A Prospective Parent’s Guide
How can dance benefit my child?
Becoming a dancer, a lifetime quest, involves more than talent, desire and discipline. These are the stones for the building of a house. They remain only that unless there is a structure, and that cannot be accomplished without design.
You want to take your child to ballet class. Where do you go? Because dancers need to be trained at an early age, the parents’ choice of a first teacher is central to their development over the years. Even if neither the child or the parents envision dance as a profession but simply are looking for an extracurricular activity, the choices need to be informed ones.
For human beings, dancing is as natural as breathing. We have forgotten this adults but not as children. Dancing gives us pleasure. It teaches us good posture and how to become more graceful. It establishes an awareness of the body, and an appreciation for what the body can do. It also aids in the physical and mental development of a child. It teaches discipline and self reliance. Ballet class offers children the opportunity to become aware of spatial relationships. Through the act of dancing we share our sense of well-being through harmony in motion.
Dance is for everyone who has an interest. Movement as communication is as old as humanity. It can tell a story, convey an emotion or simply lift our spirits .
Dance as a study has many benefits:
A greater understanding and acceptance of one’s body
Exhilaration from mastering new material
Increased flexibility and strength
Improved posture and graceful movement quality
Positive sense of self
Building strength and athleticism
How To Choose A Dance School
One of the hardest choices facing parents today is that of choosing a dance school for their children. Only a few years ago, it was much easier, but,
due to the tremendous growth in the popularity of dance in the United States, there are now a great many schools from which to choose. That’s good, because it means that more children than ever before will be exposed to one of the beautiful art forms in the world. Who can tell how many great dancers will be discovered because of this increase in the number of schools and students?
But it also has made it harder than ever for a parent to know where to send a child to study dance. There is no regulation of dance teachers or studios
in the United States. Anyone can open a dance school and call themselves a dance teacher! So how do you choose? What questions should you ask? And when you ask the right questions, what answers should you be looking for?
1. Check the background and qualifications of the Studio Director and Faculty.
It’s always important to make sure that your child’s instructors are qualified, especially where dance training is concerned. Ballet and dance instructors are not licensed in this country – anyone can claim to be able to teach your child to dance! Ask for information on the instructor’s background. Look for someone who has professional dance training, holds a degree in dance or a related field from an accredited college or university, or Professional Dance Teachers of America, Any of these is a good indication that the instructor knows what to teach, when to teach it, and how it should be taught.
2. Ask if combination classes are offered.
Some studios may offer classes that combine training in ballet with training in jazz, tap, and/or acrobatics. All in 60 minutes! Our Early Childhood Pre-Dance Program is the only level that incorporates multiple disciplines in an hour. At that young age, we have found it beneficial to allow students to explore movement and rhythm through the study of basic tap, creative movement and ballet fundamentals. When students enter a Level I class, they begin to study one dance discipline per hour or hour and a half they train. At In-Step Dance Center, we teach only one dance form in a class at a time.
3. Ask about the Annual Performance.
An end-of-the year performance is important! It gives a young dancer valuable stage experience, as well as the opportunity to use what they’ve learned during the year. Dance is, after all, In-Step Dance and Performing Arts Center, Inc, our year-end performance is designed to compliment your child’s classroom training – not replace it.
4. Visit the studio.
In addition to all of the things you would normally look for (clean, well-appointed, good area, etc.), check to make sure the studios have barres and mirrors. And most importantly, look at the floor! Dance should not be taught on surfaces such as concrete. Jumping on a floor that has no “give” to it can lead to shin splints, knee injuries, and other problems. Our floors are specially-laid wood floors designed to give the proper amount of “cushion” that dancers need. We love to have prospective students and their parents visit us. Just call before you come so we can be sure to meet you.