Choosing a Dance Studio
We believe an important aspect of dance education is teaching parents about dance as well. It is important to us that you understand what to look for in a dance studio and that your child receives training that meets your expectations. There are several key factors that every parent should consider before deciding on a dance studio for their child.
What type of dance environment is a good fit for my family?
Decide what you are looking for; dance can become an all encompassing activity for the entire family, but it doesn’t have to be. Studios can range from fiercely competitive to a more laidback recreational place to have fun. The selection of a dance studio that is a good fit for your family will be influenced by whether you want to focus on dancing as a competitive activity, participating in multiple performances each year and learning more about dance as an art, or simply dancing in one annual recital. Depending on the age of your child, it may be appropriate to determine if your child is interested in pursuing dance as a career. If you are not sure, we would be happy to talk with you about the different options. KSD provides recreational AND progressive classes – we never force or push a child to dance, because a great dance experience is born of an individual’s desire to participate.
What is the instructor’s training? Does your teacher have proper training in the genre s/he is teaching?
In other words, does the dance teacher teach what they are truly qualified to teach? You wouldn’t want a ballroom teacher to teach ballet, tap or jazz. What kind of background does the teacher have: (a) teaching, (b) dealing with children, (c) performing? Does the dance teacher still take classes to stay current and maintain/improve his/her dancing and teaching techniques? Keep in mind that not all teachers are great performers and vice-versa. And a college degree in dance is fine, but diplomas don’t necessarily mean the instructor has had the practical experience to pass on. Is your child’s teacher a great dancer or an experienced teacher? Instruction should emphasize dance technique and vocabulary, not just rehearsing steps. A good instructor will be able to teach people with different body types, skill sets and learning styles.
How are students placed in class? According to age or ability?
Younger students can appropriately be placed according to age; however, school-aged students need to be placed in class according to ABILITY. School-aged children placed in class solely based on age results in classes with different degrees of ability, forcing the teacher to decide to teach the class geared for the beginner, the intermediate or more advanced level of the class. At any rate, someone in class is neglected. Consequently, as dancers move through our levels, you may find that your child is not dancing with the same students they were with the year before. This is a good thing, no matter if your child is placed above or below their “friends”, as each child progresses at a different rate. So long as they are still enjoying their dance education, they are progressing at the level they should be. We do not want a child bored in a class that is too easy for them, nor do we want to overstress a child that isn’t ready to move up.
What type of dance floor is being used?
Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. Observe the dance floor! Dancers should NEVER be on concrete! Understand the importance of sprung dance floors – a sprung floor is essential for absorbing the impact of leaps and jumps and preventing injury to joints and bones. Other materials such as hardwood and laminate are dangerous for dancers. A sprung dance floor will visibly “give” under the dancer’s feet. The floor should have this shock absorbing material beneath a Marley surface, which significantly reduces falls due to slipping. The room should be spacious, with a high ceiling, with plenty of mirrors and barres.
What is the viewing policy? Is there a window, door or observation monitor?
There are two schools of thought on observation policies: 1) open door policy where parents can watch weekly; 2) certain viewing days. The disadvantage to weekly observations is that parents don’t necessarily understand what they are watching and they can misinterpret repetition of skills for lack of learning. The advantage to watching weekly is knowing exactly what is being taught and how. We believe that parents should be allowed to watch through our viewing windows; however, they must allow the teacher to do his/her job, without interruption. We find that some children do better when their parents are positively attentive and know how the child is doing in class.
Does the studio have technique classes through the majority of the year?
Studios stressing the importance of technique will have more talented and skilled dancers as opposed to those who rehearse recital dance for months and months. Most of the time, students who rehearse and rehearse and rehearse can only perform those rehearsed dances proficiently – but they lack the technique to DANCE – they can only perform the various “tricks” involved in those rehearsed numbers. Emphasis should be on DANCING and the individual growth of EACH dancer, not drilling a competition or recital piece.
Does the school participate in dance competitions?
If it does, do the students practice their routines during their regularly scheduled class time? While KSD offers competitive performance opportunities to all of our students, competition team rehearsals take place outside of classroom time. Whether a student who loves to dance is a recreational dancer or has professional aspirations, he or she should always be learning new steps while perfecting form and technique. Be aware that if rehearsals are going on in the classroom, less time will be spent focused on the skills that are adaptable to any dance.
Is the director and staff of the studio organized, friendly, approachable and are your questions answered fully?
Think about how your weekly interactions with the studio will be. Parents need to be informed easily and regularly of studio happenings. Bulletin boards are constantly updated and our office staff is available during class times to answer questions you may have. Meet the director and ask her your questions. You won’t regret it.
Look out for the hidden costs of dance.
Dance studios offer different payment structures, so compare tuition rates on an annual basis. Is a commitment to the entire year of tuition required? Ask about any fees additional to tuition – recurring registration fees, costume fees and recital tickets? Is there a recital performance fee? KSD offers package pricing, as well as sibling and multiple class discounts. We do charge a registration fee; however, it is a one-time fee the year you start. You will not be charged to register again, as long as your child continues dancing. Our recital fee includes rental of the Civic Center, a commemorate t-shirt for your child, as well as all invitations you need for friends and family. We DO NOT sell tickets or charge for programs.