What Should You Look for in a Dance Studio?
If you are a parent that grew up dancing, you are likely very knowledgeable about what to look for in a studio for your tiny dancer that is twirling around the house. If you are a parent that grew up playing soccer or tennis, you probably do not know exactly what to look for in a dance studio. So, whether you choose Main Street or another studio, below are some important things to consider as you do your research:
Young dancers can dance on most any type of floor and stay perfectly healthy; however, if your dancer sticks with dance through High School they will most like spend a lot of time in the studio. As dancers grow and progress, they learn a lot of leaps and jumps that are high impact. If they tap, their feet are striking the floor over and over. In these higher levels, dance can be very taxing on your knees and hips because of this. Proper technique (discussed below) will help keep the joints safe, however, the floors that you dance on are SO important. A lot of studios place a piece of marley over a base floor that is concrete. Some even place a cover over a commercial tile floor. Neither of these options are optimal. The very best floor for long time dancing is a floating hardwood floor. This is a floor that “floats” above the joists underneath. A floating hardwood floor gives a little every time you land a leap or jump. It is significantly healthier for your knees and hips, and over time, you can tell a huge difference in your joints if you have been dancing on a floating hardwood floor.
A tiny dancer may only dance for a year or two, and then they may move on to another art or sport. A lot of dancers end up falling in love with the art, and they choose dance to be their activity of choice through high school. When you are looking for a dance studio, make sure you not only ask about the Pre-school program, but look forward a little and ask about where the program is going. Each level should progress to another level, and there should be a syllabus of skills for each level. Even if you don’t know what the names of the skills are, ask what skills are taught at each level. You should be able to tell if the classes are progressing and if there is a structured curriculum.
COMPETITIVE VERSUS RECREATIONAL
Some studios have companies of dancers that compete, and some studios offer classes that are recreational, and they do not compete. Some studios offer both paths- Recreational and Competitive options. When looking for a studio, if there are both options available, you will have more options as your dancer grows.
In the dance industry there is a lot of turnover among studio teachers. When you are looking for a dance studio, be sure to ask about their faculty. “How long have they been with the studio?” is such an important question to ask. Studios who have long-serving teachers are generally stable and strong. The fact that their staff stays together year after year tells you that, most likely, they are a family.
AGE OF TEACHERS
Make sure you ask about the general age and experience of the teachers. Of course, you wouldn’t ask the ages of faculty, but make sure the teaching staff are not full of high school students who are not qualified to organize a class, lovingly handle discipline, spot a dancer that is having a negative experience, and individually watch the skill level of each dancer to know when to progress and when to go over things again
Most dance studios have recitals in the spring. Ask about how the recitals are organized. Recital day should be fun for the whole family. Ask about the length of springs recitals. (Some can be very long with the Pre-school dancers stuck backstage for a very long time.) Ask about the general price of the recital. Is there a separate fee for the recital? How much are tickets? Are there other expenses associated with the recital? Are there costume fees? Fees for tights? You will want to be educate on any fees associated with recitals!
It’s always a great idea to ask studios what percentage of their dancers return year after year. When you do this, don’t ask about the Pre-schoolers. Preschoolers often go from one activity to another from year to year. Ask about the Middle and High School students. Once a dancer is in Middle School, they are the ones that decide whether they stay with dance and with their studio. Parents usually make that decision when the dancer is younger. It is always very telling to see how many Middle and High School students stay year after year.