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Young dancerHow to Find the Perfect Dance Studio for your Child(ren)

There are two main steps to determining the best dance studio for your family. The first is to decide on what you want and need from a dance studio, and the second is to find a dance studio that fits those needs. Doing these two things, and in order, means you won't be making a decision in a vacuum, but rather taking into account the greater picture and ensuring your choice will have legs.

Note: While this article focuses more on finding a dance studio for your child, the process works beautifully for adult dancers as well.

Print out this worksheet as a guide to assist you with identifying what you want and need from a dance studio.


Step 1: What will the perfect dance studio for your family look like?

Consider and answer the following questions. The weight of each of these questions depends somewhat on the age of the child in question, but all are important to consider.

Why does your child want to dance?

For example:

  • Does your preschool daughter want to be a 'ballet princess'?
  • Is your little boy a wiggle monster and wants to learn to spin on the ground?
  • Does your child love the idea of performing in recitals and in local productions?
  • Does she view dance seriously and wish to compete nationally and/or make it a career?

The motivation behind your child's desire to dance should absolutely be part of your decision.
 

What part do you want dance to play in your child's life?

For example:

  • Is your desire to help your preschooler better socialize with his peers? Become more active?
  • Do you want to encourage your daughter to be more disciplined?
  • Experience an art form that you grew up loving?
  • Develop a poise and confidence in her abilities?
  • Are you wanting to support your teenager in living a healthier lifestyle?
  • Strengthen your child's formal dance education with an eye towards dancing through college and into adulthood?

Getting to the heart of this question can make the difference in finding your perfect dance school. It can also make you aware of which desires are strictly for your child, and which are more for you - ie. "I want my girl to become a professional dancer because I wasn't able to do so myself."

Will the perfect studio be Recreational? Competitive? Professional?

Recreational dance schools are perfectly fine. So are competitive ones, and pre-professional ones. Different dance studios teach dance differently. Assuming that the instructors are properly qualified and the facilities are safe and comfortable, the best studio for your family may emphasize fun & recreation, work collectively as a group towards competitions, and/or prepare students for dance careers through disciplined formal training.

Which type of studio is right for your child? Consider your responses from the first two questions above, and also tune into your intuition. You can always change studios down the line as motivations and goals change, but choosing a studio that teaches excellent technique means your child will be in a better position if they decide to get more serious about dance as they get a little older.

Narrow your answers into a 'philosophy'

Use your answers to the questions above to create your guidelines for choosing a dance studio. Putting them into a one or two sentence 'philosophy' can really help you to glean the perfect school from the options in your community.

An example for 'Bella', age 3 -
"The perfect dance studio for Bella will be a warm, family-oriented place for her to enjoy learning and being around other children. This dance studio will offer a foundation of solid technique and training from which she can later build on if she decides to work towards a career in dance".

 

Step 2: Now for the Fun Part! Choosing your Dance Studio

With a clear understanding of your needs for your family's dance studio and your 'philosophy' in hand, you're in an excellent position to compare your choices. Use the philosophy you came up with in the previous exercise and the process below to discover the best studio for your family.

Feel free to print this free expanded worksheet to help you through the process below.


The DECIDE Process for Finding the Best Dance School:

  1. Define your 'perfect' studio –

    You’ve done this already (yay)! Keep the 1‐2 sentence philosophy you came up with in the first worksheet near to you through this exercise. Your goal is to determine the studio in your area that comes closest to that philosophy.
     
  2. Establish which are the best candidates in your area –

    Search by location and list below the dance studios within a range you are willing to drive. Consider that carpooling with other dance parents may be a possibility. Also consider that your child, as they grow, may end up taking two or more classes per week.
     
  3. Contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of each –

    Using the expanded listings found during your DanceClassDirectory.com search or the studios’ own websites, take notes on the criteria that are important to you.
     
    You’ll get the general feel of each dance studio from their website, but also take a look through their webpages to consider the following:
     
          • whether each studio is recreational, competitive, or pre‐professional,
          • types of classes offered,
          • facility pros & cons,
          • faculty experience,
          • class size, and
          • other factors that came to light when you defined your ‘perfect’ studio
     
    Also factor in testimonials, both those on the websites and what you may have heard from friends, schoolmates, and neighbors.
     
  4. Identify the best option after considering the advantages and disadvantages –

    You’ll likely be able to narrow it down quickly to two or three top choices. Do so if possible. Then come up with a couple of questions about classes or prices, and call each studio to get the answers. This allows you not only to get more specifics about the studios, but also to experience their customer service firsthand.

    Taking into account all you've thought about and learned (plus your gut feelings), decide which studio has come out on top.
     
  5. Determine whether it's truly the right studio for you by comparing it to the definition of your perfect studio –

    Studios often state their mission statements or philosophies right on their website. Comparing theirs to yours is an easy way to get a sense of whether you’re a good fit.
     
  6. Enroll in dance classes –

    You’ve made your choice, and now it’s time to enroll. Many dance studios have a ‘first class free’ offer. You may have noticed printable coupons on the studio websites when you compared your top choices. If not, it’s certainly worth inquiring about when you contact the dance studio.

Congratulations! You've made a thoughtful decision regarding the best dance studio for your family. May dance be as magical in your life as it has been in ours!