When purchasing anything, it is always a good idea to research the product to choose the one that best fits your needs. Choosing a service such as a daycare, swimming lessons, etc should be handled with the same care as any product. If you are not already well versed in the service you require, it is a good idea to have some assistance in order to make the most informed decision possible. For example, you may not know anything about the world of ice skating, but your child wishes to take ice skating lessons. Rather than signing them up any where, it is wise to research the type of facility for which you are enrolling your child.
Dance is no different. Even if your child has no desire to pursue dance professionally, it is still important to be sure you are investing wisely and you and your child have the best experience possible. This is a guide to assist you in finding the perfect studio for your family.
Dance is so much more than an art or a sport. It is beneficial for all ages for many reasons:
- Learning and experiencing team work
- Developing social skills
- Improving flexibility
- Strengthening muscles
- Learning about music
- Improve stamina and cardiovascular functions
- To express emotion
- Ignites passion
- Presents an opportunity to challenge yourself
- To discover new things about yourself
For the younger generations, dance also develops motor skills, an understanding of right and left, stimulation of imagination and creativity and learning to follow simple prompts.
A studio’s curriculum should address all of these things to best benefit their clients.
Is the appearance of a studio important?
Yes. Many would disagree and use the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” There are those few diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered, but more likely than not, the better studios have well maintained equipment, clean waiting areas, mirrors at the front of the room, etc.
Even if a studio is small, don’t count it out if it is well maintained with proper equipment.
What is considered ‘proper equipment’?
Ballet barres are a must have for any studio. Barres attached to the walls are better for safety, however the majority of studios also have additional portable barres in case of an overflow of students.
Another question of safety would be in examining the flooring of a studio. Marley floor is the best flooring available. It cushions dancers joints and has enough give to move with the dancer rather than against them. It is not too slick or too sticky, either of which can cause injury. There are other types of flooring with the same principle, but Marley is by far the best.
Sprung flooring is excellent as well. It goes underneath the Marley floor with the purpose of providing even more cushion for the dancer. It is not necessary as the Marley does well, but it is a nice addition should the studio have installed it.
A dance studio must have sound equipment which seems quite obvious, but be sure that the system is set with safety in mind. There should not be cords running anywhere that could cause a dancer to trip and the equipment should be reasonably sized, well maintained and out of the way of students.
Full length mirrors are also a must though some would disagree. It is very helpful for dancers to be able to observe themselves as they learn. It gives better body awareness, allows for dancers to make alignment adjustments and see the teacher at all times. If a teacher feels the students are relying on the mirror to watch others, all she/he needs to do is have them turn around.
Is something as minor as parking important?
Absolutely! When dropping your child off at dance, it is best to walk them safely inside rather than just slowing down and having them hop out of the car. In order to be able to do this consistently, having some sort of parking is best.
The faculty is the backbone of the studio. It is important to find a studio with great faculty who will fit your needs.
I don’t know what good faculty is. How do I know?
There is always a faculty page on the website. If not, call the studio to get that information. Look for qualifications such as years with the studio, years teaching, any affiliation with Master programs, etc.
Contrary to more traditional jobs, it is not necessary to hold any degree in dance. Dancers begin training at a young age and have the knowledge they will need to teach. Are degrees a plus? Of course! But they are not necessary.
Keep in mind that it does not matter what companies the person danced with, who they know in the industry or how many awards they have won. Just because a person is well versed in the art does not mean they are able to teach.
Look for well rounded faculty. Faculty who have both teaching and performing experience are the best because they present the students with correct technique and how to emote and perform.
Be careful not to judge by age. In this industry, age does not matter. What matters is teaching experience.
Another plus is having faculty who are a part of a master program. These are member based programs for dance instructors who must pass a skills test in order to join. They provide instructors with ongoing education, multiple resources and a chance for students to learn new styles.
What is a major red flag with faculty members?
The largest thing to watch for is turn over. If a studio has a high turn over rate, there is usually a reason. It could be anything from faculty leaving to pursue other opportunities to the owners treating customers and faculty poorly. Regardless of the reason, this is a red flag and something to check into. Be cautioned that an owner will not air their dirty laundry in front of a potential customer so keeping an eye on the faculty list is the best way to determine.