Placement Information

The Faculty of In-Step Dance and Performing Arts Center is extremely careful and concerned when choosing the correct level class for each student. It is very important to remember that all students are individuals with very different talents, skills, and ability levels and they will not all progress at the same rate. In maintaining our high standards for a quality of dance education, it is therefore sometimes impossible to keep the same students together in a class year after year. Many students may need extra help and a slightly slower pace to help those master new steps that may come easily to others. This is carefully considered when placing students in appropriate class levels. The most important thing is that the student “enjoys” the class and “feels comfortable” in it and is “happy”. A “happy” learning environment is sure to yield progress. Remember, it is very common to see two children of the same age and with the same number of years of dance training with extremely different capabilities.

1. PLEASE DO NOT BE A “COMPETITIVE” PARENT and want your child in a certain class because you think it’s more advanced or a “harder” class. Class placement is the teacher’s decision. After all, that’s what he/she is trained to do. We cannot stress enough that since every child is not equally talented, they cannot all show the same progress rate.

2. ATTENTION NEW STUDENTS AND PARENTS: Please beware of using phrases like, “my child has had X number of years of training at X School of Dance and was in their most advanced classes. Therefore, he/she should be in your most advanced classes too!” This may or may not be true. There is no certification required in this country to open a dance school and because of this; the training and expectations range from school to school. In-Step Dance Center has established itself as an institution of “excellence in dance training”. In-Step Dance Director, Dana Loving-Sparks has a degree in Dance and is a member of The Professional Dance Teachers of America. Our other faculty members hold degrees in Dance or other teaching skills, certified to teach in their genre field, pursing degrees, or have danced and/or performed professionally.  Please give the Director and teachers the opportunity to observe your child in class, so that he or she may be placed at the proper working level.  We typically request that all new students entering our program allow their teacher the opportunity to observe them in the recommended level for the first few weeks.  If the teacher and director feel a level change is necessary, we will make that recommendation.  Please keep in mind that all dance schools differ in their approach to training and level placement.  We take our jobs as educators quite seriously and can personally guarantee that we take great time and consideration in placing our students in the most appropriate level for their development. 

3. PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT:   The teacher’s judgment must be respected first and foremost. It is normal for every parent to view his or her child as “the best dancer in the class”, but remember the teacher is looking at your child through trained, expert eyes. If at any time you wish to conference with your child’s teacher or the Director, please feel free to make an appointment.

4. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:  The number of times a student studies per week will certainly have an important influence on how quickly he or she progresses. For instance, a student who has studied jazz dancing for five years on a once a week basis may find himself/herself in a class with a student who has studied jazz for only two or three years but has also been taking ballet and tap classes. Naturally, the second student has been dancing more intensively and this will tend to speed up progress. Also, we sometimes find that many students who have taken ballet for several years are usually able to work at a higher level in tap and jazz than those that have had little or no ballet training. This is because ballet encompasses all the fundamentals of dance movement.

5. ABOUT IN-STEP DANCE COMPETITION COMPANY: In the past twenty years, the dance world has changed immensely. Dance competitions and conventions have become a major force in the dance world, and we feel (along with America’s other top schools) that when handled correctly without undue pressure, competitions are a fun and exciting way for the dancers to show off their abilities and hard work, to be educated by seeing other top-level students, and to become friends with well-known teachers, performers, and choreographers.

The Dance Company and Pre-Company provides this opportunity for students (ages 5-18) who wish to take part in an accelerated program of study, and also perform locally and compete regionally and nationally. New members are selected each summer and receive written invitations to join. Those who accept then participate in special one week Summer Intensive, study all forms of dance for up to ten hours a week during the dance year, and attend Company rehearsal Classes where they work on choreography, putting together the innovative and precise routines that they have become known for in preparation for performances and competitions.

In just a few years, members of Company have earned a national reputation as one of the top competition teams in America, winning praise from top professionals and other teachers for our technique, performance quality, costumes, and choreography. Just as important is the recognition we have received for our “age-appropriate” dances and for having the “nicest kids anywhere.”

Selection as a member of Company or Pre-Company is NOT automatic after a certain number of years of dancing. Instead, it is based on evidence of natural dance potential, hard work and concentration in class, a good attitude towards correction and towards classmates, and a high level of family support as evidenced by near-perfect attendance, little or no tardiness, and on-time tuition payments. These elements are crucial to succeeding as an individual member and for the overall success of the team.

6. CONCLUSION: We encourage all of our students to work hard to become the best dancers that they can be, but they must work at a level which is suitable for them. Many students are easily discouraged when they are placed in too difficult a class. We want dance to be a happy and glorious experience for each student.

Our goal is to educate the minds, bodies, and souls of our students and to teach them the skills needed for a successful life….whether or not our students ever desire to pursue dancing beyond our studio doors, we wish to assist in leading them down the right path to becoming outstanding people and citizens first and outstanding dancers second.


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