For Parents

Is Your Dancer In Good Hands? Asking The Right Questions

11:49 AM

Following up from my article Finding The Right Studio, I realized some people may not actually have any idea what kinds of questions to ask studio owners or dance teachers, so I figured I'd put together a list for you.

You want to make sure your dancer is well taken care of, happy, healthy, and safe. So make sure you enroll her with the right teacher!

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On Credentials:

  • What school of training did you study? (French (RAD), Russian (Vaganova), Italian (Cecchetti), American (Balanchine, ABT, SAB), or Danish (Bournonville)
  • Have you been tested or certified in any of these schools?
  • What other certifications do you have? (good things to look out for are pilates, physical therapy, education, special education, childhood development, etc)
  • Did you go to University? What did you study?
On Injury Prevention:
  • What age do you put dancers "en pointe?" How long must they study before doing pointe? Is there a pre-pointe class?
  • How do you stretch your students out in class? (Look for whether they guide the students through stretches, or whether they use their hands to stretch them out themselves. Teachers should only manually stretch their students out in specific doctor-recommended scenarios). 
  • Do you use spin-boards in class, or recommend them? (More on this another day - spin-boards can majorly affect your dancer's turns, in a negative way!)
  • When you give corrections, do you give verbal corrections, or do you use your hands to adjust the student's body? (Hands-on is good, except in the case of a teacher forcing a student into a position that is dangerous).
  • Do you use negative correction (don't do this) or positive correction (try this instead)? 
  • Do the students go across the floor one at a time, or in groups? (there's nothing wrong with groups, but large groups don't give the student the opportunity to be seen by the instructor)
  • How many of your students have injuries? Were these pre-existing injuries, or genetic injuries, or were they caused by something that happened in the studio? (be wary of torn muscles, strained ligaments, or tendinitis)
  • What has the recovery process been like for them? Do they dance while injured, or take time off?
  • What is your dress code, and how strict are you?
On Goals
  • Do your students compete? How do they place? 
  • Do your students do group dances, or solos/duets/trios only?
  • Do your students attend summer intensives and other auditions? 
  • Do your students participate in community or professional theatrical productions?
  • What is your attendance policy? (some studios will not allow a student to return to class if they miss too many sessions).
  • How long is each class? (45-minutes is a sign of a more recreational school, whereas classes that are 60-120 minutes imply a more serious training center) 
  • How many classes a week is recommended for my child? 

  • How many productions do you put on a year?
  • What is your recital like? 
  • How many shows are there, and how many will my child be involved in? 
  • What is the average costume price? 
  • Do they rehearse in class-time, or during a separately scheduled rehearsal?
  • Are there other performance opertunitis outside of recital? (competition, community, gala, etc)

  • How do you reach out to families about announcements? Email, handouts, personally, phone calls?
  • Do you teach private lessons? What is the average cost/length of a private lesson, and how many students usually take them? 

What are some of the other great questions you should ask? Post them in the comments and I'll add them to the post!

Is your dancer healthy and safe? Learn more about keeping your dancer healthy here!

Photo credit (all images) gabrielsaldana via / CC BY-SA 

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