If most dance studios seem to have qualified, friendly teachers, experience teaching children, and a big show at the end of the year, aren’t they all pretty much the same? Does it really matter which place you decide to enroll your child? Yes. There are 4 main things that can make a huge difference in the quality of instruction your child receives, the amount of extra work and hassles the parents must deal with and the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of being involved with a dance program. Here are 4 things that every parent should consider before deciding to enroll their child in a dance academy.

1. What type of dance floor is used?

Dance Floor

Dance is a very special type of physical activity that requires a lot of jumping, which can put stress on the bones and joints. Most dance footwear provides little, if any cushioning or support, so the shock of dance movement can place a lot of pressure on the knees and back of the dancer. The best way to prevent against potential injury is by choosing a studio with a professional “marley” and/or sprung or “floating floor.”

“Marley” is a vinyl composite that is accepted world wide as the best layer for recreational to professional dance. Professional dance companies from Paul Taylor Dance Company to the American Ballet Theater, all use marley floors as their dance surface. A marley floor allows dancers to slide, with a degree of “controlled” slip, but is not slippery so there is less risk of slips and falls. Very few studios use professional marley floors because of the expense involved. For instance, a sprung floor with marley is estimated to cost $52,000 for a dance studio the size of room 110 in the Moscow Academy.

Floating or “sprung" floors, are specially constructed dance floor that are raised up above the normal studio floor surface. Some of these floors also have layers of high- density foam to help absorb shock.

All of Festival Dance Academy floors are either sprung/floating floors or are covered with marley. Some facilities have both.

2. What size class?

If the dance class has fewer students in it each child will receive more personalized attention, learn more and have more fun. With younger students it is easier for a teacher to maintain control over the class and make sure that no fundamental concepts are being missed. A smaller class size also allows our teachers to ensure that students are not developing bad habits or improper technique.

Class Size

At the Festival dance Academy we limit the size of our classes (ages 6 & up) to a maximum of 12 students per class.

With our “kinder” classes we limit all of our 3 year old “I Can Dance Class” to six students, and for our “Kinderdance 1 & 2” for ages 4 & 5, we limit the maximum number of students to just eight.

3. What are the “extras” required for the year-end recital?

Most studios put on a year-end show or recital in a professional theater or college or high school venue. Students must have a costume for that performance. Some studios require parents either to sew their child’s costume, pay extra and hire a seamstress or to purchase it at a cost anywhere from $40 - $85. In addition, some studios also charge admission to the recital!

At the Festival Dance Academy we charge a $25 per class Recital Fee. This fee covers everything including the rental of the performance hall, paying the theater technicians & costume coordinator, moving the marley floor to the performance hall, and for the COSTUME itself! Admission to the recitals is FREE.

*A note about dance competitions: Festival Dance does not, as a practice, take part in dance competitions. It has been our experience that, dance schools (usually privately owned, for profit operations) whose primary identity and focus is to compete in competitions, put young children at physical risk by putting pressure on them to perform – even when injured. In addition, much of class time is spent on rehearsing and not learning proper technique – also leading to potential injury.

Finally, dance competitions are extremely expensive for the families of dance students. Entrance fees and additional costumes for a single dancer run into the hundreds of dollars for a single competition. Parents are not only often asked to foot the bill for these competitions, but many also require time-consuming and labor intensive participation in fund-raising activities.

We will accommodate students who wish to compete at these competitions, but they must be at the intermediate or advanced level, and Festival Dance first screens the competition for reputability.

4. Can I get assistance & customer service?

In many dance studios the teacher or the studio owner conducts classes and does the administration. By trying to do two jobs at once, the class may suffer as the teacher has to use class time for customer service issues, or the studio may have no customer service, if the teacher is in class.

To have a good experience it is important to choose a studio that can assist you with details such as class schedules or billing & tuition questions.

Festival Dance Academies have full and part-time staff (in the Moscow office) available to answer your questions 5 days per week, generally from 8:00-5:00.

Festival Dance has a comprehensive website (festivaldance.org), so basic information, such as policies, the academy calendar, class & rehearsal schedules, tuition, and downloadable registration forms can be accessed 24-hrs a day.