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NYMomma205

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Reply with quote  #1 
So due to a move to a new state, I had to take both my daughters out of their old studio. They'll stay out of dance for the rest of the year, and I plan on registering them at a new studio perhaps for a summer class, and def. next September. I have 2 littles, but my oldest, who will be 7 has been in dance since she was 3. This will be out 3rd studio. 

While I was happy with how our last studio was run from a business perspective, the moms in my area, seemed to think this place was the end all be all of studios, and while the largest and having the top comp. team, in all honesty, the recreational classes don't actually "teach" anything other then a recital dance. While my DD enjoyed going, they start teaching the recital dance in September, and then that's what they do EVERY week. Also, some floor work, but the teachers don't correct them. The recital dances are also recycled, and it's almost the same variation of the same dance for the 4-6 year olds with a whole bunch of shaking. My DD was probably only one of the few kids in her class that even knew the dance, and this was after doing it for 10 months! Our previous studio, did not start a recital dance until the end of Jan, and even then, the teacher actually used and taught them different dance moves and terminology, it's just that the studio was poorly run, so we left.

I've narrowed it down to about 3 studios, but was wondering when calling if I should ask the SO directly how the recreational classes are run, and if it's a "oh we learn a dance the whole year", run at this point in time.
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #2 
Is there any way you could have your DD do a drop-in at all of the 3 studios and then you could see for yourself how the class is run?  Any SO is going to try to sell their studio and emphasize the positives so you may not get an accurate representation.  Even one drop-in class can't give you a perfect representation but I think you'd get a better idea than asking the SO.
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NYMomma205

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Yes. All 3 offered a free trial class if I wanted. I know one offers it over the summer though, so perhaps we should def. check that out!
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peachygreen98

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If they have a way to observe classes, you can also drop in and watch a class (without your daughter doing it) to see how things are run.  (from the lobby that is.  You might not hear the corrections but you can get a feel for how the class is run, how order is maintained and what they are learning).  

For most rec classes you hope that they spend time on terminology and technique for at least the first half of class and then spend the second half starting in January or February on the recital.  If they are working recital from 5 minutes in, you probably are only learning a dance not how to dance. 

Also talk to some of the parents.  Most of the time you will see parents in the lobby for that age range.  They might give you a better understanding of what the class is like and when they start learning recital dances.  

I sat in the lobby and observed many classes before I changes studios.  I also had my daughter do trial classes in multiple types of dance.  She was 9 at the time so it was a little different (and she had to try out the classes for proper placement and approval) but I had a much better feel for the studio before I signed up then I did when I signed up at the first studio.

The 4-6 year age is tricky though.  Most of the kids that are in a rec type class at that age are just learning to follow directions and move.  I've found the classes start to get more focused and serious starting at ages 7-8 in most places.  By then the kids have more control over their bodies and have better attention spans/listening skills and memory repetition.  

My oldest jokes about the ballet recital for the pre-k to level 1 that it is really the same 4-5 steps in different orders.  There is only so much you can expect them to do in a group consistently and correctly at that age.  So you get a lot of tandue point, Plie', releve', souteno, (my spelling is awful especially in French) and maybe an arabesque.  

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dancingymnast

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYMomma205
Yes. All 3 offered a free trial class if I wanted. I know one offers it over the summer though, so perhaps we should def. check that out!


I would do a trial class now at all 3. I was looking for a new studio for DD last year. I started calling the studios on my list around end of March, beginning of April, and I felt it was too late. This close to the recital/competition dates, they are mostly focusing on practicing the dances, so a new dancer would not be able to participate.
And waiting until the summer might be too late. Some classes might be full, auditions for teams already passed(not sure if you are interested in competitions at all, but still), etc.
I think now is the perfect time to try them out, choose the one you like, and follow their recommendations for next year registrations/auditions/summer classes etc.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #6 
You could also look for a studio that doesn't have separate tracks for rec and  comp dancers.  I understand that there are places where that can be hard to find but I'd do a lot of looking before just assuming that you live in one of them.  
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5678StarMom

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYMomma205
Yes. All 3 offered a free trial class if I wanted. I know one offers it over the summer though, so perhaps we should def. check that out!


Our summer classes are ran completely different than the year round. There is no recital or anything like that at the end of it so they don't work on choreography at all. It may not be an accurate representation of the studio. Just food for thought.
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #8 
Go to their recitals in the spring.  They can be an indication of the quality of their programs. 

If every kinder-dance class has the same looking dance at recital, that says something.  If NONE of the children know the dance, that says something. 

As mentioned above, you're examining a difficult age though, keep that in mind.  Some children are still learning to follow directions, while some are learning multiplication facts so keep that in mind when attempting to judge the quality of the teaching by the students' movements and behaviors.

There are lots of things to consider.  Best of luck to you and your little ones!  
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5678StarMom

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidi459
You could also look for a studio that doesn't have separate tracks for rec and  comp dancers.  I understand that there are places where that can be hard to find but I'd do a lot of looking before just assuming that you live in one of them.  


This is a great point. My DD15 is at a studio that has a competition team for some of her technique, but they level dancers completely separately from their program and don't separate kids who don't want to participate. We have found that the ability levels are way more consistent and she gets better tech than at the previous comp studio she was taking at.

Also, the top 4 levels never have ballet tech time encroached on for recital dances. They rehearse at separately scheduled times on Saturdays after technique for a month or so before recital.
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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #10 
Now is the perfect time to visit. Like the others have said, you'll get an idea of how much class time is spent learning a recital dance vs actual instruction. If a ballet class is already spending 1/2 its time learning recital dances, run and don't look back. If it's a comp studio, are they running comp dances during technique classes? That's another red flag that the studio cares more about learning dances than learning to dance.

Also, I have to disagree somewhat with watching the recital as a way to determine the quality of instruction. I've been to recitals that look pretty amazing - although not necessarily from a technical standpoint if you look hard enough. However, that can be a sign that the studio spends so much class time learning the dance it is going to look good. On the flip side, we almost walked away from a solid, non-comp studio because the quality of the recital was less than impressive. However, the basic technique was there. It turned out that studio doesn't start teaching recital dances until March, and spends about 15 minutes of class time on that.

Finally, I wouldn't put too much stock in summer classes. At DD's studio, the strongest dancers are usually off at SIs - granted this wouldn't affect your children. Still, the number of dancers drops and the classes kind of morph into whatever level the majority of dancers happens to be. So Ballet 2 in the summer might be very different than Ballet 2 from Sept.-June. Also, some of the regular instructors aren't always there in the summer as they are off guest teaching elsewhere.

Good luck in your search.
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meatball77

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Reply with quote  #11 
If they've danced before and you just moved you will probably be able to find a studio to take them for recreational or technique only classes it's early February.  That alone will answer the question because they won't take her if they've been working on the recital since October.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #12 
We switched when DS was almost 9.  I called around to a bunch of places around this time of year.  We were looking for a comp team.  All the studios talked to us, allowed a tour of the space and then schedule trial classes in all disciplines but we had to wait until May when they were done with comps for the year. 
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NYMomma205

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Reply with quote  #13 
The 3 studios I'm looking into, don't have any room in their current classes. Actually, one did, but she didn't think she would be able to get me either of my DD's a costume in time. She did say they just started recital dances, and this was like a week ago. I know my oldest would be devastated if she learned a routine, but then couldn't perform it.

I do thank all the suggestions and maybe within the next few weeks I'll  ask to stop in. My top choice as of now, doesn't have a "competition" team, until the dancers are high school age. Until that point, there are just recreational classes and then what they call "performance" classes where you have to be recommended to get in them. Those classes also perform in a winter recital, which is nice, and the classes are more advanced obviously. Each class has a 2 way window, so at least then I can actually see what's going on.

The only way I found out what my kids classes consisted of was by me peaking in the class from the outside lol. They use to have close circuit TV, but once they re-did the studio, they took them out. But even when they had them, they never put them on.  One mom last year who I would talk to from time to time was irrate when her kids came home and told her (and after she paid for costumes) that all they did in class was the recital dance. Her kids started resisting wanting to go to class, and needless to say, they did't return this year lol.
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peachygreen98

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Reply with quote  #14 
If you do go check out the recital, look for progression.  The first "studio" my daughter went to I was horrified at the recital time (in all fairness, it wasn't a studio although the teacher had a studio too.  My daughter was taking class at the YMCA.  It was a good intro to see if she wanted to start dancing).  They gave out medals or trophies depending on how long you had been dancing there.  The girls that had been there for 10-12 years in some cases did not look like they had learned any more technique than my daughter had in one year.  I ran for another studio after that.  
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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #15 
Do any of the studios have older dancers there? If so that is the performance I would want to see. Our studio doesn’t do comps but they are recreational. The spring performance is a true original ballet and includes all dancers 9 and up. When you see it you can tell the level of skill they are being taught. If the older girls perform well you will know about the school.
As for organization that is something you can tell from visiting the office and asking questions.
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Lolalove

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Reply with quote  #16 
I ususually just ask the SO or at the front desk "do they learn recital choreography in class or another time?" The ballet studio, and we have been to a few, where my daughter is now, they learn all their nutcracker chores on Saturday or Sunday after any regular class they take. Therefore their entire class time is spent working On technique and combinations. This is the first time I've seen a huge amount of growth in my dd because she is working on technique for the whole 2 hour ballet class and not practicing her recitalndance over and over every class. Not every spdance school can do this because of studio spcace, time etc but it's made a big difference!
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #17 

For now, look for a ballet school to put her in.  Quite a few of them don't do recital costumes aside from their class uniform leo and maybe a skirt of some sort. Most also limit the amount of time spent on learning the recital dance. It would be a way to keep them in dance class for now. 

I totally agree on the recital issue. These places where they work on the dance.all.year.long can have polished looking recitals because they've done nothing else. When dd first moved to a ballet school, it was a bit of a different experience as they did not start working on the pieces for the recital until Feb or March and even then, it was just 15 minutes a week. Some dances didn't start until late March. 

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