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Dance dads choose well

Momentum Dance StudioOk, so maybe you have a child that dances around the living room as soon as they hear music on the TV. Perhaps your little girl or boy always dances down the street instead of walks. Or your boy just can’t sit still and has discovered he can spin on his head on your floorboards. Sound familiar?

Well, it’s time to admit it – you have a dancer in the house!

Like it or not, you have two options. Ignore it or embrace it. If you have chosen to embrace it (lets be honest – it was never really a choice) this article will hopefully help you to embrace it in the most positive and enjoyable way for both you and your child. Dance can be an extremely positive influence on a child not only as physical exercise but also for self expression, confidence and personal discipline.

Momentum Dance StudioIt’s no wonder that dance tuition in Australia is on the rise for both boys and girls. Thanks to television programs like So You Think You Can Dance, Glee and a string of dance based films in the cinema, many parents are going online to find a local dance school for their child.

Dance schools can vary from one extreme to the other. When looking for the right school for your child you should be armed with some knowledge before you find yourself and your child in an awkward situation. Viewing your daughter on stage in less than appropriate costuming or your son grooving along to a song way beyond his years will make you cringe!

..”As a child psychologist, the sexualisation of children concerns me greatly. I was incredibly impressed and thankful that your production was so appropriate for children…”
Dr Sophie Reid, Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Kingsford
(Referring to Momentum Dance Studios UNSW)

Dance schools fall into two main categories, recreational or competitive. Depending on the level of interest your child has and what you want your child to achieve from this extra curricular activity will factor into your choice.

balcombe heights215A recreational school may be smaller in size and more personal for this exact reason. They are often owner operated and can cost a little less. Children can really be nurtured and made to feel special in this type of school. However, you should look for signs that it is run in a professional manner such as:

  • Accredited with a recognised dance institution such as Royal Academy of Dance or others
  • Operating on purpose built dance flooring to prevent injury and that they are insured.
  • All teachers should be Police Security Checked – it’s the law to work with children and many are not!

A competitive school is one that actively promotes and enters competitions or eisteddfods against other schools. They are often larger in size, can cost more (competition fees, costumes and pressure to do more classes) and a certain amount of student rivalry can develop. These schools are often a bit flashier. They will have a set uniform for class with their own logo that you will have to purchase from the school and be specific about the brand of dance shoes you just buy. A competitive school can still be a rewarding experience for your child particularly if the show great aptitude for dance, are naturally competitive or want to go down the path of professional performer.

A little knowledge can be dangerous right? No! You now know more then some of the parents sitting in that dance studio waiting room. Below are a few questions that are worthwhile asking and should be answered clearly by a good school and without hesitation.

  1. How much are classes? Believe it or not some school will not tell you this. Also avoid schools that want your account details or lock you into contracts.
  2. Can we do a trial class? This is a good option to see how your child goes however one class is not enough for your child to feel comfortable and confident in a new environment. Don’t be discouraged if it wasn’t a hit. You may wish to try for a term and give them a chance to make a friend and understand what is going on in the class.
  3. What performances are students expected to be involved in? Avoid schools that perform in a lot of shopping centres or festivals as this is purely to promote their own business and of little value to your child. Generally schools will perform once or twice a year.
  4. Are your teachers Police Security Checked? All adults working with children must hold a valid Working With Children Permit.
  5. Do students have to do exams? Many schools are accredited or affiliated with a large dance organisation such as BBO, EDTA, CSTD, RAD, Cecchetti. This isn’t a bad thing. It means that the school has a certain standard they aim for and students can work through the grades. However these qualifications are not valued outside of this organisation and are not really necessary. The exception we believe is RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) from the UK as this is the most recognised stream of classical ballet and students can work towards a teacher qualification and work internationally. RAD teachers are in high demand and paid accordingly. Exams in all other styles of dance such as Tap, Jazz, Contemporary or Hip Hop are not essential and just end up costing you more money.
  6. Do you have any scholarships or discounts? Most school will offer discounted classes if you do more then one or have siblings enrolled. Schools that offer scholarship demonstrate a genuine commitment to their local communities and are not just profiteers!

So there you have it! You are now officially a well informed Dance Dad.

Momentum Dance StudioDon’t be hesitant to question the intimidating dance school principal before you sign up. It’s much harder to move your child once they have settled into a class, made friends and adore their teacher. However, if you do observe that your child isn’t being exposed to the best practice in dance education make that move and it will pay off in the end and certainly avoid the cringe factor.

Happy Dancing!

Written by Natasha Swan, Momentum Dance Studios

Momentum Dance Studios was founded by Belinda Fenech and Natasha Swan, graduates from the University of NSW. Their studios in Kensington, Rozelle and Baulkham Hills offer recreational dance classes for children aged 3 years and up on Saturdays. For more information please visit

Momentum Dance Sudio