10 Questions All Beginning Dancers Ask

Answers to the popular questions that many people ask themselves whether beginning dancers or experienced and returning to classes after time away.

1. What if I don't like my dance class after I sign up for it?

  • Some dance schools will tell you that you're out of luck.
  • And other schools will schedule you into other beginner dance classes and others may offer a refund, but not many do
  • A few dance schools offer a free trial class.  After you’ve narrowed down your class search, this may be an ideal way to learn if the school/class is right for you before you choose.
  • If they don’t offer free trial classes then try to ask the school for special terms before you sign up.

It’s important because a bad fit can ruin a wonderful experience. Don’t hesitate to ask each dance school about their refund policies. Or choose a dance school that posts flexible and accommodating policies, especially if you or your kids are taking beginning dance classes.

Hip Hop dance classes at the American Dance Institute

Hip Hop dance classes at the American Dance Institute

Sometimes the class you choose just isn't a good fit.

2. If I miss a dance class, 

can I get a refund or do make up classes?

Many dance schools do not refund the cost of the missed class but they will allow you to make up a class as long as it is done in the current semester. We offer refunds when makeups don't work for your schedule.

Some schools have flexible up policies, others do not. Find out ahead of time what their polices are.

If you're taking beginning dance classes or advanced, you are going to miss some classes because 'life happens'. How will you feel then, knowing that class’s tuition is lost?

Magnolia Winterfest Pre-Ballet Dance Class ages 5-7

Magnolia Winterfest Pre-Ballet Dance Class ages 5-7

You are going to miss some dance classes because life happens.

3. What if I don’t have a ballet body?

  •  Your body is just fine no matter the shape, age, fitness level if you are attending a recreational type dance school.
  • In ballet schools offering career level performance training, only people with 'ballet bodies' feel acceptable.
  • This question speaks to the culture in dance schools. Some schools say everyone is welcome including beginning dance students and all body types but instructors and fellow students aren't being honest and may make you feel otherwise once you once in dance class.
  • At best, you’ll be ignored; at worst, you’ll be ridiculed, however, at ADI everyone is welcome!
  • Some recreational schools offering serious training  are truly accepting of all body types. Again, visit some schools and feel the vibe.
Ballet body types

There are Seattle dance schools that truly are accepting of all body types.

4. Do You Offer Free Trial Classes?

Yes, we offer 1 free trial per class! 

A free trial class can answer so many of the questions on this page in a short and efficient period of time. Unfortunately few schools offer a truly convenient way to take a free class.

  • Not all schools offer free trial classes.
  • Some have free days in the course of a month, which may or may not align with your busy schedule.
  • Some let you take the class you see on their schedule, however only if you've had enough training to keep up with that class.  You won't enjoy a class that is too advanced or has progressed too far for you.

5. Do you offer tuition discounts?

  • We  do offer discounts if more than one family member attends and if you are signed up for 2 or more classes a week.
  • We also offer monthly payment plans, call or email to get your set up!

6. Can parents stay and watch a class?

  • Yes, all our studio locations have viewing rooms where you are welcome to stay and watch your child.
  • Some schools allow you to watch, others do not. If it is important to you or your child that you watch them, be sure to ask what the school’s policy is.
  • Some schools feel that parents are a distraction to the children in class.
  • Some schools recognize that parents are not a distraction all the time; that there are times a child needs to see mom or dad to get a little reassurance, especially if they are having a bad day.
  • Sometimes getting that reassurance from a viewing parent is the difference between a lost class and a successful one.
kids dance classes, ballet classes for kids, ballet classes

Parents watching their children in a dance class at American Dance Institute Shoreline.

7. What are the attitudes of the students in dance class?
Are they Snooty?

kid's ballet, kids ballet, children's ballet classes,

Our motto is "No snootines allowed!"

Look for schools that foster values important to you.

And it’s not just the students; management and instructors shape the culture.

There is a definite culture in dance schools. Fellow students can be warm and welcoming at one end of the spectrum or snooty, competitive and backbiting at the other. 

  • Students learn best in an environment of respect, empathy and acceptance.
  • Take a free trial class or visit the schools you are considering during class time. You can usually feel the vibe.

8. How consistent is the quality of instruction?

Does it vary with each new dance teacher?

  • We have all our instructors go through in house training.
  • Of the many dance teachers hired by a studio over time, some are excellent, some okay, some uninspiring and some are downright awful.. Wo do our best to hire only the most easy to follow and welcoming teachers!
  • Ask what criteria go into a school’s hiring.
  • Some let you take the class you see on their schedule, however only if you've had enough training to keep up with that class.  You won't enjoy a class that is too advanced or has progressed too far for you.
  • Great teachers make an enormous difference in what your child gets from class.
ballet for kids, kids ballet class, kids ballet schools, kids ballet

Dance teacher, Ines Andrade, with her children's pre-ballet students 'back stage' awaiting their art-walk performance.

  • Ask what training and ongoing monitoring methods are employed by school to insure consistency. Listen carefully for substance in the answers you receive.
  • Truly excellent teachers are very few and far between, but even the great ones need constant monitoring until they are acclimated to a new school's curriculum.

Remember, only the best teachers, backed by the consistent school's support, can produce great results, consistently, over time.

9. Are there any hidden fees? 


It depends on they type of dance school they are.

Our school has our registration fee and class tuition fee posted on our pricing page.

10. Does your dance studio have ‘sprung’ floors?

kid's irish dance classes, irish dance classes for kids, children's irish dance classes, non-competitive irish dance

ADI Irish dance Students At Sagebrook Senior Home American Dance Institute Irish Dancing Classes Seattle WA Irish Dancing Studios

  • A sprung dance floor is designed and built to move or flex a little under the weight of a dancer landing on it after a fast paced walk, run, jump or leap.
  • Dance students risk very serious injury to their feet and ankles practicing on hard, stiff floors.
  • Dance floors must 'give' or move and in a reliable and predictable manner. Even cushioned floor mats are dangerous, because they offer an unpredictable response or unwelcome ‘surprise’ to the toes & feet.
  • Studio floors of hardwood on concrete, concrete, linoleum, tile and cushioned mats can cause serious injury even with 'padding' between them and the concrete floor.
  • Therefore, insist only on dance studios with sprung dance floors. 

11. What if my child's dance classes conflict with another sport like soccer?

We allow enrollment at anytime during the session season and even pro-rate the tuition! 

If your schedule changes we can drop the class and issue a refund per our refund policy 

Some schools will make you wait until the next dance session starts, saying that total devotion to one activity or the other is required if a child is to realize their full potential.

Other schools, recognizing there is also benefit to cross training, are flexible and will allow you to join late and prorated tuition.

If it is a technique class, sometimes a private lesson or two might be needed to shorten the gap of what the student missed so as not to hold the other students back. It is always worth asking if they accept late enrollment.

12. Do dance recitals require a huge time commitment?

Children's ballet class about to enter and perform on stage.

For the schools that put on a big stage production, the majority of recital rehearsals are usually done during normal class time; so there shouldn’t be any extra time requirement initially.

However getting closer to show-time requires dress rehearsals and tech rehearsals. Some schools combine them into one very long day and other schools do not, thus requiring two or more long evenings.

Schools that do in-house studio performances normally don’t require additional rehearsals since they are learning in the space they will be performing in.

While there needs to be some prep time for any performance, it’s important that the emphasis on performance does not negate the Creative process. 

If students are spending half of their class time for 4-5 months perfecting one dance for recital, they will not be learning new skills or perfecting dance technique.

What is the real value of your dance investment then?

Here's what to look for:

Non-Competing ‘Neighborhood’ Schools as opposed to Competitions schools popularized on TV, these schools choreograph a dance routine and compete against other like schools. They are very expensive to attend when you add in all of the dance costumes, travel, lodging, competition fees, etc. Both for profit and non profit, some put on big lavish annual recitals. If they stage a big stage recital every year, expect to shell out extra cash for costume fees, tickets, CD’s and photographs. Multiple children in dance school or one child in several dance classes will require purchasing a costume for each dance class that performs, however we offer costume discounts for more than one performance. 

Schools like ours that often do in-house studio recitals for the little ones.

In-house recitals often require small or no costume or ticket fees. They are great for young children's dance classes who are just as happy performing in a small intimate, and familiar environment as opposed to on a big stage and auditorium which can be quite overwhelming.

  • Our dance school performs at community events which are usually free if local.
  • Be sure to calculate the cost savings here when comparing tuition prices.
  • Dance is performance art and should be performed. Insure the format and costs associated with a dance school’s recital make sense for the age and ability of you or your child.

Magnolia dance studio interior

13. How clean and safe are the studio floors?

We have our studios professionally cleaned every week and our office staff perform daily maintenince of studio upkeep.

Body to floor contact is very common in dance classes. Even without street shoes being worn on the dance floor, there is sweat, skin, and chemical residue everywhere.

Some schools just give floors a daily sweep, some use harsh chemicals on the dance floor.

Check and see what kind of cleaning products are used. You want to choose a school that sanitizes the floor surfaces without using any harsh chemicals that come into body contact.

Enroll in a beginning dance class at a school that respects and supports your values, budget & goals. 

Elizabeth Chayer, founder of the American Dance Institute, on opening day of her first dance studio in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood 1991.

Elizabeth Chayer, founder of the American Dance Institute, on opening day of her first dance studio in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood 1991.

About the author:

Elizabeth Chayer, founded American Dance Institute 31 years ago in Seattle, Washington. She currently serves as director. American Dance Institute has taught over 17,000 students to dance in a school environment that is relaxed, friendly and dedicated to excellence in dance instruction. Elizabeth has also mentored hundreds of instructors to master teacher status in the school’s 31 year history.  

She has cataloged the most often heard questions from thousands of student/parent school inquiries over the years. She shared her wisdom here, so that every dance student- children to adults- can find the perfect school and have a wonderful, rewarding learning experience.

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