Thank you for your interest in the brand new Dance Expo and The Dance Network Competition Teams! We understand that this is a new experience for many of you and that you probably have a lot of questions. Hopefully the information below will help clarify a few things.
OK – I’ve seen Dance Moms. Is that what I can expect from competition? Absolutely not! We want our studio’s competition experience to be fun and enjoyable! We will focus on team work, building character and confidence, and growing as dancers. We will stress the importance of working with each other, not against each other. It is important to support your fellow teammates, and we hope that students will form lasting friendships through our studio. We don’t want to understate the commitment that will be required from each student, but we will be keeping competition classes as low-key as we can. It is NOT all about winning. Would we be thrilled if our teams got platinum medals? Absolutely! But it is much more important to us that our teams come home from these competitions with a great experience. Not everyone will win the highest medal and a first place trophy, and we want every student will walk away with pride regardless of what award they receive.
What are the class requirements? Competitors will be required to take 3 classes – ballet (approx. 1hr), their competition class (approx. 1 hr 15 min – 1 ½ hrs), and another technique class. Ballet is required because it is the root of all dance, and we want to build a solid foundation for each dancer. Ballet classes will be based on age and ability level. The competition class will consist of technique in the style(s) of their competition dance(s) as well as choreography. The third class is the dancer’s choice, and they may choose from anything on the schedule. If you are unsure which classes are right for your dancer when registering, your teacher can certainly help gear you in the right direction.
Can students take their competition class at Dance Expo/The Dance Network and the rest of their classes at another studio? No – students may not take class at any other studio or with any other dance instructor outside of Dance Expo/The Dance Network without written consent from the competition teachers.
What is the cost for competition classes? The ballet and technique classes will have the standard cost and payment schedule in line with the rest of the classes at the studios. Because the competition class is longer and more intensive than a regular class, the cost will be a bit higher. We understand that competition will mean added costs, and therefore, we will allow the competition class to be paid monthly. This will be allowed for the competition class only, and all other classes must follow the regular payment schedule of 4 payments per season.
Will students be allowed any absences for competition classes? It is important that the students are aware that they are not only committing themselves to the dance studio, but they are committing themselves to working with each other as a team. Therefore, attendance is essential. Each student will only be allowed 3 excused absences throughout the dance season. We understand that things like family emergencies, funerals, etc. do occur, and these instances will be dealt with as necessary. However, we will not excuse students for events like birthday parties, sporting events, etc. We want students to understand the importance of dedication.
Are we required to purchase costumes for competition dances? How much will they cost? Costumes must be purchased for each competition dance. Because costume/appearance will count towards a groups score in competition, we may need to purchase costumes that are a bit pricier than regular recital costumes. These costumes should probably cost somewhere between $80-120. We will do what we can to bring the price down when possible (such as adding our own rhinestones), but please be aware that this may not be possible with certain costumes. Each costume will be worn 4-5 times (3-4 times at competition and at the recital).
Besides classes, is there a separate competition fee? We will require a small deposit to hold your child’s spot on the competition team. We will do this to ensure commitment and secure your child’s spot on the team in case classes fill up quickly.
What other costs will be involved besides class and costume fees? There is an entrance fee for each competition. Group numbers generally cost about $30-40 per student per competition. Duo/trio dances usually cost about $40-50 per student to enter, and solos are around $80-90. Besides competition fees, each student will be required to purchase specified dance jewelry. The jewelry is inexpensive (usually less than $20 for a choker necklace, and somewhere around $10 for rhinestone earrings). This is not something you will need to purchase every year. The same jewelry can be worn every year and will not need to be replaced unless lost. We also want to make sure that our studio is well-represented at these functions, and we will show our pride by wearing studio attire to each competition. Students will be required to purchase some form of studio attire (a jacket, t-shirt, or sweat pants, etc.), although specific clothing pieces have not yet been determined. Shoes for competition performances must be purchased through our studio so that all shoes are uniform. Other brand shoes in the style of your class may be worn for rehearsals.
What is the commitment that is required for competition? The competition season will run from September – May. Pre-season classes are highly recommended and will start in July.
What are these pre-season classes? Are they mandatory? Pre-season classes will be technique classes that will run through parts of July and August. We are basically trying to give the students a jump start to the year. Since competitions occur earlier than our recital, we will need to start choreography much earlier than usual. Therefore, we are giving the students a chance to start brushing up on technique and learning technique that they may not already know before they will be expected to start choreography. These classes are not mandatory, however, they are HIGHLY recommended. We do understand that summer is the time for vacations and weekend get-aways, and therefore, we will allow students to take these classes on a pay-per-class basis. The schedule for these classes is TBD and will be announced after auditions.
My child has other activities in the fall. Can he/she join a competition team in November? No – we will not be accepting new team members for our competition classes after the regular dance season starts in September. Unlike our regular classes that start choreography in January, our competition choreography will start in September. Therefore, students who start in November will be two months behind by the time they join. Although competition classes will be closed in September, we accept new students in our recreational dance classes until January.
How many competitions will we be attending? Where and when are they? We will be attending 3-4 competitions next year. Competitions are generally in the early spring. Most are in March and April, but they may start as early as the end of February or as late as the beginning of May. Typically, competitions are held on Saturday and/or Sundays. We will announce the dates of the competitions as we know them, but specific day/times for dances are generally not announced by the competition organization until a week or 2 prior to the competition. For the first year at least, we will be doing local competitions. There are some competitions that are held in the Lawrenceville, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, and Toms River areas. You will not have to travel much farther than these areas. There will be no overnight competition trips.
Can I choose to only attend one or two competitions? No – every student will be required to attend all competitions with their group. We are focusing on teamwork, and there will not be time to rework choreography and spacing between competitions.
Can students leave immediately after they are done dancing at each competition? No - students are required to remain at the competition until the award ceremony for their particular category. Students are reminded that they are part of a team, and they are required to accept any awards as a team. Although they will be excused after their award ceremony, students are welcome and encouraged to stay at the competition to cheer on the rest of our studio’s teams.
How many dances will each team be performing? Each team will perform 1 or 2 dances for competition, depending on the ability level of the group as a whole. Should your child be placed on a team that is doing multiple dances, both dances will be covered in their weekly competition class. They will not need to attend an additional class (other than those listed above) if they are chosen to do more than one competition number unless it is a solo or duo/trio.
How will the teachers determine which dance style(s) each group will take to the competition? The teachers will determine which style(s) each group will compete with based on the ability level of the group as a whole. For example, if most of the students are geared more towards jazz, the chosen style will be jazz. If many of the students are suited for both jazz and lyrical, the group will perform two numbers.
Will students be required to attend extra rehearsals in the weeks before competition? Possibly, however, we hope to start early with choreography so that students will be as prepared as possible by the time competition season arrives. We shouldn’t need to schedule extra classes, but if we feel that the students require more practice, we will schedule extra rehearsal times prior to attending a competition.
Will I need to travel to one of the other Dance Expo/The Dance Network studios for classes? You will not need to travel to another studio for classes unless you are a student at the Plainsboro studio. Classes for East Windsor students will all be held at the East Windsor studio, and classes for Lawrenceville students in Lawrenceville. If you are a Plainsboro student and would like to join a competition team, you are certainly welcome to do so. You will be required to travel to one of the other studios for your competition class only. The other two classes may be taken in Plainsboro.
Do you know on which days competition classes will be held? We will have a better idea of an exact schedule after auditions, but we can tell you that East Windsor competition classes will be held on Monday and/or Tuesday, and the Lawrenceville competition classes will be held on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays.
If my child auditions, is he/she guaranteed a spot on a competition team? Yes! We want every child to have the opportunity to grow as not only a dancer but a team member! We do understand, though, that each child is coming into auditions with a different dance background and ability level. Therefore, we will have different team levels that will accommodate all ability levels.
How are students chosen for solos/duos/trios? Solos and duo/trios will be offered by teacher recommendation and will be based on auditions.
My child has never taken dance classes before. Can he/she still audition? Yes! Please do! As stated above, we want every child to have the opportunity to excel. Some students may not have much experience (or any at all) in dance, and that is why we have chosen to offer different teams to accommodate different ability and experience levels.
What can we expect at auditions? Our auditions will begin with approximately 20 minutes of warm up exercises and stretches. Then, they will be learning across-the-floor combinations (kicks, leaps, jumps, turns, etc.). After that, they will learn choreography in different styles (jazz and lyrical), and we will call students into the room in groups of 3 or 4 to perform that choreography to be evaluated. Students do not need to prepare any choreography for auditions. They should wear comfortable, fitted dance clothes and jazz or ballet shoes if they have them.
My child can’t make it to the April audition dates! Will there be more opportunities to audition? Yes – we will be scheduling more auditions for June and August. However, we would like to keep classes relatively small so that each child can get more individualized attention. This means that, although no one will be cut based on their audition, we will need to cap the classes at a certain point to keep them small. We recommend that you attend the earliest audition date that you possibly can to ensure a spot on the team. You are also welcome to attend auditions at a different studio if you are unable to attend them at your own studio. You will still be placed on a team at the studio you regularly attend.
Is there anything else I should know about the new competition teams? As you may know, competitions are broken down by age groups, and, if necessary, we must be able to prove the age of each child competing. Failure to produce proof of a birthdate when required by the competition organization results in disqualification from the competition. Therefore, a copy of each team member’s birth certificate must be submitted to Dance Expo/The Dance Network prior to the start of the season in September. If a student is unable to provide this document prior to the start of the seasons, he/she will not be able to compete. We cannot wait until later in the year to collect these because there will not be time to restructure formations and change choreography if someone has to leave the group.
We are so excited to start our first competition season, and we can’t wait to see you at auditions!!!!!