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  “I will take what I learn from my teachers at Dance Workshop with me for the rest of my life. Dancing has directly and indirectly molded my personality. It has taught me that doing something that I love can help make a difference in someone else's life. That is a great feeling!”
  Emily Blystone, student  
Asking the Right Questions When Choosing a Dance Studio
Choosing the right dance studio for your child can be a challenge. You want to find the school that will provide the type of opportunities and environment that is important to you and your family. Every studio is a reflection of the owner and/or director’s philosophy and personality. So it goes without saying – they are all different! So how do you find the one that is right for you?

Before you begin asking questions of a studio owner, you must ask yourself an important question.

Why am I sending my child to dance class? There are many varied reasons to take dance lessons. Are you considering the class to be a social, recreational activity for your child? Is it to build poise and self-confidence? Has the child or young adult expressed a desire for a career in dance? Is it for exercise and developing coordination and stamina? Are you, or the dancer, interested in competitions? Answers to these questions will help you to prioritize what features are most important to you when looking for a studio.

Now that you have had a chance to think about what you want from the dance studio experience, you will be better prepared to ask questions. Remember, there are many different dance studios to choose from. The secret is to find the one that most closely matches your expectations.

  1. What is the philosophy of the studio? This is a very important question and one that is often hard for the studio to verbalize. Are you looking for a studio that is focused on finding the rare student who is destined for the professional stage? Or one that emphasizes competitions and trophies? Do you want to find a studio with the objective of bringing out the best in each dancer, regardless of ability level? Does the studio believe that a smiling, happy student is more important than the perfect triple pirouette? Will the studio’s philosophy instill the desire and opportunity to better the community through their gifts and talents? Ask what the studio’s philosophy of dance education is and listen carefully to the answer. That will help you decide how closely it matches your own philosophy.

  2. Is the philosophy written down and shared with all of the teachers? The basic philosophy or mission statement is so integral to the educational experience that it is critical that it be communicated and understood by every person who comes in contact with the dancers. If the owner/director defines the core mission of the studio, but does not effectively communicate it to the rest of the staff, it is useless.

  3. What are the qualifications and tenure of the teaching staff? Teaching dance to children and young adults is a very different skill than performing dance steps. Make sure the teachers are trained not only in dance technique, but also in teaching dance technique. Look for a studio that places value on degreed programs in dance education or dance pedagogy from a respected school. The average tenure of the teaching staff is also critical. Teachers who have been on staff and working as a team for many years are more effective. They already know and understand the philosophy of the studio and the studio owner. In addition, they know the students!! They may have had the chance to work with the same dancer over many years and watched their skills develop and advance.

  4. What types of classes are offered? You will want a school with broad enough offerings that they will be able to accommodate your child’s changing needs and interests. A studio that offers lyrical and acro, as well as ballet and tap gives the student the ability to try out new dance styles without having to change studios. And what if they get the acting or singing bug? A studio that can offer Musical Theater and Vocal, as well as dance is a definite plus. What about the cheerleader who needs more acro skills in addition to her dance classes? Ideally, all of these classes are available under one roof.

  5. What is the average class size? Ensure that the classes are not too large for the number of teachers in that class. Often a very popular class will exceed the optimal class size. In that case, are you closed out of that class, or does the studio attempt to accommodate everyone wanting to take that class? That can be done by splitting the large class into smaller ones, or by assigning additional teachers to the large class. Either scenario will work as long as each dancer is getting the individualized attention that they need and they have enough room to get full benefit from the class.

  6. What is the studio’s atmosphere and environment? When you and your child enter the studio, what feeling do you get? Is the staff friendly and helpful? Are the waiting rooms and studios bright, clean and cheerful? Does each studio have the proper equipment and is it well maintained? Do the students look happy?

  7. How flexible are their class offerings? How many times a week are the classes offered in each age group and discipline? Do they have morning, afternoon, evening, and Saturday options, when appropriate? Can they offer something to the first time dancer, as well as the very accomplished and talented student? What if I decide I want private lessons for my child? Having a lot of different options will make scheduling easier for your busy family. It will also ensure that the class sizes stay manageable.

  8. Can I talk to some of the existing studio families? Take the opportunity to talk to some of the current students and parents. Talk to them in the waiting room. Ask for referrals at your child’s school or day care center. Go to recitals and performances. Ask for references. Find out what they like and what they would like to see improved. Take it all in and then make your own decision. What may be viewed as a plus for one family, may be a negative for another. If a school does competitions every weekend, that is a definite plus if that is a priority for you. However, if you are not interested in competitions, it will be a big deterrent.


Knowing what questions to ask can make your time and money invested in your child’s dance education pay off in the long run. Define what you want your child to experience, and then find the school that can satisfy that need.

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Shari Opfermann,
Owner, Director
Caste Village Shoppes, Suite M-101
Baptist & Grove Roads
Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Phone: 412-884-5099
Fax: 412-884-5294
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