There’s a right dance school and teacher for everyone
The art of dance is a multiple discipline, combining movement and music with an appreciation of painting, literature, history and sculpture. The dance teacher is an artist first, then a teacher. Not the other way around.The dance teacher infuses a child with a deep love of all the arts and must have a personal respect and love for the dance. The teacher should believe in it and live it.Parents must search out the teacher’s background, and the key is to determine if the teacher has a minimum of six to 10 years of training with a recognized and reliable dance program, or a degree in dance from a recognized college or university dance program.While professional stage experience is not mandatory, it is certainly helpful. But note, there are many fine teachers who have not danced professionally. A teacher with careful training and no professional experience is far preferable to one with extensive stage experience and poor training.When considering a dance program, be aware of teachers who proclaim efficiency in all dance forms (such as jazz, modern, ballet, etc.). Most highly qualified teachers limit themselves to only one art form – the exception being the pre-dance combination classes for children. If the studio offers several dance forms, be sure qualified teachers will teach them.An important consideration must be the instructional syllabus the teacher and the studio will follow. Parents should become familiar with the overall plan. For example, in ballet, there are a number of recognized syllabuses based on Russian, French, English, Danish or Italian ballet traditions, and any one of them would be appropriate. Some fine teachers do not wish to adhere to the rigid demands of just one syllabus, preferring instead to follow their own designs. There is nothing wrong with this, provided they have a sound knowledge of existing systems.The syllabus for most dance forms is the actual plan of instruction: the number of classes per day and week, the movements to be learned and followed, body emphasis and the yearly progression of skills. The syllabus should take the child from the point of entry into the dance world to the preprofessional level, a period of at least eight to 10 years.Hopefully this gives a little insight into choosing the correct teacher and school for your child. Remember to ask these questions outlined below:Learn about a program and its instructors– Can I observe the first class?– Is the school or studio giving the young children’s classes to the inexperienced teachers, and do they understand the expertise and knowledge necessary for teaching young children well?– Is the teacher trained and qualified?– Does the teacher seem aware of the physical, emotional, and social developmental needs of the students? Are each student’s abilities and goals being supported?– Does the teacher seem enthusiastic about the class? Is the class imaginative and varied in its approach to the material?– Does the teacher have a good understanding of human anatomy and proper alignment and use of the body? Does the teacher effectively communicate his or her knowledge?– Are the students grouped according to age, ability, and social development? Are class size and duration appropriate for the age group?– Does the class provide satisfaction and enjoyment? Does the teacher give time for movement exploration? Is required attire appropriate and comfortable?Visit facilities as part of your evaluationA good studio environment for classes offers the following:– Space that is clean, ventilated, well-lit, and free of obstructions.– A floor that is resilient and well maintained. A suspended floor is best to avoid physical stress. Floor space should be adequate for the class size and the age of the participants.– Adequate space for changing clothes.– Access to drinking water and restrooms.DeAnna Anderson is co-owner of Glenwood Dance Academy and artistic director of the Danse Arts Theatre company.
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