By Olivia Mode-Cater EdM / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)
The time has finally arrived: you need to change dance studios. Dancers decide to leave their studios for a litany of reasons — maybe they’ve outgrown the studio, want to experiment with a different style, or encountered challenges with their teacher. Whatever the reason, it’s perfectly normal to explore something new.
But how exactly should you select a new dance studio? Does the owner run the dance studio in a way that works for your needs? How can you ensure that your selection is the right fit for your dancer?
While no one has a crystal ball to predict the future, there are a few key questions that you can ask to determine whether or not a dance studio you’re considering is the right choice. In this guide, we’ll walk through each of these questions and what they reveal about the dance studio.
Here are the best questions to ask when looking for a new dance or ballet studio for your dancer to attend:
- How long have you been teaching dance?
- What style of dance do you specialize in?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- Do you offer virtual classes?
Changing studios is a major shift for any dancer’s career, which is why taking the time to find the right fit is crucial. With these questions, you’ll be able to fairly compare your options and make the best choice. Let’s get started!
Question #1: How long have you been teaching dance?
This question is a great way to begin learning more about the instructor’s experience. While it’s true that great teachers might only have a few years of experience, it’s still important to assess how long the instructor has been teaching and dancing. Let’s break down what else this question can tell you:
- Experience level: Depending on your dancer’s skill level, you might need a teacher who is the local expert in ballet or tap or who specializes in a certain age group. However, don’t necessarily rule out a dance teacher just because they don’t have thirty years of experience — keep other accolades in mind, such as the instructor’s own performance history, their education and certifications, etc.
- Professional experience: A great dance teacher isn’t only skilled in dance — they should also be experienced business owners. From dealing with dance parent contracts to maintaining the studio, dance studio owners need to handle a lot of logistics. You want to be able to trust your teacher to handle the administrative side of things, so asking this question will give you a better idea of how professionally experienced this teacher might be.
- Involvement in the industry: Networking is essential for any artist, and the same is true of dancers. Knowing what organizations and associations your dance teacher is involved with can help you determine if this teacher has the right connections to help your dancer get where they want to go.
As you’re getting to know your teacher’s experience with dance, don’t be afraid to ask about other assistants or employees at the studio. For example, you might want to know if your instructor runs any employee coaching classes so that every interaction your dancer has with any teacher is beneficial.
Question #2: What style of dance do you specialize in?
Once you’ve gotten a better understanding of the dance teacher’s experience, it’s time to learn about their specialty. While most dance studios offer a variety of classes, some teachers specialize in one concentration. That’s why it’s important to see what your potential studio is known for and best at. This question is especially important if you’re changing studios in order to better serve your dancer’s interests.
Asking this question will show you:
- If the studio will help you achieve your personal goals: If your dancer is looking to become a professional ballerina, you want to have a studio who focuses on ballet training. If your child is looking to get into commercial dance, you want a studio that focuses on hip hop, contemporary, etc. Understanding what the studio offers, can help you decide if it will help you reach those goals.
- If you will get access to the type of opportunities you are looking for: Some studios are heavily involved in competitions. Others are focused more on community performances or fostering student choreography. Knowing the type of dance styles a studio specializes in, can give you insights to types of additional opportunities that will be presented to you.
- Growth opportunities: A professional career in dance often requires dancers to be able perform in multiple styles of dance. Perhaps you’re leaving your old studio because your dancer wants to add a new genre of dance to their repertoire. Explore and see how a new studio can add and enhance to your dancer’s previous training.
No matter the style of dance you want to learn more about, it’s important to have a supportive learning community. This contributes to a holistic learning environment that fosters camaraderie and teamwork.
Question #3: What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning about a dance instructor’s experience level and specialty can only tell you so much — it’s also important to get to know the instructor’s teaching philosophy.
Asking about a teacher’s philosophy can help you determine if your dancer will work well with the instructors. By asking about teaching philosophy, you’ll learn:
- What the classroom community will feel like: Each studio has a certain set of values about dance education, which trickles down into each class. You want to find a studio that has similar values in dance, because that’s where you will feel most comfortable and will be able to take creative risks. Asking about a teacher’s philosophy will give you insights to see if it is a match.
- What to expect day-to-day: Learning about an instructor’s teaching philosophy can also provide insight into what studio life will look like on a day-to-day basis. For instance, does the teacher focus on direct instruction or are there moments for collaboration? Do they incorporate mindfulness into their instruction? This will give you a better idea of what to expect when your dancer shows up for the first day of class.
- How the teacher approaches dance: Every instructor has had unique experiences with dance that influence how they teach. Ask about some of these experiences and use this information to better understand how the teacher will approach dance, especially for dancers who are learning for the first time.
Managing a dance studio is tough work, so what works for one teacher might not work for some dancers. But that’s okay! It’s better to realize whether or not your dancer is a good match early on rather than once you’ve already signed up for classes.
Question #4: Do you offer virtual classes?
Now that you have a good understanding of how this dance studio operates, it’s time to get into the logistical details.
According to DanceStudio-Pro’s top tips for dance studio owners, virtual engagement is an essential trend to follow in the dance industry. Not only do virtual classes offer convenience and flexibility, but they can also connect dancers from near and far. Virtual classes can allow your dancer to continue practicing even if you’re out of town or if they have a busy night of homework.
Even if virtual classes aren’t a top priority for you right now, it’s still helpful to know that the option is available to you in the future. Asking about virtual classes can also provide insight into:
- The level of flexibility with classes and attendance: Even if dancing is one of your top priorities, life happens and sometimes you need to miss a rehearsal or two. Asking about virtual classes will give you insight into the teacher’s flexibility with classes and if they would be willing to live-stream or record rehearsal in case of an absence. This OneCause guide to live-streaming can provide more insight into how these types of virtual events work.
- The teacher’s willingness to innovate: Because virtual learning is more of a recent trend, learning about a teacher’s willingness to incorporate online classes into their teaching practice will help you better understand the role of innovation in their teaching philosophy. Is this instructor stuck in their ways or are they open to new ideas?
Don’t be afraid to ask about other options for digital engagement, such as social media exposure. These additional opportunities are a great way to launch your dancer’s career and begin to generate public interest in their work for upcoming competitions or auditions.
Choosing a new dance studio can be intimidating, but by asking the right questions, you can make the best decision for your dancer. Be sure to gather all the details you need to make the best choice possible. Hopefully, it will lead to a fantastic dance experience. Good luck!
Further Articles in this Series
How to Choose the Best Dance School For Your Child: Guide For New Dance Parents
How to Search For & Find a Dance or Ballet School?
18 Things You Should Look Out For in A Dance or Ballet Studio!
Important Questions to Ask Your New Dance or Ballet School!
15 Signs of a Bad Dance Teacher You Must Be Aware Of!