When you’re looking for your child’s first dance class, or if you need a change of environment, there are several important factors to consider to select the best dance studio for you. To help you make an educated decision, we’ve listed some of what we think are the most important aspects to consider.
We believe the most important piece to consider when choosing a studio is their teaching philosophy. Different studios have different focuses, and it’s important to find a studio with values that align with those of your family. Some studios set their first priority at competitive success, others with training professional ballerinas, others with providing an inclusive and positive environment. You should get a feel for this based on the studio’s website and social media, speaking with the staff or instructors, and what you see in the building. Your dance studio may become an important part of your child’s life – and it’s important to make sure it’s an environment you feel comfortable with and instructors and staff that you can trust.
Quality of Instruction
Another crucial item to consider is the quality of instructors at the studio – the instructor will spend a lot of time with your child, so it’s important that they are well-trained in the dance styles they teach and are dedicated to being a positive role model for their students. Consider years of teaching or assisting experience, professional performing or choreography experience, dance-specific certifications and education, and college degrees. There are no legal requirements for dance studios or dance instructors in Iowa – so not every dance teacher or studio may be trained or certified at all. Consider if the studio itself is certified in any way or affiliated with other dance organizations.
Curriculum & Structure
In addition to having well-trained, quality instructors, it’s important that the studio has a clear structure and pathway through their leveled classes. Look on the schedule for how classes are structured – is it only by age, or by skill level, or a combination of the two? Each class level should have a consistent curriculum so that dancers in different classes learn the same material. A sound curriculum helps all of the instructors to be on the same page and guarantees more consistent progress for students. Consider how many levels there are and what the expectations are for how long a dancer will stay in each level. Some great questions to ask include: “How are the class levels structured?” and “How is level placement determined and communicated?” – some studios will have formal exams for placement, others will build progress reports over several weeks of class in the spring – find out how placement and progression is determined.
Class Styles & Programs
If you know your dancer is looking for a specific style, whether classical ballet or hip hop, check with the studio to see if they offer that class and how many different levels/classes for that style. Consider the degree of involvement you and your child are looking for – different programs may have various requirements for commitment levels in cost and time. If your dancer is looking to eventually be involved in a performance group or competitive team, it may be smart to ask about those options and requirements at the start.
Facility Features & Location
If you can, visit or tour the studio before enrolling in a class. Some studios offer a free introductory class to help parents and dancers make this tough decision. When touring the facility, ask about the type of dance flooring – sprung floors are essential to preventing injury. Your dancer will spend the most time in the studio rooms – and it’s important that those rooms are well-equipped and safe.
Dance is a performing art – and performances are an important part of any dance education. Ask about the number and type of performance opportunities throughout the season. Which opportunities are required or optional? Most studios have at least one recital in May or June, and may have additional performances such as Christmas shows or community events. Competitive teams usually have several more mandatory events such as extra rehearsals, performances, and competitions. Finding out early what is expected and what is optional will help you make a smart decision before you make the big commitment. Lastly, find out where the director or artistic director stands with age appropriateness in regards to costuming and music choices. If it’s possible, attend a performance or take a look through the studio’s social media or YouTube channel for examples of the costuming, music, and choreography they perform.
Choosing a dance studio for your child can be an overwhelming decision – we hope that these items to consider help you make a great choice for your family. If you’re looking for a studio, we’d love to share our philosophy and more information about class programs and performances with you – give us a call (319-377-5292) or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) any time!