From the moment we were told we were having a girl, I started dreaming of tutus and tap shoes. So when Madeline turned two, and had already been dancing around the house from the moment she could walk, I knew pink ballet slippers, tutus, and tap shoes were indeed in my future.
Now that the first year of dance class is behind us, and we have survived our first dance recital (and lived to tell the tale), I thought I’d share a bit of what life was like as a first time dance mom and maybe offer a bit of hopefully helpful advice to any new dance moms out there.
Top Ten Things I Learned as a First Time Dance Mom
- The Studio Matters – Every studio seems to have their own style when it comes to the type of songs, choreography, and costumes that their dancers will wear. After uncomfortably watching a group of six year olds wiggle and shake to Pitbull’s Fireball wearing nothing more than a bedazzled bikini a couple of years before at a local festival, it was important to us to make sure that there was a bit of modesty in the dance and costumes. When looking at a studio, make sure you ask about costumes and the songs that your child will be performing in.
- Budget Matters – I began looking for a studio that would take my tiny toddler and fit within our schedule and budget. Last July, I finally settled on a studio that was minutes from our house and would allow us to try out the dance life. Dance classes can quickly add up. Prices for classes around our part of the metro range from $35 to over $60 a month. Most studios do offer a discount for siblings as well as a discount for paying early. Make sure to ask about available discounts when calling about tuition.
- Additional Fees Not Included – When I first asked what the price of tuition was, what I neglected to ask was if there were any additional costs that I should be aware of. And boy were there. In addition to your monthly enrollment fee, be prepared for an annual enrollment fee, a recital fee, and costume fees. Then there are the extra, extras. The t-shirt, the DVD of the recital, extra tickets to the recital, photos, flowers for the day of the recital, special tights to match, shoe bows, and hours of therapy that you need because you can’t stop singing the song that your three-year-old is tap dancing to at the recital all day and night and it has literally driven you a bit crazy (I might be exaggerating that last one, maybe). Don’t forget your tiny dancer will need the proper shoes, tights, and dance wear for practice as well! Suddenly the super affordable monthly tuition had turned in to something that was making me look at our budget each month and question whether this whole dance thing was really worth it.
- Dance Shoes are Not Street Shoes – Madeline wears a different size tap shoe, ballet shoe, and sneaker. I’m not sure who invented the sizing of dance shoes, but they are not my friend. As if it’s not bad enough that her street shoe size doesn’t match up with the size of her tap shoes, her ballet shoes are a whole other size altogether. Each brand seems to have their own sizing, so forget trying to buy online until you learn whether that particular brand runs big or small for your child’s foot.
- Consignment Stores Rock – Dance clothes and shoes often get outgrown quickly or only used for one short season. I went on the search for tap shoes, ballet shoes, and tiny tutus and leotards. This actually proved to be a difficult task. When you have a two-year-old who is considered small for her age, even the XXS leotards were hanging off of her and the smallest of tap shoes seemed huge. Thank goodness for Wild Child in Lee’s Summit. They quickly became my favorite little dance mom secret. They have a great selection of dance shoes and dance wear and at a much more affordable price than many of the traditional dance stores. I was able to find the tiny tap and ballet shoes and a plethora of adorable leotards and tutus for my new little dancer.
- Recital is Serious Business – When it comes to recital your child’s teacher and studio owner will take it incredibly seriously. You are expected to show up to each dress rehearsal and the recital prepared and on time. Be prepared with the right makeup (yes, your toddler will most likely be expected to wear makeup), the right hairstyle and all pieces of your costume. Prepare your little one that there will be a lot of waiting backstage, and that they will need to be ready on their line when it’s their turn to perform. It may seem like a lot, but after months of rehearsal, they will do great.
- The Color of the Tights Matter – When it comes to recital time, all tights are not created equal. Most studios and teachers will have a specific brand and color of tights that your child will be required to purchase and wear. It may seem silly at first, but once on stage and under the bright lights, you really can tell the difference if one girl is wearing “suntan” instead of “jazzy tan.”
- Hairspray and Bobby Pins are Magic – The day of recital I had to finagle my daughter’s wispy, fine, toddler hair up into the tiniest ballet bun you ever did see. Half a bottle of hairspray and several hair clips and pins later, it somehow managed to stay up throughout her performance. I believe these tools are equally as miraculous with long, thick manes that need extra control. Hair bun extensions were also used in full force to help enhance the super fine hair of many of the young dancers.
- Say Yes to Screen Time – Recital day is not the day to restrict screen time for little ones. Each studio is a little different, but for us, our dress rehearsal was early in the morning and then we had a long break and had a call time an hour before the recital started. This meant we had a lot of time to fill. During our down time while waiting our turn to perform we made use of the tablet for movies and games to keep her mostly quiet and in one place. Non-messy snacks were also helpful in keeping her happy and keeping her energy up after a long day.
- Friendships will Be Made – Over this last year, we have watched our tiny toddler blossom into a talented little performer. She loves to dance and the class has been a great opportunity for her to not only learn a skill that she enjoys, but for her to also make some amazing little friends. While I knew she would make friends, what I didn’t expect is that I did. too.
Below is a list of dance studios in Eastern Jackson County:
Boundless Dance Academy – 12500 E. U.S. 40. Suite D, Independence, Missouri – 816-795-5327
Tuition Price: $33 per month for 30 minute class; $50 per month for 45 minute class; $57 per month for 1 hour class
Age: Starts at age 3
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – $30; Recital Fee – $80; Costume Fee – $80
Other Notes: Recital is held in November; There are no December classes
A Time to Dance – 10500 East 350 Highway, Raytown, Missouri – 816-353-1994
Tuition Price: $160 – Fall; $320 – Spring
Age: Starts at age 2
Other Fees: Tuition includes registration fee and costume fee
Other Notes: They host Daddy/Daughter Dance and Parent’s Night Out events; Additional performance opportunities include a performance at Starlight; They also offer Cheer and Tumbling
United Dance Studio – 310 W. 89th Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri – 816-822-0144
Tuition Price: $35
Age: Starts at age 3
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – $12; Recital Fee – $20; Costume Fee – $30-$75
Other Notes: Tumbling classes and private lessons also available
Reed Performing Arts Studio – 100 NE Tudor Rd, Ste 108, Lee’s Summit, Missouri – 816-525-4455
Tuition Price: $45 per month for 45 minute class
Age: Starts at age 3
Other Fees: Recital Fee – $65; Costume Fee – $50-$65
Other Notes: Optional Father/Daughter Dance for recital; Performs at Lee’s Summit’s Downtown Days; Performs two routines during Showcase of Talent; Has a mini competition Team for young dancers; Theatre classes also available
BPM Dance Complex – 1220 SE Broadway Drive, Lee’s Summit, Missouri – 816-524-1200
Tuition Price: $55 per month
Age: Starts at age 2
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – $50; Recital Fees – $100; Costume Fees – $100
Other Notes: Performs at Lee’s Summit’s Downtown Days and Oktoberfest; Has a pre-competitive team for young dancers
Expressions in Dance – 6219 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown, Missouri – 816-353-2222
Tuition Price: $50 per month for 45 minute class; $65 per month for one hour class
Age: Start at age 3
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – $25 per student, $5 deduction for each additional student; Recital Fee – $60 per student
Other Notes: Mommy & Me class available for ages 1 – 2
Monica’s School of Dance – 332 SW Blue Parkway, Lee’s Summit, Missouri – 816-246-6776
Tuition Price: $55 per month for one hour class
Age: Start at age 2.5
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – $30, max $40 per family
Other Notes: Tumbling and Cheer also available
Wynn Twins – Dancin’ 2 Wynn – 10818 E. 79th Street, Raytown, Missouri – 816-358-2410
Tuition Price: $63 per month
Age: Start at age 2
Other Fees: Enrollment Fee – Recital Fee – $100; Costume Fee – $75
Champions Gymnastics Dance – 6240 Raytown Trafficway, Raytown, Missouri – 816-360-9879
Tuition Price: $60 per month for 40 minute class
Age: Start at age 4
Other Notes: Gymnastics classes also available
*All fees are subject to change especially costume fees as they are an average based on previous year’s performance.