5 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Choosing a Dance Studio

If most dance studios seem to have qualified, friendly teachers, experience teaching children, and a big show at the end of the year, aren't they all pretty much the same? Does it really matter which place you decide to enroll at? Yes. There are 5 main things that can make a huge difference in the quality of instruction your child receives, the amount of extra work and hassles the parents must deal with, and the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved with a dance program. Here are 5 things every parent should consider before deciding on a dance studio for their child.

1. What type of dance floor is used?

Dance is a very physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on bones and joints. Most dance footwear does not provide any cushioning or support, so the shock of dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and back of a dancer. The best way to guard 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 foam, to absorb the shock of jumping. A high-density foam base is superior to a "sprung" floor, which usually consists of a wood structure built on the regular floor.

Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts uses a professional floating floor and hardwood floors. These reduce the risk of injuries and allows students to dance longer without getting tired.

2. What is the size of the class?

If the dance class has fewer students in it, each child will receive more personalized attention, learn more, and have more fun. With younger students, it is easier for a teacher to communicate with the individuals in the class and make sure each student understands the concepts and instructions. Our smaller class sizes make sure that no fundamental concept is being missed. A smaller class size allows our teachers to ensure that students are not developing bad habits or improper technique.

Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts limits all of our classes (ages 5 and up) to a maximum of just 15 students per class (studio 2 limited to 10 students per class). With our Petit Enfant classes (ages 3-4) we limit all our classes to a maximum of just 6 students per class.

3. What are the "extras" required for the year-end show?

Most studios put on a year-end show in a professional theater or high school auditorium. Students that perform in the show must have a costume for each dance number. Some studios may require parents to sew their child's costumes or pay extra performance fees. This can be inconvenient, frustrating, and expensive. Most studios also require parents to purchase tickets for recital performance night. In addition, valuable teaching time is spent working on the dance for the show (a 2 minute, 1 time experience), instead of on the dancing (developing skills for a lifetime of enjoyment).

Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts puts the emphases on dance education, and dancing becoming part of life-long enrichment for the individual student. Our year-end recital is an informal Closing Demonstration, which allows parents, friends, and relatives to see student progress and students to show what they have learned. At the end of the demonstration, we hold a reception for the students and their guest so they can share in celebration of their accomplishments.

There is a modest, per-family fee for this event.

Students who are interested in a more theatrical performing experience are invited to participate in rehearsals and performances appropriate to their age and level, which do not interfere with their regular class schedule. These performing opportunities include the Towne Players Christmas Show, and Lisa Taylor Dancer's performance group.

4. Who will be teaching my child?

The director at Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts believes that dancing is a vital part of a well-rounded education along with academics, art, and music. Because of this philosophy, the faculty at the Academy cannot teach whatever they want, but must be well trained in the Academy syllabi.

All teachers at the Academy train under the director and are required to follow the syllabi of the Academy. The director keeps a careful watch on student progress as well as maintaining the quality of the class structure and instruction. Students in each level are taught according to the syllabus specific to that level and receive the same lessons and technical and artistic instruction no matter which of the Academy's teachers is instructing the class.

Teacher training at the Academy includes developmentally appropriate syllabi, correct technique and application, age appropriate class management, and choreography, among other necessary elements. The director oversees all teacher training and apprenticeship and observes classes for the purpose of helping teachers to continue to develop their skills. Frequent conferences are held with faculty members regarding student progress and other issues that may arise.

Parents are always welcome to contact the director if they have any questions about their child's progress or their teacher.

5. How much can I expect my child to learn in a year?

Some studios push their students to learn too much too soon without regard to the physical and emotional development of the growing child. Parents must be very careful of this because permanent damage can be done to growth plates and chronic injuries can develop when students are encouraged to do more than their bodies are ready for.

Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts uses a graded syllabus that has been proven over decades to produce dancers of high-quality and accomplishment. Fine dance training is a slow process and care must be taken that all the fundamentals are fully learned before going on to big jumps and leaps, being lifted into the air, or dancing in "toe shoes." Student Progress Books help parents track student progress (Levels A-D), and all students receive Progress Report Forms in December and June.

Students examinations in which they demonstrate their accomplishments before internationally recognized examiners of the Cecchetti Method of Classical Ballet. These exams provide an independent source of evaluation of each student's progress as well as giving the student a sense of confidence and pride in accomplishment.

In dance training, the only race to be won is the one you have with yourself. Too hard and fast, too soon, and you'll find yourself out of breath with a cramp in your leg long before the finish line. In dance training, like the Tortoise and Hare, slow and steady wins the race.

At Lisa Taylor Academy of Ballet and Dance Arts, you will find careful attention to the individual training needs of your child, and lots of time for fun, too.