By Lesley Mealor / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)
After taking steps to assess your child’s progress in dance as we have written about in our article 3 Things Parents Can do to Assess Their Child’s Progress in Dance you have realized that your dancer is not progressing. Now you are wondering what you should do, and that is where we come in with a few ideas and actions you can take to ensure your dancer is learning and moving forwards in their training.
If your child is not progressing in dance you could add classes to your dancer’s schedule, seek additional outside training, attend a sample class at a new studio or even sign up for a convention where you will really see how your child fares with others of the same age from a variety of schools.
It is always a possibility that either the dance school your child is attending is not pushing your child to improve or teaching them effectively, but this isn’t always the case. Below are four different suggestions that can help give you direction as to what your next steps should be if you know your child is not progressing in their dance and ballet training.
1. Add Classes To Your Dancer’s Schedule
If your dancer wants to stay at their home studio due to friendships (and let’s face it, this is totally valid and understandable), but still wants more than the studio offers for their level, many studios will allow dancers to take technique classes with other levels while staying in their regular class for routines. Even taking one more ballet class a week can do wonders for advancing technique. Consider asking for private lessons if there are no additional classes that work.
2. Seek Additional Outside Training
Sometimes, you may want to seek outside training because your studio doesn’t offer certain styles of dance, or what is available doesn’t work for your schedule. You may be able to negotiate training elsewhere on the weekends, in the summer, or even online for additional classes. Of course, most studios will want their dancers to train exclusively with them, but if they don’t have the classes that you’re looking for, it’s time to find somewhere that does.
3. Visit A New Studio and Sample a Class
You may need to visit some other studios to compare the type of training being offered. This is often the final step you can take before deciding to change studios.
After several years at their first studio, dance mom Stephanie from New Jersey knew it was time for a change when her 8 year old daughter continually came home unhappy from dance class. She says, “We did a trial at [another studio] and my daughter felt like it was completely different. It was the structure she was looking for and wanting, the teaching and expertise just blew the other studio’s out of the water, and the level of dancers [here] is higher so it gives her someone to look up to.”
Aside from having your child take a sample class, you might find the opportunity to attend another studio’s recital, or check social media for videos of dancers from other studios.
Changing studios is a big step, so be sure to exhaust all options before committing to that decision. For more perspective on when it’s time to change studios, check out our article 10 Reasons To Leave A Dance or Ballet Studio.
4. Attend a Convention or Dance Intensive
If your studio doesn’t already offer the opportunity to attend conventions, many conventions allow independent dancers to come on their own to experience a variety of classes. In a convention setting, your dancer will be surrounded by other dancers in their age group. Most conventions allow parents to observe, so if you can objectively look at your dancer among their peers, you will be able to tell where they fall in the spectrum of ability level.
Be sure to speak to your child after the event to get their perspective. They may not be the best in class, but they may leave feeling inspired to work harder after they see other dancers their age with more refined skills. Or, they may feel disappointed that they are not where they would like to be in terms of technique or retention. Either way, it’s important for you to listen, absorb the information, and decide together what the plan of action will be.
Time to take Action…
It is important to remember that not every dancer will become the next big superstar, and not every dancer intends on pursuing a career in dance, but every dancer deserves to feel like they’re making progress in their craft.
If you suspect your child feels held back and wants to do more, don’t be afraid to take these steps to adequately assess their progress in dance.