5 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Choosing A Dance Studio
If most dance studios seem to have qualified, friendly teachers, experience teaching children and a big show at the end of the season, aren’t they all pretty much the same? Does it really matter which place you decide to enroll at? Yes. There are 5 main things that can make a huge difference in the quality of instruction your child receives and the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved with a dance program. Here are 5 things that every parent should consider before deciding on a dance studio for their child.
1. What types of dance floors are used? Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. Most dance footwear does not provide any cushioning or support, so the shock of dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and back of a dancer. The best way to prevent against injury is by choosing a studio with a professional “floating” floor. A floating floor is a dance floor that rests on a system of high-density foam, to absorb the shock of jumping. A “sprung” wood floor usually consists of a wood structure built on a regular floor and is good for specific styles of dance such as tap and ballroom. A high-density foam base floating floor is superior to a sprung floor especially for dance styles like ballet, jazz, pointe, lyrical and hip hop. The top layer of the dance floor is also an important factor. A vinyl composite “Marley” floor is accepted worldwide as the best surface layer for recreational to professional dance. Facilities such as the Royal Winnepeg Ballet, the Royal Academy of Dance in London, England and the touring show Riverdance, all use Marley floors as their dance surface. A marley floor allows dancers to slide, with a degree of “controlled slip”, but not slippery so there is less risk of slips and falls. Not all studios use professional marley floors because of the expense involved or may “cheat” by laying the marley floor over concrete or tile. Marley over a sprung floor is great, marley over a floating floor is best.
A. Our studio has all 4 rooms with floating floors. 2 rooms have floors approximately 6 inches off the sub-floor with 700-1200 high density foam blocks depending on the room size. The other 2 rooms are approximately 2" off the sub-floor. The surfaces of the floors are covered with a professional grade marley, with one room having a surface dedicated strictly to ballet, lyrical, contemporary and jazz. The variety of different flooring systems allows us to accommodate many different dance styles while, most importantly, reducing risk of injury and allowing students to dance longer without getting tired.
2. What will my child be learning? Many studios start their season and students are learning basic classroom etiquette, warm-up and basic technique or exercises “just for fun”. But with in a month or so they have started learning their recital dance and except for a short warm-up, they are letting their technical training go by the way side. Working on one dance for the majority of the year is limiting, does not give students the opportunity to expand their dance vocabulary and becomes physically stagnant. Technique training is the foundation and true education of dance and should be the main focus on for a good portion of the season and continued throughout.
A. Our studios emphasis is on education and technique. We believe that education of proper technical training is the most important factor in developing dancers. It enables them to progress at a proper rate and allows correct strengthening, toning and body placement which in turn will help prevent injuries as they progress to a more advanced level attempting more challenging moves. In our program the first 4 months or more (depending on the age of the students) are spent on proper technical training. Our season runs for 10 months which stills allows ample time to continue incorporating technical exercises once recital choreography has began. This is very important since technique must not only be developed but also maintained throughout the season.
3. How is my child placed in a class? If a student has no previous experience placing them in a class is usually very simple – beginner. But if a student has experience and previous training, placing them in a class can be more challenging. Many studios will place students strictly on age or experience level according to exact years of previous study or even accommodate requests to have “friends” be in the same class although they are at different levels. This can be detrimental to all students involved. Some students may not be challenged at all yet others may be in a class too advanced, teens may be in with elementary age children and so on. In all instances dance becomes a very discouraging experience.
A. At our studio we take class placement very seriously. Being placed in the proper class level and age group will give students the best possible educational environment. Current age, age of previous training, previous styles of dance studied, location of previous training and maturity of the student must all be taken into consideration. Class placement for an experienced student is made by an instructor, not office staff. We offer classes to accommodate almost every age group and experience level. If you are new to our studio, we will place you according to the information you give us about your previous experience. Once we have seen a student in class, we always make it a priority to make sure they are in the correct level class and with the appropriate age group.
4. What is the size of the class? If the dance class has fewer students in it each child will receive more personalized attention, learn more and have more fun. With younger students it is easier for a teacher to main control over the class and make sure each student understands the concepts and instructions. Smaller class sizes make sure that no fundamental concepts are being missed and allows our teachers to ensure students are not developing improper technique or bad habits.
A.Our studio limits our general classes (ages 6 and up) to a maximum of 12 students per class. With classes ages 3-5, we limit classes to 10 students per class and they usually have a teacher assistant as well.
5. Can I get immediate assistance and customer service? In many studios the teacher or studio owner conduct classes and does the administration. By trying to do two jobs at once, the class may suffer as the teacher has to use class time for customer service issues. Some studios have students or parents tending to their office during classes or may have no customer service at all and make you wait for "registration days" to enroll for classes. To have a good experience it is important to choose a studio that can assist you with details like scheduling, class enrollment or costumes at any time, even while the teachers are in class.
A. Our studio has office staff on hand during all regular class times so you can get immediate assistance. We also have daytime phone hours to answer any of your questions. You never have to wait for "registration days" with us. We understand that getting your fall schedule in order is a priority and we are ready to help you!
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