Choosing the right dance school is not always easy. There are many dance schools and studios out there and sometimes it may be difficult to decide or know. It may leave you wondering, which one is the best?
Here are some things to consider when looking for a good school:
• Does the school have large class sizes? Look for a school that will provide a lot of individual attention. You will find this mostly in schools with smaller class size limits.
• Does the school have a set curriculum? A good school will offer a good curriculum of ballet as a base which is supplemented with quality programs of varied styles and is delivered by a faculty of highly skilled instructors.
• How are their facilities? Do they have sprung floors? Choose a school that offers facilities with good floors to protect your joints and bones.
• Are the staff friendly? You may want to consider if the school’s customer service and how well they respond to your concerns.
• Does the school offer performance opportunities? A good school will offer their students quality performance opportunities as that is a vital part of a dancer’s training.
• Does the school have a dance company or performing troupe available to students and will it offer enough challenge as students advance?
• Also, consider what type of performance opportunities you wish to have. Would you prefer competitive opportunities or experiences on stage performing full-scale ballets and working alongside professionally minded dancers? You might be wise to take the time to view a performance and look at the school’s “products” before making any decisions.
• Viewing the quality of a school’s faculty and students in class and performance is a good way to determine if the school’s offerings are sufficient for your needs and expectations.
A good dance school usually provides a syllabus that should work in a coordinated base for most of the classes and programs offered, providing a unified training experience. The teaching faculty comes to know and understand each student’s strengths and weaknesses while gaining a clear understanding as to how to help each student achieve their goals. Don’t let a change of teacher disrupt your training within the program. Most good schools are able to quickly provide another good teacher (perhaps even another member of the faculty) who is familiar with the method that you are training and who can deliver your classes with the same level of care you have come to know. If the director of the school is also a qualified, experienced teacher he/she can pass along intimate knowledge regarding each student’s training experience, difficulties and assets so that you do not lose any momentum.
While “branching out” or “bouncing” from one school to another and visiting a variety of teachers can be exciting, ones inability to commit to a schools program can lead to a decrease in dance development. In other words, a dancer is attaining too many different training methods, stylizations, atmospheres or techniques to be able to make notable development or continuous improvements. Too many different teaching styles prove to be significantly disruptive to one’s training which may result in dancers looking unorganized, uncoordinated, undefined, unrefined or just plain sloppy.
There are few instructors that float from studio to studio, working in one location for short periods of time before moving to the next location. While following a single teacher from one location to the next may seem like the “loyal” thing to do, it may not always be the best choice for furthering your training and accomplishing your goals. Most teachers enjoy working in a coordinated effort as part of a team of quality instructors within a good school. Experienced teachers know that it takes such a team as well as dedication to a method or syllabus to produce good dancers.
Changing to a new dance school requires an investment of time to adjust to the new surroundings and new methods. New faculties require time to discover how to help the student best. During this adjustment period, the student may lack significant advancements. When new students come to California DanceArts from other schools we always inquire. We want to be sure that the student has given the matter significant consideration and that they understand the drawbacks to undertaking such a change. We have even sent students back to their home teachers! Be wary of the uncaring approach to training that does not ensure students have considered these issues and options carefully.
Don’t be a Dance Nomad! Once you have found a school that provides a home for your dance ambitions and endeavors, it is essential to commit to the program and schedule of classes that are offered. Improvements are made by a commitment of continuous training on a weekly and even daily basis within a structured environment and method.
To make your search a bit easier, you may want to see our report regarding “Six Things to Consider Before Choosing A Dance School”
Find out more at Caldancearts.com or call (818) 790-7924.
Aerin Holt is the Artistic Director of California DanceArts located in La Cañada, California. For over 30 years the school has been providing progressive and high-quality dance education to develop, nurture, encourage, challenge and motivate students in the pursuit of their artistic goals, aspirations and dreams.