Questions every parent should ask:
Click the Relevant Questions Below to Directly Link to the Questions on Our Homepage
To help parents compare dance studios, we have put together a number of questions that you should ask when investigating a dance program – be sure to click the questions above or scroll down and read the questions that apply to your dancer’s age group before you decide on a dance school.
Mission - What is the mission of the dance program?
Only one in several thousand dancers will actually dance professionally. Although our students have gone on to perform with world renowned companies, that is only one small part of our dance story. Our primary mission is to be a positive influence on our students . A challenging, nurturing, and exciting dance program can help a child be a success academically, develop healthy life habits, instill team social skills, and evoke life long habits of discipline. Helping parents raise responsible, caring, intelligent children is our primary objective. We utilize the art of ballet to achieve that ideal.
Young child dance - Is the young child program engaging, well planned, and creative?
Preschool dancers learn entirely differently from elementary age students. Young children learn best through structured play. Wilmington School of Ballet has the unique advantage of being home to a preschool (Wilmington Preschool of the Arts) and hence having a great deal of early childhood education. Each month children learn new games, songs, rhymes, stories, and skills. Every dance class utilizes new props and dance toys. Children believe they are playing while they learn the real French terminology, famous ballet stories, and accurate ballet steps. Little children have a magical experience in our dance classes and develop a love of learning.
Class size - What are the class sizes and are there assistant teachers?
Dance classes should be relatively small. Our young child dance classes are limited to 12 per class with a teacher and an assistant. Older classes are generally limited to 14 with a teacher and assistant. Our assistants are frequently teenage and college dancers. This gives the assistant a teacher training opportunity and also gives the student a model. Children adore the assistants. They are “big” girls and boys who serve as an inspiration to the younger dancer.
Development - Does the elementary dance program develop in a planned sequential manner?
Each level of dance at the Wilmington School of Ballet has a syllabus that is specifically designed for an age range as well as a skill set. Each level has a two year program with different monthly combinations. This gives students the variety needed to stay engaged while continuing to practice and refine the same skills. Each dance level builds on the skill sets of the prior level. Students who come in late to our program are given great individual care to catch up to their peers. Dancers who come up through our ranks reach very high pre-professional levels.
Class Technique - How much of dance class is spent on rehearsal?
An old saying in dance education is that there are two type of schools. One teaches dances and the other teaches how to dance. The difference is how much of dance class time is spent on learning routines and how much is spent on learning technique. Classical ballet has the same structure worldwide if taught in the historic format. A series of exercises make up Barre, center work, and across the floor. The exercises are varied (combinations) but the class structure is always the same. This practice is hundreds of years old and the same around the globe in respected ballet institutions. If a school spends much time rehearsing productions in class, the level of training is simply lower by nature. The Wilmington School of Ballet never rehearses any routines until the spring semester, and then only a small portion of our dance school class time is spent on recital.
Variety -Is there diversity in class offerings and faculty to train a well rounded dancer?
Ballet is the foundation of all dance – however it is no longer enough all by itself. Twentieth century ballet companies perform as many contemporary works as they do classical. Prestigious ballet institutions now require contemporary training, cross fitness training, character, and variations. Wilmington School of Ballet offers weekly classes in stretch and strength, character, variations, contemporary, and hip hop. These classes are optional and in addition to daily ballet classes. Our variety of dance offerings all work together to prepare a well trained versatile dancer.
Performance – Are there performance choices to fit our family’s budget and child’s needs?
Performance is an integral part of a dance education. Each student and family, however, is unique and flexible options may make the difference in long term success for both the dancer and their family. Dancers in our program can choose from a variety of performance options.
Our preschool dancers have the benefit of an “in-studio stage space”. This is inexpensive for parents and nurturing for little ones
Our dance studio participates in a variety of community events, and each dancer has an opportunity to participates in these events. These usually require at least one rehearsal outside of class.
Elementary and up students will perform an end of the year ballet in a lovely theater
Kindergarten and up students can choose to participate in the Nutcracker in the fall
Level ¾ and up can choose to perform in our spring showcase which typically involves outside organizations. Each student and family can tailor their performance choices on any given year based on the circumstances of that given year.
It is said that you can judge a person by the company they keep. Dance studios are the same. The Wilmington School of Ballet is a beloved dance studio by many of our areas best educational and artistic institutions. Our dance program has regularly collaborated with Cameron Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Minnie Evans Performing Arts Center, New Hanover County Public Schools, Forward Motion Dance Company, and The Girls Choir of Wilmington – just to name a few. Our history of collaboration speaks volumes about the quality and consistency of our dance studio.
Faculty – Is the faculty well rounded, long term, and philosophically consistent?
Our dance faculty consists of numerous teachers whose backgrounds include prestigious professional dance careers, professorships at prestigious universities, dance degrees from esteemed dance colleges, early childhood education degrees, and the experience of motherhood. Our founder opened the school in 1999 and is still teaching & choreographing. Our dance director joined the studio in 2000 and is intensely devoted to the program. Several of our young child teachers became employees after their children had studied with WSB. Many of our guest teachers have been affiliated with the school for years. Our faculty credentials and longevity reflect the quality of our dance program.
Facility – Is the space designed to support the best dance experience?
Are the floors sprung and is the surface a professional dance material? Sprung floors prevent injuries. Marley is a specialized floor cover designed to create the ideal resistance for dance movements and pointe work. Our dance studios are all sprung floors with Marley covering.
Is the studio at least 1000 square feet? There are certain dance movements that require large spaces to perform accurately. One can only get so high in a leap if there is not room to build up momentum. Turns in a large circle simply can’t be practiced fully in a small space. Our two large dance studios are both 1000 square feet.
In addition to mirrors and barres, is there storage space to allow for a variety of props for young children? Each of our studios have built in storage lofts to allow ease of access for scarves, mats, instruments, hoops, dress up, ect.
Alumni – Where have students gone on to study or dance?
Many dance schools will claim “alumni” that a faculty member may have taught while at a bigger institution. This is not indicative of the training in that particular school. Parents should ask about the credentials of the students from that particular studio only. Dancers who trained exclusively with Wilmington School of Ballet have been accepted & attended School of American Ballet, Harid Conservatory, UNSCA, North Carolina Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Kirov Academy, Princeton Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Carolina Ballet, University of South Carolina, American Dance Festival.... just to name a few.
Body Image – What is the schools philosophy on weight and body image?
Dance training can be a positive influence in developing healthy eating and exercise habits as well as a positive body image. Too many times it becomes one more voice that mirrors the media in creating an unrealistic goal for young people. Our dance program is deeply committed to encouraging healthy habits and self esteem. Our directors are both mothers first. The foundational value of our dance program is to help young people develop as healthy whole human beings. We, as a dance community, proactively encourage young people to strive to be their very best and to have a positive self image.
Parents – Is the family considered to be a critical part of a great dance education?
Our dance program strives to include parents (and grandparents when possible) in the students dance life. Monthly newsletters teach and inform the family as well as the dancer. Large viewing windows allow family to watch any and all classes. Twice a year observation days bring the family into the classroom. Parents are encouraged to volunteer in performances. For advanced students, conferences with the director are held every spring. Social media is an active forum for parents and staff to communicate. Monthly eblast also bring informative and helpful information to parents. Our dance studio values the parents, as well as the dancer.
Scholarships – Does the studio offer scholarship and/or work barter?
The Wilmington School of Ballet has offered dance scholarships and work/ barter opportunities from it's inception. We never want money to be the reason that a child can’t learn to dance. As a dance school, budgets must be closely watched. Therefore, our dance studio has always had work/barter opportunities. Cleaning, painting, repairs, administration, and assistant teaching are just some of the positions that have been filled by barter parents & students. We believe that a dance school’s policy on scholarship and barter speaks volumes about their underlying philosophy.