Over the many years I have been running a successful dance school it has always been evident that people choose to send their children to ballet & dance classes for many and varied reasons. A list of the common reasons can include promoting creativity, social interaction, fun, friends, team work, exercise, posture, strength, flexibility, grace, co-ordination, self-discipline, building concentration, developing musicality, promoting confidence, cognitive development, performing…. With such an impressive array of benefits all possible from a single activity one might think that parents would check the school carefully to ensure that the school is of a good standard.
Unfortunately at the time many children begin dance classes – often as young as 2 ½ , many parents are just looking at the most inexpensive and convenient option for their child to have a “bit of fun” As with most things though, many of the cheapest and most convenient options are not the best choice. The school or teacher choice is very important even at the earliest stages of learning. Parents usually put careful consideration into their choices of such things as early learning centres, schools, music teachers, swimming teachers and sports coaches. Parents should expect that the teaching given to their child is allowing them to reach their full potential and not handicapping them for future dreams and endeavours.
Sadly, with dance classes, many of the classes on offer are indeed just for fun and have little hope or intention of developing the technique, posture and detail which is they key to dance training. Some may say that this doesn’t matter if the child has no intention of becoming a dancer? My response to that, is to say that the value of learning anything at all comes from learning to do it properly – not badly or incorrectly. Would you be happy for the music teacher to teach your child the incorrect notes in a music lesson? Would it be ok to learn to spell only as it sounds? In fact, if you ask most children, they are very definite that they wish to learn things the correct way…. So many times over the years I have had to try and re-train students who had been learning for many years without progressing. These students often have had much potential but would have been better off starting from scratch that trying to unlearn incorrect or sloppy training.
Ok, so some parents may not wish to choose a school that has a good reputation for the fear it would be “too serious” and their child would have no fun. In actual-fact all good dance schools will offer a well thought out and entertaining pre-school program designed to instil a love of dance… and the children even at this early age will actually start to learn the basics of posture, musicality and dance steps. We offer these programs in the hope that children will be inspired to continue dancing, not as the quick cash grab which is the main motivation behind many of the franchise type pre-school classes now sweeping through every suburb.
So I implore every parent looking for dance classes for their child to check around and ask a couple of questions when choosing a dance class.
Is the class at a real dance school or just a casual 1 off class with a catchy name?
Is the teacher qualified with a training organisation such as Cecchetti Ballet or RAD and do they have suitable experience?
Does the school show progression of training and opportunities if the child continues to follow a passion for dance? Has the school had successful students?
Can you find out from any other parents who have children in dance anything more about the school and teachers?
Most of this information will be available on websites and internet. Do a little research and hopefully your money will be well-spent and your child will reap the benefits of excellent dance training whether it is for a short time or for many years to come. Good Luck!
By Carmel Amelia Horsfield Principal of Carmel Amelia School of Dance