Your child could spend anywhere from one to 12+ hours at their dance school. That’s a lot of time! Maybe you and your little one are going to take Mommy + Me classes. Or maybe your child is ready to take on the full gamut of classical styles.
No matter your situation, it’s important to choose the right dance school. The following criteria can help you get started on the journey to finding the perfect school.
The Right Location
Location matters in a couple of different ways. For one, if your child is young and just starting in dance, you’ll most likely want to pick a school that’s close to home.
Consider, too, the neighborhood that the school is in. Consider whether it’s close to your child’s academic school. They may end up with friends from school in their dance classes!
If your child moves into a pre-professional track, it may be wise to consider a school in a more arts-centered city, like New York.
Of course, not every family can afford the most prestigious schools. That doesn’t mean your child has fewer opportunities available to them. Many of the top dance schools offer scholarships, and there are plenty of top-tier schools in cities across the US.
The Best Teachers
The right teachers can bring out the best in their dancers. But there are a few things you should consider when evaluating a dance school’s faculty.
Are they qualified to teach? Do they have a background in teaching? Have they taught dancers that went on to perform at the professional level? You can ask these questions in person or look at the school’s website for more information.
Are your child’s future ballet instructors classically trained? Did they attend an academy? Did their tap teacher train under big names on Broadway?
A teacher’s training and education are ultimately what gets passed on to their students. So you want to make sure you’re signing your child up to work with the best of the best.
It goes without saying, but dance teachers should have experience in their field. Try to balance your child’s commitment to dance with the experience of their teachers.
For example, pre-professional students should train under teachers with high accolades. Such teachers should have performed with dance companies or in top productions at some point.
If your child is less inclined to make dance a lifelong career, then this isn’t as much of a concern. As long as the instructors have years of performance experience to back up their teaching, your child should be in good hands.
Finally, you want to make sure your child’s dance school has a strong teacher-to-student ratio. Classes of 20 or 30 with only one teacher won’t make for an enriching or consistent learning environment. The more one-on-one interaction a student can have, the more quickly they’ll learn.
Think of it this way. A student could be in a large class with only one teacher. Because of this, they may not receive adjustments to their technique in each class.
Class after class, they may be performing moves incorrectly or building improper habits. Only until their teacher finally makes their way to them will they be corrected.
Check out a school’s faculty information page online to learn more about their teachers.
If you want your child to have a well-rounded experience, make sure their school offers sufficient course variety. There should be classes on everything from how to dance basics to pre-professional programming.
However, your child may want to specialize in just a few styles (like ballet, tap, and jazz). In that case, look for schools that focus on those types of dance.
Most mid-size dance schools will offer a wide range of classes in varying styles. Only if and when your child chooses to focus on one style will you need to reevaluate your school’s options.
A successful dance school should graduate successful students. If a school on your list of potentials has no recognized alumni, that should be a red flag.
Consider what your child wants to get out of their dance education. If they want to go on to be a professional ballet dancer, it may serve them well to work towards attending a premier academy. If they want to perform in movies and television, finding a school that has graduated dancers into that arena may be a better option.
Look into alumni news on the dance school’s website. If nothing is listed, inquire through their main office.
Before you sign any papers, make sure you tour each of the schools you’re interested in. Getting a sense of their facilities can help you narrow down your options.
Do they have spacious rehearsal rooms? A theater? Clean, crisp mirrors and well-lit studios?
Also, look for signs of wear and tear. Make sure their flooring can support the rigor and athleticism of daily dancing. Dancer feet can get hurt easily on the wrong type of studio flooring. You want a dance safe environment that keeps students injury-free.
How a dance school manages its administration can make a big difference in your life. Do they have a well-staffed office? Or are teachers working double-duty as office administrators?
What are their payment plans? Are their processes and procedures clearly expressed and easy to understand? Making sure a school’s administration is set up to run smoothly will make your life a lot less stressful.
This may be one of the most important tips on our list. The dance school you choose should host several performance showcases throughout each year. Also, they should offer opportunities to compete and showcase student progress.
The more experience a young dancer can get performing on stage, the better. This is especially true if solo dance opportunities arise. Try to find a school that nurtures performance experience. After all, if your child wants to pursue dance as a career, performance will be a huge part of it.
Find the Best Dance School for Your Child
The best dance school for your child will check off most of the boxes above. Keep in mind that these are just a handful of things you should consider.
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