Special to GSN/Lucy Mulligan, iDance Studio & Performing Arts, Gilbert
So, you think you want your child to dance, but you aren’t sure where to start? Just as you would perform your due diligence before signing your child up for college, overnight camp or daycare, doing your homework before placing your son or daughter in a dance studio is of equal importance.
First, you’ll want to sign on at a studio that meets your child’s needs. Maybe you’ve got a beginner on your hands and it’s time to learn some very basic, elementary steps and techniques, or maybe your son or daughter is already a regular on the competition circuit and needs a studio with a well-established reputation for success. Regardless of whether your child moves like Fred Astaire or Elaine from Seinfeld, selecting a studio in line with his or her talents and aspirations is critical in finding a long-term dance home.
Once you’ve narrowed down the type of dance environment you’re after, take an equally close look at the instructors to make sure they are qualified and capable of providing motivating, age-appropriate training. Teaching dance is not unlike teaching science, math or how to drive; your child will get the most out of the experience and the environment if they have expertly trained and highly skilled instructors leading and motivating them along the way.
Also important is to determine the role the dance studio owner has in day-to-day training and business operations. Is he or she a regular fixture at the studio and someone that shows a sincere, deep-rooted interest in the success of each child, or simply a name on a sign or a picture on the wall? The success of a studio often depends on the owner’s own drive and determination, and an ever-present owner ensures easy access for parents and students alike who may have questions, concerns or ideas about performances or dance development.
Last, but certainly not least in terms of importance, is finding a studio that fosters a positive environment and a place where a sense of camaraderie exists among instructors, dance students and their families. If you look around the studio, do folks appear to be in good spirits? Does there seem to be good rapport between instructors and students? Even if you’re focusing on a professional or highly competitive dance future – and perhaps, especially so – your child needs to have fun and enjoy the learning process if he or she wishes to one day get there.
Whether you’re raising twinkle toes or a child with two left feet, the steps involved with finding the right dance studio remain the same. By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can take away most of the guesswork and instead of taking time studio-hopping, focus on training, growing and staying in step.