We have friends in the neighborhood who put their super active son in dance class because it's the only the only activity that keeps him in focus and moving for an hour straight - so I decided to check it out some classes for B too.Who knew there were SO MANY dance studios and schools in the area?!
A friend of mine connected me with Gretchen Vogelzang from Greater Washington Dance Center to help me understand what classes to select and what to look for when choosing a dance studio to join. Gretchen had a few key elements to look for:
What's their philosophy?
"The best thing you can do is to visit the studio in person and talk to the owner. Listen to how they describe their studio. Are they passionate or is this just a business to them? Do they put the children’s needs and safety at the forefront of their message? Do they love children? (Seriously… do they love children?!?) Or are they more interested in the status of the studio and it’s accomplishments?"
This is Serious!
"ANYONE can open a dance studio. Experience, knowledge and teaching ability are not governed. There is no licensing needed. When you think about the physical demands of dance training and combine that with a young, developing body the possibilities of sustaining an injury that could impact the child for life are very real.
As moms, we know all bodies are not the same! Alignment, flexibility, stature, strength vary greatly. An instructor who has no real knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology will not be able to understand these differences, and alter their teaching approach accordingly. Are there any cross-training opportunities for my child? Yoga, Pilates, Workshops, Intensives, Guest artists, Trips. You want to know the studio is up-to-date with their dance training efforts, and that they feel it is important to bring in artists or trainers from different fields to help your child receive a well-rounded movement education. Flooring is also key. Is it a state-of-the-art sprung floor? It should be!"
Smoke and Mirrors
"Beware of the smoke and mirrors! Boasting about awards is one way studios will entice you to join. The more important question to have answered is “What is the process of developing a successful dancer?” We have all seen the horror of over-the-top coaching on the television show “Dance Moms.” Yes, they have an award-winning team, but at what cost?
Observing some dance classes may be a good window into this process. Do the children fear the teacher? Is the teacher warm, but firm in guiding the dancers through the class? Does the teacher simply bark general instructions or does the teacher actually give individual corrections? How comfortable are you with the way the teacher treats the children?
Gretchen's final tip: The goal is to find a dance studio where your child can learn proper technique safely, be happy -- and your child can shine! Regardless of what they ultimately end up doing (professional performer or heart surgeon) they need the opportunity to become the best dancer they can possibly be. And, the bonus will be all of the wonderful skills they will develop – physical, mental and emotional - which they will carry with them throughout their life.
To connect with Gretchen Vogelzang and her team at the Greater Washington Dance Center, visit their web site or follow on Facebook.
Hi! my name is Andrea and I'm a not-so-average Northern Virginia blogger, mom, and transplant from the Midwest. I host Girls Night Out events, meet ups, and write about events and my adventures in the DC area. I love to travel, brunch, and drink wine with my neighbors! I'm known to live on the wild side and order Venti iced double shots at 5pm.
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