Choosing the dance studio that fits your needs is crucial to finding the right fit, but in order to make a good choice, you need to be able to ask the right questions. For parents who never danced themselves, this vetting process can be especially tricky.
First, ask yourself a few questions about what you want in a dance studio.
Do you want a school that focuses on dance as a fun after school activity? Do you want a dance studio that will prepare your child for a potential career in dance? Do you want a studio that has both tracks? [Note: Your needs may change as your child grows and progresses in dance.]
Are you willing to participate in a recital or performance during the dance year? How much are you willing to pay for this experience? [Have a ballpark number in mind.]
How do you envision your child’s teacher? Would you be comfortable with your little dancer working with a teenager or must the teacher be more experienced? Should the teacher prioritize dance technique over all else or should the teacher balance enjoyment and self-confidence with technique.
Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, you’re ready to do some research! First, hop online and check out the studios in your area. Take all the local studios into consideration.
Look at the pictures on the site. Are the students dressed in a way that you’re comfortable with for your child? Look at the facility. Does it look like a friendly and healthy atmosphere? [Yes, it’s possible these pictures are not from the actual facility and that these dancers aren’t from the studio either, but they can still give you an idea of the aesthetic of the studio.]
Look at the schedule. Do they have class options that can work for your schedule/dancer?
What is their price point? Are you willing and able to make this commitment?
What do they value? Take a look around their pages to see what is featured most prominently. Do you see competition wins and trophies? Do you see strong technique and alumni who have been successful? Do you see dancers having fun? There is no right or wrong here, but you want a studio that fits your interests.
Second, ASK YOUR FRIENDS! Word of mouth is the best way to find out a little bit about area studios. BUT don’t let word of mouth make the ultimate decision for you.
Now that you’ve found a few options, the next step is to e-mail or call to get more information. [Keep in mind that dance teachers start teaching when the average workday ends so many times you will need to leave a message and wait for a call back.]
Here’s a list of questions to ask to help you see if the studio meets the needs that you identified earlier.
Do you have classes for my child’s age group and experience? [For example: Do you have classes for a child who has just turned 3 with no dance experience?]
Can you tell me a little bit about the class and the teacher?
What’s your teaching philosophy? [A studio owner should be able to answer this question.]
What is the tuition for this class?
Do you have a recital? What type of extra fees are associated with participation?
[If you have a dancer ages 6+] Does your studio do competitions? [And if you’re interested in participating] How does the process work and what are the average fees involved?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a breath. Dance is a world unto itself, but it can also be very accessible if you find the right fit.