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Dance Class Tips for First-Time Parents and Students

Tips for New Parents and Students

Back-to-school season also means back-to-dance season!  For those students who are attending their first dance class ever, the dance studio is an exciting yet unfamiliar world.  Here are some tips for parents and students to feel more prepared for their first steps into the dance studio.

Now that you’ve registered for classes and received your schedule, it’s time to prepare for dance.  The studio should provide you with their preferred dress code for your child’s classes.  If they haven’t you may want to check with them on their preferences.  A typical dress code for a young beginner ballet class, for example, is a black leotard, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers (for girls) or a white t-shirt, black dance pants, and black ballet slippers (for boys).  Some studios can be more or less strict with their dress codes, so it is important to check with your teacher, studio owner, or office manager (or the studio’s website, if they post it there) before purchasing any dancewear.

Dance shoes are just as important, if not more, than the dancewear portion of the dress code.  Every studio has different brand and style preferences.  Again, the dance shoe preference for each of your child’s classes should be communicated to you but, if it is not, you should reach out to the studio for direction.  If you have an old pair of shoes that still fit but do not meet the dress code, most studios will allow you to use them for a short period of time.  However, it is always beneficial to keep the lines of communication open between you and the studio, so they are aware of your situation.

A common question that first-time dancers ask is what to bring to class.  All dance students should have a dance bag that they will use only for dance class.  It should be big enough to at least fit all of their dance shoes and a change of dancewear.  Very young beginners should always have a change of clothes (leotard and tights, or underwear and dance pants) in case of an emergency.  Having a bag that fits all of their dance shoes, instead of just what is needed for a given day, ensures that shoes will not be misplaced and they will always have the correct shoes for class.

For older students, or those who have several classes on the same day, it is a good idea to keep a small, non-messy snack in the dance bag.  Many bag styles have several outside pouches to accommodate this.  Water bottles can also be stored in an outside pouch, or clipped to the dance bag strap.  Students who have breaks in between classes can also bring their school homework to work on at the studio, if necessary.  Some studios sell water and healthy snacks to their students, so having a few dollars on hand would also help for older students.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before packing snacks for your child to bring to class, it is important to ask if there are any food allergy concerns at the studio.  Some children with peanut allergies, for example, can be susceptible even if someone else in the room is eating a food item with peanuts in it.

The first day of dance class can make a child anxious, just like the first day of school.  For new students, it is a good idea to attend a studio open house or make an appointment to take a tour of the studio, familiarizing them with the dance rooms, changing areas, teachers and office staff.  Knowing and adhering to the studio policies, dancewear and shoe requirements can also reduce nerves on the first day.  Dancing is a means of socialization and interaction with other children, and it can also cultivate discipline, coordination, memory skills, and organization.

Best wishes for a wonderful new dance season, and welcome to all of the new students for this year!

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About Terry

Terry Finch is a dance teacher and choreographer with an extensive training and teaching background that spans 26 years. Terry has held a variety of teaching positions, from assisting instructors at her dance studio, to teaching at summer performing arts camp, and leading college level master classes. She is currently in her fourth year as a dance teacher at a studio in central Pennsylvania.

3 Responses to “Dance Class Tips for First-Time Parents and Students”

  1. On September 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm Stephanie responded with... #

    I really enjoy reading your dance blog posts Terry. I would love to read your advice on first time auditioning. My daughter is 7 and this is her second year at her studio. She started mid-season last year. She is currently taking her first ballet technique class and is eligible to attend a master class followed by auditions for the spring recital in a few weeks. My daughter has already asked to audition. I’m looking for advice for her on what to expect and how to behave. And I’m looking for advice for myself on what the environment will be like, how to best behave around my daughter (I’m sure I’ll be more nervous than her) and what expectations I should expect from the studio. I believe every girl who tries out will be a part of the recital and most likely my daughter will have a very minor part in it with a group of similar aged girls. Any advice you could give would be appreciated!


    • On September 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for your question, one that I’m sure has many dance parents out there who can relate. Here’s a great article from our blog that tackles a lot of your questions about the master class, and much of it can be applied to the audition as well. Inside Master Dance Classes

      Auditions are a very regular part of life for a dancer, and it is great that your daughter is starting the experience at a young age. The best advice I have after participating in hundreds of auditions as both a dancer auditioning, and also a teacher at the judging table, is to go at it with a positive attitude and encourage your dancer to simply be herself, try her best, and enjoy the experience. The audition is no reason to be nervous. It is an opportunity to show everything she has been learning in class and display her unique qualities as a dancer and individual.

      Recital tryouts are usually a way for the studio to assign students to a particular group dance or role, where everyone receives a part in the show. Roles are often assigned by age and ability level. At most auditions you can expect large numbers of dancers at the studio at one time, and this can cause some nerves to set in. It helps to inquire ahead of time what the audition will be like to prepare your student for what to expect. It is also helpful to arrive early so there is plenty of time to get comfortable and ready for the class/audition. Most off all, even if mom is feeling nervous for her dancer, it is important to keep your cool and be encouraging so that your dancer will feel cool too!

      Dancers will likely be brought in as groups and will be taught combinations or classroom exercises that demonstrate their ability and character for the available roles. Sometimes they are given the opportunity to perform something they have prepared on their own. Because each audition is different, it is best to inquire with the director as to what will be expected on the day of your audition, including what styles of dance will need to be demonstrated, and if there are any attire or shoe requirements.

      Sometimes a dancer may not get the exact role for which they had been hoping, and this is where it is important for the parent to focus on the positive aspects of the role assigned. Help the student be proud that they have accomplished something very special by completing the audition and that they will shine like a star in the role they have been given.

  2. On October 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm Kelly responded with... #

    Hey !
    I’m a first time dance parent, and my three year old daughter is starting the first week in November. I would like to say that this site has been the best thing that I stumbled across!!! To begin with my daughter is extremely small, and every dance store I visited never had her size, but I found it here for half the cost and got it in half the time! Between the great service and the informational blogs. I cannot thank you guys enough!!!! Is there any advice that you can give me so that my daughters transition into dance to be a smooth one.

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