New to dance? What you should know

What Every Parent Must Ask Before Choosing a Dance Studio

Be careful, there are no licensing or certification requirements for dance studios or teachers. So it is important that parents choose carefully and wisely since improper training can result in malformed bones, improper muscle structure, chronic injury, and frustration for the student.

To help you in your selection, Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet has prepared these "Five Questions Every Parent Should Ask Before Choosing a Dance Studio."

1. How do I know I will receive quality instruction?

The first thing that a parent should consider when choosing a dance school is the quality of the instruction.For ballet, certification by a recognized dance association such as the Cecchetti Society, Royal Academy of Dance, or a college degree in dance is a good place to start, but it does not guarantee good instruction.

A good school will follow a carefully designed syllabus of instruction. In all dance forms, a good teacher is passionate and totally engrossed in the teaching and well being of the students.

Take some time and watch several classes. Watch not only the beginning classes where your child will probably start, but advanced classes as well. The true quality of a dance studio will be seen in its advanced classes where you will see the results of several years of training. By comparing advanced levels, the difference between schools will be obvious.

2. What should I look for in a dance facility?

A quality facility will provide a clean, neat, and safe environment and offer amenities such as comfortable parent viewing, adequate restrooms, and changing rooms. The single most important thing you should consider about a facility is the type of floor that is used.

Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. The best way to prevent potential injury is by choosing a studio with a "floating" floor. The best type of floating floor, and the one that is used by professional dance companies worldwide, is the "basket weave" floor. With this type of floor construction, there is a consistent cushion of air between the dance floor and the concrete sub-floor.

A vinyl composite floor is accepted worldwide as the best surface for dance - - recreational or professional. Vinyl composite floors are now standard for the dance industry. A vinyl composite floor allows dancers to slide, with a degree of controlled slip. It is not slippery so there is less risk of falls and injuries. Studios with tile or any other surface as a top layer on concrete floors should be avoided.

3. What about recital expenses?

All dance schools have a year-end recital. So there are no surprises, you should ask about the additional recital expenses. Some things to consider are: How much will I have to spend on costumes? Will I have to buy tickets, and how much are they? If you are not allowed to record your own video of the recital, how much will you have to pay for their video? These costs can easily run into hundreds of dollars and should be factored in when comparing the costs of different schools.

4. What are the performing experiences beyond the annual recital?

Aside from the year-end recital, most schools offer only a few if any other performing experiences. There may be performances at local events or there may be competitions. Students do enjoy these performing opportunities, but parents must be aware that participation in competitions will incur additional expenses - - entrance fees, costumes, and travel to mention a few. These expenses and their educational relevance to dance should be considered. In addition, these performing experiences do not give students a look at what it would be like to dance professionally. According to The Parents Book of Ballet1 performing with a Regional Dance America (RDA) company gives the dance student a professional-like dance experience. Finding a school affiliated with an RDA company would be ideal.

5. Can I get immediate assistance and customer service?

In many studios, the teacher or the studio owner conducts classes and handles 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, or the studio may have no customer service available if the teacher is in a class. To have a good experience, it is important to choose a studio that can address your needs even if a teacher is occupied in class.

1 The Parents Book of Ballet, Angela Whitehill and William Noble, Chapter 15

Serving Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco
Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet & Music
21 Aaron Dr., Richland, WA 99352  946-1531

Office Hours: 10am-8pm M-F
Sat 10am-3pm