Is Your Child Itching to Start Dance Lessons? Here are Tips to Find the Right Match!
Spring is the time when parents in Greater Boston start searching for summer dance classes for their movement-inclined kids. With offerings ranging from casual seasonal diversions to professionally focused year-round lessons and everything in between, the number of studios and styles can make the search overwhelming. And, because many studios now welcome children as young as three, new sets of parents are seeking help each year.
Finding the right dance studio for your child can have a significant impact on their dance journey and overall development. It’s crucial to consider various factors before making a decision, such as the quality of instruction, the atmosphere of the studio, and the style of dance offered.
If classical ballet draws your child’s attention, Koltun Ballet Boston‘s (KBB) Alexandra Koltun – a former principal with Boston Ballet School and Kirov Ballet – advises parents to visit studios with their child. She says students often find studios and teachers on social media long before parents get involved, so a personal visit is the best way for the whole family to understand the vibe and culture of the space.
Whether they teach ballet or other dance disciplines, some studios prioritize performance and competition, while others focus on fostering creativity and self-expression. KBB is one of the regional studios that offers both casual dance classes and a pre-professional track that has, for ten years, trained New England students in who have graduated into prestigious college dance programs and sometimes right into professional companies.
The atmosphere of the dance studio is also critical in shaping a child’s dance journey. A positive and supportive environment can enhance a child’s enjoyment and engagement in dance, while a negative or overly competitive environment can lead to stress and burnout. It is essential to observe the studio’s culture and the behavior of the instructors and students to determine if it aligns with your child’s personality and values. Ms. Koltun says her personal training philosophy has developed after years of working to balance students who come to KBB for exercise and those who want to prepare for professional careers. “I finally came to the realization that my students need to have fun,” she says. “It’s okay to have fun while also learning a new skill.”
According to a study published in the Journal of Dance Education, participation in dance has been shown to improve physical health, self-esteem, social skills, and cognitive function in children. However, the quality of dance instruction plays a vital role in achieving these benefits. It is essential to choose a dance studio that employs qualified and experienced instructors who have a deep understanding of the various styles of dance and can teach them in a safe and age-appropriate manner. A good instructor can inspire and motivate a child to pursue their passion for dance, leading to better performance and a stronger sense of accomplishment.
Moreover, the style of dance offered by the studio is a crucial factor to consider. Children have different interests and talents, and it is important to find a studio that offers the style of dance that your child is interested in and can excel at. Boston Dance Alliance (BDA) Executive Director Debra Cash says parents should start by taking cues from their child’s musical interests. Rhythmic forms like tap can excite kids who connect to beats in music. Creative movement classes encourage more freeform expression. Culturally specific forms like West African or Chinese dance can help kids explore their own heritage or others. BDA’s new Dance Class Finder lists classes, studios and teachers throughout Eastern Massachusetts.
Finding the right dance studio for your child requires careful consideration of various factors, such as the quality of instruction, the atmosphere of the studio, and the style of dance offered. Dance can have a significant impact on a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development, and it is essential to choose a studio that can provide a safe, supportive, and inspiring environment for your child to explore their passion for dance. With the right dance studio, your child can develop lifelong skills and a love for dance that will benefit them throughout their life.
John Michael Kennedy is an independent writer and consultant in the Boston performing arts.