Ask the Experts: How Many Hours for Comp Kids


Q: How many hours a week are competition kids required to dance at your studio? Ours have to put in six hours, but I'm thinking of upping that.

At our studio, the number of hours depends on the comp dancer's level. Most of our competitive students are in the studio three to four days a week, and we add Sundays on for solo, duet and trio choreography from mid-November to mid-March.

Mini company dancers (average age is 6): five to six hours per week

Junior/intermediate: six to seven hours

Intermediate/advanced and intermediate/senior: eight to nine hours

Senior and advanced: 10–12 hours

We require the minis to take at least one jazz, one tap, one ballet, one hip-hop and one company class. (Most take acro, as well.) Once dancers get to the junior level, we add a second ballet class and tap class. At the next level, we add a lyrical/contemporary class and a third ballet class into the mix. Intermediate/senior-level dancers pick up what we call a large group class, which incorporates two levels of dancers. Senior dancers take class from guest choreographers, too.

When dancers spend so much time in the studio, it's important to have a space where they can eat and do homework. (It also helps keep the parents happy.) We don't get many complaints about the time commitment, because we stress time-management skills—something that all kids can apply to their future.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

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Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

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