Choosing a Dance School
A simple guide to choosing a dance school for adult beginners.
Before we started writing this article we did some research into what other online sources were saying about choosing a dance school. We found a lot of articles aimed at parents choosing schools for their kids, and a lot of articles that made the process of choosing a school seem as complex as choosing a career or a university. At WikiDance we don’t think it needs to be that complicated so we wrote this simple guide.
Should I go to an Academy, School, Studio, Teacher or Class?
Like any industry, the dance industry has a lot of lingo and mumbo jumbo that can be confusing at first. We are sure somewhere you could find a technically accurate definition of what each of these things are and how they differ from each other. Typically however most ‘people that teach dance’ promote and refer to themselves as one of the following;
- Dance Academy
- Dance School
- Dance Studio
- Dance Teacher
- Dance Class
Often the name chosen has no relationship to the size of the teaching organisation. We know independent solo teachers who refer to themselves as a ‘Dance Academy’ and larger organisations of many teachers who refer to themselves as a ‘Dance Studio’. So don’t put too much weight into what the place is called. For simplicity in this article, we are going to just call everything a ‘school’.
What are the most important factors in choosing a dance school?
First, we want to say that the two most important things for a new person learning to dance are;
- to start – just get going
- to persist – just keep going
All the dancers we know have learned from many different teachers and schools. Where they started is often not where they ended up. They even change from one dance style to another over time. The important thing wasn’t that they picked their perfect school or style straight away; it was just that they started somewhere and they kept going.
It’s very important that you keep going and don’t give up. Remember that there are many schools and styles out there, if you don’t like the first one you try, you can always try another.
With that in mind, we believe that the following practical factors are the most important for new dancers to consider in selecting a dance school.
The hardest thing about learning to dance is not really the steps or the dance itself. The hardest thing about learning to dance is keeping motivated to stick with it during those first few early weeks.
Choosing a school that is convenient for you to get to will prove beneficial for your motivation and reduce the temptation to give up because it’s too far when you are tired, or its raining.
As with location, you want to attend classes that are practical for you. We don’t mean that you should only take classes that fit in around the rest of your social calendar, but rather that the classes are at a practical time for you to get to after work or on the weekend.
Styles the school teaches
Obviously if you want to learn a particular dance style, you need to find a school that teaches that dance style. However there is nothing wrong with picking a particular style because it is taught at a dance school which is convenient to you.
Word of mouth marketing is the ultimate form of marketing for a reason. If you can ascertain the reputation of a dance school in any way then this will be helpful in deciding if you wan to go there. However it’s worth remembering that bad news travels faster than good news and upset people want to talk more than happy people. Just because some people had bad experiences at a place doesn’t mean that everybody did.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, and community interest groups can be helpful here. For example search for relevant Facebook groups such as “Salsa Chicago”. Often the group members can give you good advice on what the most popular schools are for that style in your city.
Size of the School
Although the size of a school in terms of the number of classes they offer and the number of students they have is not always an accurate indicator of how good the teachers are, it’s a pretty good indicator of how popular they are. If you are interested in technically sound dancing, then you will need to consider more than just size. But if you are interested in dance for social reasons then the larger schools would be a good bet.
If you have friends that go to a particular class, and you want to learn the same dance style as your friends, then it makes sense to go to the same school as them. That way you will know people there and even if you are in a different level or class from them to begin with, you will eventually catch up. Going to the same dance school as your friends can be a great motivator and help you get through the rough patches when you doubt yourself or feel like quitting. Also you will likely be more comfortable going to social nights that are with your school and your friends.
Dance Mumbo Jumbo
What about “dance philosophy” and “teaching methods” and all that other mumbo jumbo? These are the sorts of things we have seen other articles talk lots about. They make finding a dance school seem like a career choice.
We believe the best way to find the dance school that suits you is to try different schools until you find the one you like.
When starting out, you probably won’t have your own dance philosophy, so how can you even judge if you like the schools philosophy? You probably wouldn’t even understand what their philosophy was if they told you. And if you are thinking right now “what’s a dance philosophy” then that’s exactly our point.
It’s the same with teaching methods. Until you actually try a few classes you probably won’t know what dance teaching methods are the best for you. Over time as your dancing progresses, you will find it beneficial to try different schools in order to get a broader range of information and techniques. So it’s not critical to choose the perfect school straight away.
The Two Most Important Things
Remember, the two most important things are;
- get started
- keep going.
Comments and Questions
- Learn to Dance
- Getting Started
- Why Learn to Dance?
- Fear of Dancing
- Dance Myths Busted
- Choosing a Dance Style
- Ways to Learn Dance
- Choosing a Dance School
- How Long Does it Take to Learn to Dance
- Your First Dance Class
- Partner Dance Classes
- Partner Dance Class Advice
- Dance Shoes
- Learning Multiple Dance Styles
- Dance Style Guide
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