9 Things To Consider When Choosing A Place To Take Dance Lessons
- Are the instructors certified?
- Certified instructors are well-trained and understand the proper way to teach you. They know how to eliminate bad habits from the beginning. There are a variety of certifications available to dance professionals. The most credible being those recognized by the NDCA (National Dance Council of America) and the ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing). An instructor who has undergone the rigorous training required to become certified has demonstrated the level of commitment, passion, professionalism and excellence that will translate into your learning experience. Know that people may belong to a dance society as a member (club type membership) without having received an accreditation from that society.
- How many instructors are available for you to learn from and does their schedule accommodate yours?
- Learning to dance well requires consistency with your lessons. If your instructor becomes ill, injured, is on vacation or away at a competition, will the studio be able to supply you with an equally accredited, trained instructor who can follow through with your lesson plan and dance program? Are the instructors in the studio full-time? Are the hours of operation convenient for your schedule?
- Do the instructors/studio supervisors/management help you set realistic goals and follow through as a team to help you achieve those goals?
- Look for a place that feels more like a school than a gym or community center. You should be able to receive private lessons, group classes and social dance practicing sessions all under one roof. Notice if the instructors all work well together as a teaching team, as you can benefit from the expertise of more than one professional.
- Does the studio have a curriculum and/or syllabus they can show you that outlines their method of teaching?
- A good studio should have a planned approach to your learning. A system that makes learning to dance fun, fast and easy. When inquiring what curriculum they teach from, make sure you investigate what they are talking about. If they were “trained” by a studio or a company who has patented or trademarked their methods, and they are using that curriculum without permission, they are violating federal trademarks and patents. It is also important to know that continuing learning and educational development is necessary to stay up-to-date with training methods and is not available to them within that borrowed curriculum.
- Does the studio have a policy in place to safeguard your privacy and comfort?
- Most professionals and organizations have a code of ethics regarding their behavior and conduct toward clients. Doctors and patients, therapists of any kind, even hairstylists maintain a friendly yet professional relationship with each client. Does the studio have a fraternization policy in place to protect the integrity of your relationship with them at all times? Does the studio have a policy to protect your personal information from sales or distribution to outside sources?
- Are there clear-cut service agreements, cancellation policies, billing procedures, etc., in writing?
- Keep in mind that formal written agreements are a protection for the client and the business. They help avoid confusion and misunderstandings about policies and services by having them in writing. If you are not provided with an enrollment agreement, there is no legal obligation to provide you any service. If you are paying a studio, then they are responsible for paying taxes as a business. If you are paying an instructor directly, anything you pay over $600 per year, paid directly to an instructor requires you to file a 1099 to comply with IRS regulations regarding paying private contractors. Cheaper does not mean lawful.
- Does your studio have a fraternization policy?
- A professional code of conduct is very important on the part of dance instructors. Professional objectivity is paramount for your best learning environment. Much like a doctor, lawyer or other professional, your instructors and studio personnel should never put you in the untoward situation of having a personal relationship outside of your professional one.
- How is the studio’s physical facility?
- Equipment is an important feature in a good dance school. Look for proper floors with cushioning for your joints as you dance, an up-to-date sound system with contemporary music, and proper lighting. The studio atmosphere should be nice, clean, have adequate mirrors, and also offer plenty of parking. Beware of lessons offered in garages, living rooms or other converted, non-dance specialized spaces.
- How many other studio locations are there where you can use your lessons?
- If you travel or move, does your studio offer the benefit of transferring your dance lessons to another location? If so, how many other locations do they offer? And do the company’s studios all use the same teaching system allowing for a seamless transfer of your program?
Before you invest time and money in dance lessons and yourself, ask questions. What are you getting? Who will be teaching you? Are they part of a credible organization? If not, why? Do they offer a sample lesson package? Do your homework and make an informed decision. It will help you protect the investment you’ve made in yourself, give you the best experience possible, and allow you to see how much dance can change your life (for the better!).