Choosing a Studio
Choosing a Dance Studio
Lee Ann Womack sings, “And if you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”
There is great joy in movement, plus confidence, artistry, physical training and discipline from learning to express through dance…all wonderful reasons to provide your child with a dance education. When you find a good school with well trained, passionate teachers, your child is gifted with more than knowledge. They develop self esteem, sportsmanship, grace and sensitivity.
When you’re looking for a school, look at the students. Are they pleasantly challenged, or do they look disorganized or stressed? Are there students who have been there for ears and are there classes for advanced students?
Then look for teachers, trained to teach. Are they involved? Do they know all the students names? The best teachers are not necessarily the best dancers, but they must possess the ability to communicate, inspire and correct with a gentle hand. A dance education degree is a good sign, but even former dancer-moms make great instructors for the tiniest dancers, age 6 and younger.
An experienced teacher is essential to developing proper technique in all disciplines for older dancers. Be careful of how they pace your child’s education. Often teachers push young dancers into pointe shoes before their bodies are developmentally ready. Pointe work done too early can lead to major injuries and development issues, as well as really bad dance habits.
Corrections are an essential part of a dance education. Positive reinforcement is very motivating to young dancers as is goal setting and recognition of accomplishments. Is the studio inviting and child appropriate? Are there scarves, bean bags, etc…for young dancers? Is there a variety of engaging and lively music and a variety of dance styles to provide a balanced dance education? Are the students excited? While technique is essential to a dancer’s development, there must also be joy.
Are there performance opportunities for ALL dancers, not just the most experienced? Having no performance is like practicing for the big game and never getting to play. Quality schools integrate all the technical skills in the curriculum for the level and style of dance into a well choreographed dance for an end of the year performance which becomes a celebration of the accomplishments of the year. Done right, it is a wonderful experience that builds a tremendous sense of accomplishment, perseverance,and appreciation for hard work! And short, tightly presented recitals keep the audience happy too.