Choosing a good dance school
What classes should beginners take?
Toddlers should start out with a friendly teacher that encourages learning
music, movement, rhythm, creative dance, and basics of ballet. Beginning
students should have a minimum of 45 minutes per week of ballet. Most
experts agree that Classical Ballet is the most effective method of training
a dancer. Broadway auditions start with Ballet.. Other styles like Jazz,
Tap, and Contemporary are based on ballet so you have to learn you basic
shills before you can go further. Avoid too many ³combination classes² where
students study Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Baton, Gymnastics, et cetera, all in one
hour per week. Even if you prefer or aspire to other dance forms, a good
foundation in Ballet training will help you to be the best in every class
Other forms of dance are optional and can be learned very quickly if the
child has good posture, strong core, control of her body, well-coordinated
arms and hands. Knowledge of basic positions, strong knees and legs, pointed
toes, balance, ability to spot while turning, and with a good plié, and jump
with strong pointed feet can make any style of dancing so much better. Many
times a good ballet dancer can lean most jazz, modern, tap and contemporary
dance in a year.
Who should be teaching my child?
Investigating the qualifications of a teacher is of utmost importance. The
best teachers have had great training and were well liked in their
professional careers. Only through their excellent training, professional
experience, and talent, can many teachers pass on excellent technique. A
great teacher should inspire and nurture. Teachers are only as good as the
students they produce. See if the teacher¹s students have gone into
prestigious schools or companies, have received scholarships to colleges, or
have become professional dancers and have successful careers. If your child
can arrive at a career they want and love, it will bring great joy to their
lives. So many teachers may have college degrees in dance but have not
performed professionally. Other teachers may have studied at local studios
but never studied in a professional situation. These teachers may not be
qualified to take your child very far. Many studios have classes taught by
teenage students. Make sure you know the qualifications of the teachers and
the reputation of the school or you might be wasting your money and, more
importantly, your child¹s precious years.
What about the dance studio?
Dance studios should have plenty of space for moving, great floors and
mirrors. The quality of the floor is extremely important for the safety and
performance of the dancers. Specially-built wooden floors called basket
weave or floating floors should be constructed by dance professionals. A
great studio will have special nonslip vinyl purchased from a very reputable
dance floor company such as Harlequin Floors. Studios should not have
concrete or hard wooden floors even if covered with laminate, wood, or
vinyl. All well built floors will have a small bounce to the floor if you
jump. This protects the students from injury now and many joint problems
How many students should be in the class?
Ideally, between 8 and 18 students in a class.. This depends on the size of
the studio. Larger rooms may accommodate more dancers. In an advanced level,
22 can sometimes be accommodated with an experienced teacher, whereas a
novice or teenager may not be able to handle eight.
What about performances or competitions?
Many studios participate in performances, festivals, or competitions.
Technique classes in all disciplines should come first; Extra classes or
rehearsals should be dedicated to preparing for performances. Serious ballet
students need to have at least three to five technique classes each week
especially if they are on Pointe. Competitions are not as important than a
well-choreographed performance. In a great school the performances should be
almost an equal to a professional Company for older students 10 & up. The
children learn stage presence along with many pieces of choreography that
really will builds a resume. Many professional talent scouts want dancers
and performers to remove all trophies from their resumes.
Life Skills: your child should gain posture, pose, discipline, dedication,
determination, a strong work ethic, be able to work well with a group, and
develop a love and passion for all of the arts. A good student should look
back at these years as a nurturing environment that offered the best in
training and performance experiences. Many students trained in a good school
with qualified teachers remember their childhood in dance as ³one of the
happiest times of their lives.² Most serious ballet dancers excel in any
profession and can feel comfortable in any interview or situation. They have
great posture, likable, quick learners and take any job with the greatest
potential to do well.