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The Pros and Cons of Taking Dance or Ballet at Two or More Studios

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By Sorina Fant and co-written by Samantha BelleroseB.Ed, Dip.Dance(Performing Arts)

In a perfect world, one dance studio would satisfy all of your dancer’s needs by offering a wide variety of classes, having amazing instructors, and flexibility. However, there are many reasons to consider dancing for multiple studios at once, but what are the benefits or pros and cons to doing so? 

The benefits or pros of dancing for multiple studios include exposure to different dance genres, types of instruction, and teaching styles which can strengthen dance skills. The cons range from contract issues, developing divided loyalties, scheduling issues, dance terminology confusion and the cost.

It is important to note that dancing at multiple studios can be thought about differently depending on the commitment required by the studios you are taking classes at.

For example, there are many studios that offer weekly drop-in classes or a series of classes where there is no commitment by the student to keep attending the class unless they have paid to do so. There are no competitions to go to, no recital to be involved in – the classes are to help mainly adult and professional dancers keep up their skills between work. There are very few cons to this type of lesson taking, and this model is not what is being discussed in this article.

This article is mainly focusing on younger dance students who are committed to a team or intend to do a recital or exams with a dance studio.

Contractual obligations

If you are reading this article and you have signed a contract with your dance school because you or your dancer is on a competition team you are going to find that you are not allowed to dance at another studio. You may find that many other studios will not allow you to dance at their studio either if you have made commitments to another dance studio as per their own policy. I would still say to read the article as it may give you insight as to what you are and are not missing out on!

For more information on dance parent contracts read our article here!

The Pros of Having the Opportunity to Dance for Multiple Studios

1. Exposure to different teachers and pedagogy

Young dancers can benefit from training with multiple dance teachers. This allows students to have exposure to a variety of personalities and teaching styles and has a direct impact on their dance skills, as well as their emotional development and independence. Many teachers educate using differing syllabuses and techniques and so dancers can be exposed to new ways of thinking and learning to dance.

2. Just Like a Summer Intensive, but it is all year long!

All dancers understand the benefit of dancing at multiple locations which is the very reason why dancers are encouraged to travel over holidays and during summer break to experience dance with a new set of teachers providing different experiences, techniques, and skills. Summer intensives are not only popular dance options, as children mature and decide dance is more than just a hobby to them, these experiences become an essential requirement for their progress and improvement. Having the opportunity to travel to a new city, or a new country, and learning from a new instructor are invaluable experiences for dancers. Dancing for multiple studios can give this same experience and opportunity to your dancer all year long. 

3. Access to more dance styles and classes.

Sometimes a dance school focuses on one style or area such as ballet and could be the reason why you chose to attend that studio. But your dancer may want to learn multiple styles that your home studio does not teach. Being able to attend classes at another studio can mean accessing styles and classes you may not otherwise be able to.

4. Access to more advanced classes and teachers.

Last year I (Samantha) lived in a small town which only had one dance studio! The next largest town was over an hour away. I would not have wanted to go there multiple times a week, but if I had found a class or teacher for my daughters that we believed would help them progress or help them achieve their goals we might have looked into this as an option.

Some professional ballet companies also offer associateships where a dancer stays at their base dance studio, but then attends workshops and classes at the ballet company several times a year. Many dance teachers encourage these kinds of opportunities for their students as the programs are quite hard to get into.

5. More classes means building mastery quicker!

Becoming a great dancer takes hours and hours of practice. Dancers that you would call talented do not become talented by taking one or two classes a week. They become talented by training especially from the ages of 14 almost every day of the week. There is a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something. And although many professional dancers will tell you that you continue to work on your craft every day to master it, getting to their level takes commitment and hard work. Therefore if your dancer is passionate and wants to make it at an elite level you may opt to do classes at two studios to enable them to train more often.

6. You meet more people and make more connections!

In the next section about the cons, we write about how being at two studios can be hard socially. But it is not always this way and when you are welcomed in at both studios it can be a wonderful way to make connections and friendships in the world of dance which may come in handy at any time – because sometimes it is all about who you know.

The Cons of Dancing for Multiple Studios 

1. Dance Terminology Confusion – Differing teaching philosophies, syllabuses and dance pedagogy.

But that’s not the way they do it at the other studio!

For young dancers, it can be especially hard to understand that there are different ways to teach and learn the same thing – especially in dance. Some examples of this can be found in ballet and tap. In ballet, some of the positions of the arms and feet can have different names depending on the syllabus or pedagogy you are being taught. The Ceccetti Ballet syllabus for example names the position of the arms when they are lowered and rounded in preparation as low 5th or 5th en Bas. This same position in many other philosophies of dance is named bra bar. This same issue occurs in tap dance, one teacher might call the forward hitting of the foot a slap whereas another calls it a flap, or a brush, or a hit!

This can be confusing for young dancers and can be frustrating for their teachers as well. This is a major concern for many teachers and a very valid reason for why they may have a studio policy for not allowing their students to dance elsewhere.

This might sound as though your teacher is holding your child back by doing this, and for some very astute dancers who are aware and interested in things like the history of dance or who are mature enough to be able to respect these differences in dance it can.

But for most young dancers whose brains are still developing much of their reasoning capacities, this policy tries to ensure your dancer is able to focus on progressing and becoming better and not being held up or back mentally by different names, labels, and ways of doing things.

A simple example is the teaching of mathematics in schools. Many parents feel inadequate to help with math homework because they don’t want to teach mathematics wrong to their children. In reality, they wouldn’t be teaching it wrong to their child, just differently and at the base of the issue the parent doesn’t want their child to learn the different way, in case they get confused and it causes problems at school. Although not exactly the same, not all people can cope with changes and differences like these and so dancing at different schools that use different language and teaching methods can sometimes not be beneficial when trying to obtain mastery.

2. Divided Loyalties!!!

Depending on the age of your dancer, dancing for multiple studios can be extremely difficult to manage! Every studio has an identity and a set of rules and usually a loyal following of students and parents. When you dance with another studio you can be seen as an outsider – never really belonging to either studio you attend as your loyalties are divided.

Members at a dance school also refer to their studio as their team and there may be social issues that arise for both the dancer and the parent when they know that your dancer is enrolled at multiple locations. 

3. Having to buy and own two different sets of dance gear or uniforms!

You will also find uniform requirements differ from studio to studio as well, meaning extra costs to you. This could include things like leotards, bike shorts, crop tops, and even shoes if one studio only uses a certain brand. A full tracksuit and bag or drink bottle are also uniform requirements for some dance studios which your dancer may need to own.

For the parent, this also means more washing of clothes and needing to ensure the right uniforms and clothes are ready and available on the right days.

4. Different studios different expectations!

Depending on the styles of dance your dancer is doing at each studio, the expectations required at both may not be too hard to navigate. For example, if they are doing ballet at one school but then hip hop at another, it is quite simple to ensure you turn up for ballet looking polished, but then know for hip hop you can wear your hair down.

But both studios will have different policies on many things such as photos, social media, fundraising, and more. And many of these expectations sometimes will not really affect your child, more so the parent. For example, if both studios expect you to fundraise, or be active in their private Facebook page or if you are expected to volunteer to make props or help bump in at recital time. As the parent – you really need to read into what you are getting yourself into!

5. Schedule overwhelm and clashes!

It is important to make sure that the need to dance at multiple studios is significant enough to add an additional location in order to not overwhelm your schedule and your dancer. Being organized and knowing on which day you need to be where is extremely important. As a parent, it is important to think about how much support you have around you to be able to make this happen smoothly on a weekly basis and what would happen if you were not able to keep the routine ticking over for a few weeks? Would you be overwhelming yourself?

6. The costs of dancing for two studios!

It is important as a parent to think about the costs that would be involved in dancing at two studios! Not only would you be paying for two different uniforms, there are also separate registration fees for each school to think about. Costs such as photo days for each school, recital fees, and the fact that you will be paying for double the costumes is another possibility to think about.

It is important to remember that many dance schools give their students discounts once they reach a certain amount of hours or classes at their school as well as sibling discounts and more. If you split your time between two studios you are more than likely going to miss out on these benefits and be paying full price for all of your lessons!

7. It can create an awkward situation with your dance teacher!

Lastly, teachers like to be proud of the results of their students. They essentially run a business and when students do well they use their examples to promote their school, teaching methodology, and lessons to encourage more students to join their studio. When they have students who are not just their own, this becomes a tricky issue for them are you their student or the other studios? If they talk about your accomplishments will this entice others to start going to multiple studios too which could actually mean they lose business if students end up leaving altogether? Their mission is not only to teach dance but to retain and gain students so they have a profitable business so they can continue to teach dance!

Take the Time to Figure Out the Best Option

Enrolling your dancer into multiple studios is not an easy decision to make and is dependent on the needs of your dancer. As long as your family is not under a contract with one studio, take your time in figuring out the best situation with one dance studio or multiple locations where your dancer can thrive for years to come. 

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