July 2017 | Ask Rhee Gold | Competition Programs

Advice for dance teachers | Competition Programs

Q: Dear Rhee,

At what age do you believe a child should begin a competition program? We’ve always started at 10; now parents are asking me if I will accept kids as young as 6. I don’t know if the children and their parents are prepared for the amount of class time and financial commitment it takes to be a competitive student. But there are studios around me that invite kids as young as 6. Should I change to give my customers what they want and if I don’t, will it hurt my business? What would you do? —Kimberly

A: Dear Kimberly,

I do think that age 10 is a perfect age to begin a competitive program, but I also know that’s not the prevailing opinion in the dance world. With that said, there are ways to bring younger children to the competition experience without the financial and time commitment that you describe.

Consider creating an apprentice competitive program that prepares younger kids and their parents for the more intensive commitment that students ages 10 and older make when they join the competitive program. The apprentice program could require a three-hour weekly commitment in which students take class and learn one or two routines to perform at competitions. Limit the number of competitions students in the program attend to one or two. Keep it simple. This concept is a compromise; it lets you hang onto your beliefs and lets parents see their children in a competitive program. Good luck. —Rhee