Christian Parents' Guide to Choosing Children's Dance Studios
How Should Christian Parents Choose Their Children's Dance Studios?
Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 that Christians should think about "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is gracious."
But some dance studios, with a good number of them competing in secular competitions, have parents and children alike that think the opposite. How? Recital and competition routines are usually set to mostly immoral music, with immodest costumes. And those factors make the studio selection process problematic for most Christian parents.
So, what should Christian parents do? Let's list some important steps.
- Tour the Studio
- Look for Teacher Credentials
- Observe All Classes
- Watch Videos and View Photos of Past Recitals and Competitions
- Look Over the Dress Code
1. Tour the Studio
Obviously, a good dance studio has good flooring to absorb shock and mitigate injury to the dancers. Ideally, the dance floor should be floating or sprung—not made of wooden laminate over concrete.
"A floating floor is a dance floor that rests on a system of high-density foam, to absorb the shock of jumping," reads a post from Metropolitan School of the Arts, based in Alexandria, VA. "A high-density foam base is superior to a 'sprung' floor, which usually consists of a wood structure built on the regular floor."
There should be mirrors installed on at least one side of the wall as well as sturdy barres for ballet classes.
2. Look for Teacher Credentials
Ideal dance teachers often have certifications with dance examination boards and/or degrees from college. Most preferably, they should possess a proficient knowledge of human anatomy to further minimize students' risk of injury.
Also, look for their certifications - if possible - in health and safety around working with children. Make sure they are well-educated in first aid, CPR, and abuse (physical, emotional, verbal, AND sexual) prevention and awareness.
Also, look for teachers who value a harmonious balance of artistry and technique. One common complaint among some parents (and teachers alike) is that the amount of tricks, higher-than-average hauteurs (ballet term for leg heights), and multiple pirouettes often water the art of dance down.
If the amount of tricks in dance is your beef, feel free to invest in a non-competitive studio or a ballet school with a set syllabus like the RAD or the Cecchetti Council of America.
3. Observe All Classes
The most common genres youth dance are ballet, tap, jazz (including lyrical), hip-hop, and contemporary. Observe each of them if possible. Do each offer solid technique, thorough warmups, and combos to clean music? Do teachers teach dance technique correctly and use a correct term for every move? Does the studio offer entries to dance exams (a huge plus)?
Leslie Scott—hip-hop instructor and founder of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD)—used to be one of many teachers in commercial, secular studios that offer classes with combos set to age-inappropriate music. She felt uncomfortable with having kids take her classes in Los Angeles.
"I didn’t feel comfortable teaching them to explicit music and with these sexualized movements," said Scott. "After that, I had an epiphany. Coming out on the other side of this, I realized how damaging this side of the industry had been to me as an adult dancer and started to see how it was really affecting youth."
- Why I Pulled My Daughters Out of Ballet
This first-hand story of a Catholic mother transferring her daughters from dance to Jiu Jitsu (and later, a ballet school) is why you should observe rehearsals to get an idea of what music they are dancing to and what the choreography is like.
4. Watch Videos and View Photos of Past Recitals and Competitions
If you have permission (and funds), ask a faculty member to view a DVD of the past recitals or competitions. Most studios have web video accounts that allow you to view clips or even entire shows for free.
Not only do they allow you to know how their students have danced and what music have they danced to, but it also gives you an idea of what the costumes look like. So, if you can't picture your child in a bra top and briefs on bare legs dancing to a showtune from Cabaret or Chicago, then consider another studio.
5. Look Over the Dress Code
Again, look at each studio offering. In jazz, lyrical jazz, or contemporary classes, do the majority of girls wear bra tops? Do they wear shorts over tights? If you're concerned about modesty in clothing, chances are that the studio MIGHT NOT be for your children.
Typically, the ballet classes in the studios require a solid-colored leotard (usually and most commonly black) worn over pink footed tights. So, if you are regularly seeing girls wearing bra tops and booty shorts even in ballet classes on a daily basis, feel free to pick another studio if the sights of them make you feel uncomfortable.
"Dress codes for a recreational class will be less formal than for the conservatory or competitive classes," said Dance Informa columnist Emily Yewell Volin, "However, it is typical for a youth company format to involve a celebrated succession of color leotards that denote accomplishment of level. For example, the youngest dancers begin in ballet pink, the eldest and most accomplished dancers graduate to navy blue."
"Instructors must be able to see body alignment in order to provide essential body alignment information. Dress codes also ensure appropriate coverage and support of the body during class."
But consider what the children would wear in recreational dance classes, too. If the sights of girls wearing bra tops and booty shorts over bare legs in recreational ballet or jazz ones make you uncomfortable, choose another studio.
Examples of Christian-Friendly Dance Studios in Tampa Bay
If your child in Tampa Bay wishes to compete, its competition team prides itself in modest costumes and tasteful routines.
- Brandon Ballet
- Florida Dance Theatre - Home
Review: "Strong technique and the quest for quality dancing are always at battle it seems with the curse of today's movement pollution... if you know what I mean. Please tell your dancers how pleasant it was to see nice technique and presentation."
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