4 Things You Should Know Before Choosing a Dance Studio
If most dance studios seem to have qualified, friendly teachers and a performance at the end of the year, are they the same? Does it really matter where you choose to study? Yes. There are four main things that can make a huge difference in the quality of instruction you or your child receives. Here are four things to consider before deciding on a dance studio.
1. What type of dance floor is used?
The first thing to ask when choosing a dance studio is on what type of dance floor will you and/or your child be learning to dance. Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. Most dance footwear is does not provide any cushioning or support, so the shock of the dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and the back of a dancer. The best way to prevent against potential 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 rubber to absorb the shock of jumping and saves the body from absorbing that shock .
The surface of the dance floor is also an important factor. A vinyl composite “Marley” floor is accepted throughout the professional dance world as the best surface layer for recreational to professional dance. A Marley floor allows dancers to slide, with a degree of “controlled slip,” but is not slippery so there is less risk of slipping and falling. It also provides the optimum surface for ballet dancers to dance on their toes, what’s known as “pointe work.”
Our studio has a custom built floating floor that rests on over 950 high density specially made rubber blocks under the floor surface and a marley top surface imported from England and identical to that used by New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Our special floor helps reduce the risk of injuries and allows students to dance longer without fatigue.
2. What is the size and length of the class?
If your dance class has fewer students in it you or your child will receive more personalized attention, learn more, and have more fun. With younger students it is easier to maintain control over the class and make sure each student understands the concepts and instructions. Our smaller class sizes ensure sure that no fundamental concepts are being missed. A smaller class size also allows our teachers to be alert to bad habits and improper technique. This is very important for every dance student but absolutely vital to child students who are learning while they are still growing. This individual attention, the key to careful training, is crucial not only for the development of the student into a dancer but for the health and safety of the student’s body.
The length of the class is another vital point. For young children 6 and under a solid 45 minutes is the limit recommended. Ages seven through 12 a one-hour class provides a good time frame. However, for older children and adults a proper dance class will necessarily require more than an hour. To be able to transmit concepts of technique and to provide the aerobic aspects as well as offer specific critiques, more than an hour is required. When a dance class is limited to one hour or 45 minutes it may provide some exercise but it will not be a true dance class.
Our studio limits all of our classes to a maximum of just 12 students per class. With our preschool dance classes (ages 3-4), we limit to a maximum of just six students per class.
3. How is your Dance Program Structured?
For all dance students but particularly for the adult dancer beginning in the proper level assures progress and success. Oftentimes, adult classes are limited and a large number of students of varying experience and abilities are crowded into one or two classes. The teacher will naturally teach to the most advanced of the group leaving the true beginner and many others at a disadvantage. We have five levels of adult ballet starting from an introductory class for the absolute beginner up to the advanced level. We also offer beginner level classes in all of the other dance techniques available at our studio. And, of course, our children’s program is carefully graded and structured for age and physical development.
4. Are performing opportunities offered and what is the role of these performances in the student’s training?
Having the opportunity to be on stage and perform is an essential part of a dancer’s training. It is remarkable but true that whenever a dance student performs they seem to immediately improve. What is happening is that the dancer is testing the skills and abilities that they have learned through the performing process and gaining confidence through the experience.
Dance is a performing art, and while classroom time is essential, students need and benefit from the demands, excitement and reality of what it means to perform in front of an audience.
Every student at our studio is encouraged to participate in our year-end performance in a professional theatre which we strive to make a thrilling and joyful experience. This participation is optional and the emphasis is on learning and fun. Although we work towards the best performance possible all of our teachers understand that the learning and confidence building that is created by the rehearsal and performance process is the true goal of our end-of-year performance: as well as the camaraderie, excitement and fun everyone has.
We also have a performing ensemble for our more advanced students that participate in additional community performances in a variety of venues.