Your child wants to take dance lessons. What are some features you should consider in choosing a dance studio?
1. What's the Philosophy?
A major question to answer is, what is the studio's philosophy? Do they feel that "everyone can dance" and that dance is something fun? Or does the studio strongly emphasize proper technique and development? Find out what is expected of dancers at the studio: is it fine to take one class a week, or will your student be expected to take 3 or 4 classes to be considered "serious?"
You need to decide ahead of time whether you want a serious studio for proper training in ballet, for instance, or a more "fun" atmosphere where the kids dance to have fun and don't give so much attention to the details of technique. Which type seems like a better match for your child?
Ask the studio owners about their philosophy, but also talk to a few parents of students there. Often, the parents can give more "real" information as opposed to the party line given by the owners.
2. What Types of Dance Are Offered?
What dance style is your child interested in studying? Dance has many types: ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, lyrical and contemporary just to name a few. Make sure the studios you're considering offer classes in the dance style your child wants to learn.
3. What About Recitals?
Recitals vary greatly from one studio to another. Some studios have no recitals, others have informal recitals where students simply wear their class leotard, and still others have major productions with costumes and props. There are people interested in each of these options, so think through what the best choice is for you and your child. If there is a formal recital, keep in mind that you will most likely need to buy tickets to this, as well as purchase a costume and accessories (which can easily top $100).
Related to recitals are competitions. Some studios encourage or require students to participate in dance competitions. Find out whether this is the case with your studio. Will Saturday competitions be involved? Are there extra practice sessions involved? Will these work with your family's schedule?
4. What about Logistics?
Don't forget logistics such as your driving distance to the studio. It may seem insignificant when you're deciding where your child should study, but after weeks and months of driving there time after time, long drives become a definite factor in terms of time and fatigue. A nearby studio is a big plus for you and your child!
Another logistic is cost. Compare prices; there is wide variation in cost for lessons. It may take awhile to compare apples to apples because some studios may charge by the class and others by the month, but it's worthwhile to figure out your total price.
An unknown author has said, "You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart." That's true - but you will not regret taking the time to discover the best dance studio for your child.
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.