When choosing a dance school, make sure that youresearch the different training programs they have available and that they coincide with yours and your child’sexpectations of what you are looking for. There are hundreds of small dance studios that offer recreational type programs, some which also offer participation in annual competitions. However, there are precious few schools which offer professional level training programs or who have qualified professional teachers capable of equipping their students with the level of mastery required by the professional arena. Regardless of what your child’s goals are, however, high-level instruction should always a top priority. Quality education in dance is the basis for a fulfilling experience on any level.
There is a Difference Between a Dance Education School and a Commercial Dance
Classical dance training is based on the study ofclassical ballet, which is the basis for the other styles of classical dance. Other types of “classical” dance training include jazz, tap, modern, flamenco, and character/folk/national dance. Schools of classical dance focus on proficiency, artistry and good taste, offering only one or two performances annually. Most of these kinds ofschools are organizations that show a clear vision and mission for their students with a strong artistic philosophy.
Commercial dance training generally consists of “Las Vegas” or “Los Angeles” style jazz—the kind you see in music videos, hip-hop, popping, and break dancing. They often offer lower-quality classes in the classical dance styles. These studios focus on producing multiple pieces for several competition performances a year, as well as a yearly recital.
Is There Really Any Difference in the Training from One Studio to the Next?
Well-rounded dance programs should offer an array of classes with the main focus on classical ballet: ballet technique, pointe, variations/repertoire, character, mime, choreography, modern, stretch/strength, Pilates, modern, jazz or even music lessons. All of these classes contribute to some aspect of training a well-rounded, well-informeddancer. Your child’s placement in a new school should be within an age appropriate training program.
Basic hallmarks of good training are:
- Proper placement and focus on correct fundamentals
- Emphasis on correct execution of steps, with focus on clean lines, strength and stability, rather than high kicks and flashy tricks (They will come in time with proper coaching).
- Technical proficiency of a majority of students in the school, not just a select group
- Students’ low occurrence of injury
- Success of graduating students in the professional or arts education arena
Will My Child Have Fun?
“Fun” can be a matter of perspective: momentary satisfaction can be had from running, dancing, jumping, with no real structure or training involved—just for the joy of it. But a longer-term sense of achievement, fulfillment, and freedom can be had through disciplined training of the body and mind. Hard work, focused attention, and continuing progress fill a need in us all for the satisfaction of a job well done. Achieving goals that seem unattainable at first, through steady training and commitment gives a feeling of great personal fulfillment. As a parent, you mustguide your child to see the difference between instant gratification and long-term achievement.
Will My Child Have an Enriching Experience?
If you have weighed all of the criteria, and you have done your research, you should find the right match for you and your child. Remember, that an enriching experience expands your horizons, opens your mind to other possibilities, and expands your view of yourself and the world around you. The fine arts, and dance in particular, can do just that in a very personal way through its innately physical nature, especially if you involve yourself and your child in a school or dance institution that has that kind of philosophy and mission at its heart.Natasha Brooksher Southwest Classical Dance Institute 2005 Brought to you by: Angie Stone, Prima Dance Academy, Studio# 905.425.2828 www.primadanceacademy.ca