How to choose a dance school?

There are many things to consider when choosing a dance school. It can be as simple as convenience. Where it is and is it close by and easy to get to? Are the classes at times you can fit in to your current commitments?

Dance styles

There are so many different types of dance and each one has its own unique styles and benefits that suit different people. So how do you choose between them? There are the more traditional classes including ballet, tap and modern jazz. But there are also newer styles including contemporary, street dance and commercial dance.

Do you or child want to learn a particular style of dance? Most offer a few combinations of ballet, tap and modern jazz. Others focus on street dance and commercial dance, which has a very different feel and vibe.

Some schools offer all styles whilst others specialise in specific dance genres. It could be suggested that it is usually best to choose a school that focuses and specialises with a few dance styles rather than one that offers everything, unless they are a huge company employing lots of teachers.

There is so much to learn and keep up to date about each dance style that generally it is hard for a teacher to remain current with technique and new steps, exercises or syllabus. So by focusing on a few similar styles they are able to specialize and stay current, meaning they can provide high quality lessons.

We teach ballet, tap, modern and musical theatre as this is where our strengths lie. Our classes are all taught by the Principal to ensure they all meet our high standards. We do enjoy having our qualified Guest Teacher too who can bring new ideas and styles to our classes.

Dancer leaping in a ballet tutu.

Qualified Trained Teachers

So you might initially choose a school because it fits in with your existing commitments. But it is really important to make sure that the classes are being taught by qualified dance teachers. Worryingly teachers in the UK don’t have to have completed any dance training or teaching qualifications to be able to teach dance! So you really need to look at and ask about their teaching qualifications and check they are from a reputable dance organisation.

Dance organisations and syllabus

The most well known international dance qualifications are the RAD, ISTD, IDTA and BBO. These organisations not only train their teachers in safe practice and technique but they also ensure that their teachers undertake regular CPD to remain current and up to date with safe teaching practices. You may find that the classes are slightly more expensive but you really are paying for their training and expertise. They will have learnt anatomy and safe practices for teaching children and teens as well as adults. If the school doesn’t use qualified staff they may unknowingly teach unsafe methods and movements that aren’t suitable for children or adults, which could cause injury or health issues.

The Royal Academy of Dance

The Royal Academy of Dance is one of the world’s most influential dance education and training organisations, internationally recognised for its attention to detail and technique. The RAD’s patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince George and Princess Charlotte take RAD classes, which demonstrates the high standards of the dance syllabus and training. Dame Darcey Bussell is the President of the RAD. Darcey Bussell is a former Principal with The Royal Ballet and the most famous British ballerina of her generation.

The RAD is one of the largest dance organisations in the world in 79 countries with 14,000 members. Established 100 years ago the RAD was developed by a group of dance professionals representing the leading ballet styles. It continues to be world renowned for its classical ballet examination syllabus.

Exams

When choosing between schools and academies you can also look at what they offer. Do they offer exams? Are they compulsory or optional. Check that the exams are accredited. The dance organisations listed above are accredited with Ofqal. With the higher grades they receive UCAS points, that are used to get into University. The fact they are recognised by Ofqual is a sign of a quality dance syllabus.

The RAD’s examinations are recognised by Ofqual and contribute to UCAS points, needed to get into University degrees. The English National Ballet School, the Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst Ballet school all take vocational exams with the RAD.

Continuous professional development of Teachers

High quality dance schools and Teachers invest in ongoing training and development to enrich their classes and bring out the best from their students. It is important to check that this is a feature of the dance school. Are Teachers relying solely on exam work or do they opffer new styles, workshops and experiences for the students? A sign of a creative and innovative school is the training they invest in and the opportunities they provide their students.

The RAD qualification includes training and assessments in child development, safe working practices and technique and performance. As well as this stringent training qualification all RAD teachers have to participate in 25 hours every year of ongoing training to keep their practice current and up to date. This means that all our classes are taught to the most professional standards in a safe teaching environment and our dance skills are up to date. The classes are innovative and interesting and promote a love of dance.

This year we have completed Silver Swans licensee training, First Aid training, Mentoring training and Mental Health training. We love to learn, develop and improve.

Uniform

You might also want to find out about the uniform needed and its costs. How many items do they need for each class? Can they wear the same items for every class or does the school ask you to purchase different items for every class, which can soon add up. Does the school offer a uniform purchasing system which passes on discounts to parents?

We order and bring uniform to class and even swap them for you if they don’t fit. We use a local company in Burton On Trent and support local business. We use our trade account to buy items and pass on the discounts to our parents.

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