Choosing an appropriate dance school for younger children can be confusing - there’s so much to consider before you commit. So the following is some of the principal criteria which may be helpful for you in making your decision:
Most dance schools offer ballet, contemporary and tap. Therefore, if your child is interested in learning other styles, such as hip-hop, street, cheerleading or musical theatre, you will need to focus upon dance schools which offer a broader range of styles.
Teaching and Codes of Practice
Find out what qualifications the teachers hold and their personal experience as dancers and / or as teachers, particularly in the context of putting on shows and guiding pupils through exams and competitions.
Also, look at the number of pupils enrolled at the school. This is a clear indication as to how popular the school is. However, do check that the staff to pupil ratio is sufficient to ensure that each pupil receives adequate attention and tuition. Larger schools often have the resources to offer more classes with a more flexible timetable.
You might want to check that the school is appropriately insured and that it adheres to Health & Safety regulations.
Exams, Shows and Festivals
Is your child interested in taking exams or participating in festivals? Would you be prepared to see them in formal dancewear performing in local shows and events; perhaps even some further afield?
Look at the exam syllabus if there is one. There are a number of examining bodies, for example ISTD; IDTA; and RAD. Each child is different and while some enjoy the sense of achievement and progression through various stages and grades, others may thrive under a more relaxed approach. Look for a dance school with an exam policy to suit your child’s personality.
Precisely the same holds true for shows, festivals and competitions. Find out what type of events are part of the annual calendar. Performing for family and friends can be a real confidence booster for younger children and you can have enormous fun selecting costume accessories together in readiness for the latest show. Others may enjoy working towards more serious goals, such as national dance competitions.
Depending upon whether your child is hoping to make dance a career, or simply a hobby, it is a good idea to find out what former pupils have gone on to achieve.
Have students successfully pursued dance-related careers, either as performers or in related disciplines such as choreography or teaching? Have members of the dance school achieved success in national dance festivals, or appeared in high profile competitions?
For those interested in becoming professional dancers, choosing a dance school which is a known feeder for a national dance school may be beneficial.
Parents wondering how to find a good dance school will also benefit from doing some research online. Most dance schools now have their own websites and pages on social media.
These can offer a wealth of information and offer considerable insight into how the school is run, its general ethos and the reactions of the pupils and their parents. Pay particular attention to any photo galleries if there are any.
Ask yourself a simple question: do the pupils actually look as though they are enjoying themselves? The main thing, of course, is that your child is happy there and enjoys going to their dance school.