Finding a good dance class

February 27, 2012

Children and Teens, Dance, Exercise

Go with your feeling. If the class does not feel right, then it probably is not for you.

by Lynn Monson — 

You have decided that you want to take a dance class or maybe you are looking for a class for your child. How do you find one that fits your needs?

These three questions may help you.

1. What do you want from a dance class? Do you want to get in shape, have fun, learn about the art form or will it be a social outlet? Can you commit to once or twice a week, eight weeks or a year? How much money can you spend?

2. Where do you find classes? Look at private dance studios, parks and recreation, Boys and Girls Clubs, community colleges and schools attached to dance companies. These all provide various options in classes offered, length, price and even quality.

3. How do you know if it is a good class? The quality of instruction will determine the quality of your experience, regardless of your reason for taking the class. So, what to look for?

  • Teacher knowledge of the dance discipline is important. A good teacher will impart the skills and concepts of dance, including knowledge of the body, how to move safely, and use of space, rhythm and energy. These are part of the technique of any dance style and the concepts of basic movement.
  • Safety is related to knowledge of dance. The teacher should explain and emphasize how to perform the movement correctly, and not push students beyond what seems to be their capabilities. For children, safety also includes room setup, close supervision and keeping order.
  • A caring, comfortable atmosphere and the rapport the teacher creates with students and between students is very important. Also, the teacher should provide multiple avenues for learning and understanding, and help each student with the material by providing varying images and explanations for the movements. The teacher should help everyone and attend to students who are having trouble.
  • A comprehensive, sequential program may be difficult to assess, but the movements and activities should gradually increase in difficulty and make sense, based on what was learned before. The teacher should explain the connections.
  • For children, activities need to be appropriate for the age and development. For example, a 3-year-old should not be performing certain ballet movements.

To really know what you will be taking on, do some research and then ask to observe a class. If this is not permitted, walk away. If they have certain observation days, then proceed. (Constant observers can be disruptive.) Go with your feeling. If the class does not feel right, then it probably is not for you. Have fun searching, and enjoy the dance.


Lynn Monson is a dance educator and president of the Arizona Dance Education Organization.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 6, Dec 2009/Jan 2010.

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