Q: What's the minimum age for starting dance at your studio? I get a lot of "But she'll turn 2 in December!" from parents.
A: We offer introductory classes in ballet, jazz and acrobatics for 2 1/2- and 3-year-olds. Our youngest competition level ranges from 4 to 6. But more important than age is the child's readiness to take a class or compete. Our criteria for class is that they be toilet-trained and can come into class without a parent.
We are strict on this last point—absolutely no parents are allowed to walk in with their little dancers or open the door to have a peek. In fact, we always have someone of authority who monitors the parents—this is often my role. We also make sure to have two or three assistants in these classes, to stay with the shy or unsure little ones.
Parents don't always agree with us when we tell them their child is not ready for class or competition. But allowing a dancer to do something you don't feel they are ready for is never a good idea. After all, the experience of taking a class or competing should always be a positive one.