studio should be upbeat and supportive. No exceptions! If there is a lot of drama amongst the instructors, students or parents, leave!
- Save your money and choose one or two competitions to participate in. Also, limit the number of dance routines your child performs in.
- If your child is considering a professional career, go to the competitions and conventions where they could perform for industry professionals.
- Lastly, you do not have to compete in dance competitions to become a professional dancer!
Most studios offer a non-competitive, recreational dance track. The key here is to find the right class and teacher for your child. Sometimes studios put inexperienced teachers on these classes. My advice is to make sure the studio has a professionally trained teacher on all classes, regardless of the track. A non-competitive environment suits many sensitive, young artists and creates a space where all children can thrive.
When looking for a dance instructor, education, experience, and training are essential ingredients. Things to look for are certifications from accredited dance programs, college degrees, and professional dance experience. Theatrical unions, such as Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA demonstrate that the instructor has performed in professional venues.
Most studios offer performance opportunities such as dance recitals, competition teams as mentioned above, and showcases. Two things to consider are time and money. Performances require additional rehearsals for the children as well as costume fees and new dance shoes. I know some parents do not want to participate in performances, so for many reasons, it’s optional at my studio.
Drop in Classes or Full Semester Packages
I offer both options at my studio. I find that many parents appreciate the drop in option. The benefits of being able to drop in are great for parents who have children involved in many different activities or are unsure if their child is going to like taking dance. The benefits of paying for a full semester is the convenience of taking care of tuition upfront so that you do not have to think about weekly payments. It is best to choose what works for you.