Affording Dance Lessons for My Daughter

Updated on September 11, 2013
E.P. asks from Tampa, FL
30 answers

A friend of mine has a daughter who takes dance lessons twice a week. She asked me if my daughter (8) would like to join a class with her daughter. The girls have known each other since preschool. They haven't really bonded, I think because my daughter is very introverted. But the mom and I are friends, so I have just accepted that. Anyway, I thought tap dancing or jazz might help my daughter come out of her shell and would be a fun way to exercise.
We went to one free Contemporary dance class. I wasn't impressed. The girls just did a lot of stretching and twirling. I couldn't see myself paying for that. Anyway, my friend told me about the tap and jazz combo and that sounded more fun.

Only a few things concern me-

Cost. It's 70 plus dollars a month plus registration fee of $40. I don't know if they are long-term contracts. There's also fees for costumes and recital. We are technically on one income. I work per job for the newspaper. Assignments are few and far between. We have a lot of debt. I don't even know if my daughter will like dance.

The studio is a good 15 minutes away. We could go to studios closer. Many are within 5 minutes. The community center also offers dance and does not include a registration fee.

Would it look weird if I asked a local dance studio if I could do payment plans or volunteer in the studio to pay for her classes? Or would we be better off just trying the local community center? Or are we better off pursuing a different activity that is cheaper?

PS- My mother sent $45 for a month worth of dance lessons (that's how much Contemporary dance is), but Tap is more expensive and this doesn't cover the other fees. Also, my mom can not afford to send money month after month.

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answers from Norfolk on

No - if you have debt, then dance lessons are off the board.
Once the debt is paid off, then you can budget for activities.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I would do the community center! Dance can get really expensive you need to factor in the other costs in addition to the monthly tuition. My kids do gymnastics 4 and 6. One has a 45 min class and the other has 1.5 hr class both once a week and I pay 150 a month. Next year my tuition will jump to almost $250 a month to add my other child and one child moves up a level. The more you get into any activity the more expensive it gets.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Myers on

My daughter was in dance & went to a performing arts high school for dance. It was something she loved & was good at. But, it can be very expensive !! One year the recital costumes were more then my house pymt. Try something closer & cheaper to see if she loves it. Ask her if there is something that she would like to try. We tried gymnastics, tennis, bowling, modeling & skating. Dance & skating were her top choices, but she had fun trying other things. My grandson is almost 8 & has played baseball, soccor, bowling & karate so far. As of now, he has chosen karate. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

As Suze Orman would say: DENIED. YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT.

It sounds to me like the biggest reason why you want your daughter to take these dance lessons is because your friend sends her daughter to dance lessons. If your daughter has not shown any interest in dance and has not asked for lessons, don't entertain the thought any further. She can get exercise for free outside.

Pay off your debt before you spend any more money on things you and your family don't need. By the way, you didn't mention what your husband thinks of this. I hope you are both on the same financial page.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

To answer your direct questions...

If your daughter is interested in dance, try the community center first. If you find it's something she enjoys then you can think about a professional dance studio.

No, it would not be weird if you asked for a payment plan or some type of bartering services. This is a common way for parents to afford these types of activities.

To add my personal opinion...
You simply cannot afford this type of program. If you think that your daughter wants to be closer friends with this girl, then you can find inexpensive activities that they both enjoy. Also, if the overall goal is to get your daughter involved and "out of her shell", focus on activities that she has shown an interest in.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on


It doesn't sound like it's within your means. One should always live within their means.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would take her to the community center and see what she thinks.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I would just NOT sign up.
I mean, it sounds like you are maybe doing it because your friend asked.
So you are doing it for her.
That to me, is not a reason to sign up your kid for dance classes.
And besides, you/your Mom cannot... afford it.
Its a no brainer.
Just don't sign up.
You do not, have to.

And besides, your daughter is not her daughter. They are 2 different personalities and different individuals.
They don't have to be the same or do the same things. They don't have to be friends or have anything in common.
I would do what MY own daughter, was interested in and go by my own child's cues and proclivities. Not what my friend says to do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The contract is for the school year.
My daughter is doing a ballet/jazz combo. There is ALOT of stretching. There is also an optional recital where the costumes cost $50+, each.

For us the rec center didn't have times/days that worked for us. If you are just starting out, I would start with the community center. They don't usually have a recital that involves costumes, but they may have a year end dance so the parents can see what they learned.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would try the community center option first. Your daughter may or may not like dance. If its something she wants to continue doing then maybe transfer to a studio. Thankfully my daughters school offers enrichment classes for an affordable rate. She seems content with it. Dance studios do cost a lot more than community programs. Don't feel pressured to join a studio. Good luck!


I would try the community center option first. Your daughter may or may not like dance. If its something she wants to continue doing then maybe transfer to a studio. Thankfully my daughters school offers enrichment classes for an affordable rate. She seems content with it. Dance studios do cost a lot more than community programs. Don't feel pressured to join a studio. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you cannot fit these expenses (plus more expenses that you are not yet aware of) into your budget now, you do not need to sign up.

If you can't afford it, don't get started.

It isn't fair to your daughter to get her started and involved in the program and then make her quit when the money runs out.

Don't go into debt for this... remember delayed gratification. Dance is not something you HAVE to do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I would try a lower cost closer to home community center class. See if she likes it.

We have a monthly fee for martial arts. Then when they test there is a testing fee...I nearly died when I was told what the black belt level testing fee was...

Make sure she likes it before investing a lot in dance.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

what is the goal?

do you want your daughter to be in class with this girl .. and you moms can hang out and chit chat while the girls are in class? then go the dance class with your friend.

or do you want your daughter to have the experience of dance class?go to a cheaper closer dance class.

we went to a real dance studuio.. it wasn't expensive.. $36 a month for 1 30 minute class a week.. but .. the class was sept -june.. so it was $360 for the entire year.. costume was about 60 and tickets to recital were 12...each.. so it was about a 500 activity. I was very tired of dance class by spring.. tired of sitting int he waiting room for 30 mintues while the kids dance.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I was in sticker shock for the recital. My 3 years old's costume was $89 (can't really ever wear it again and i am sure the big girls' costumes are more expensive). Also, I had to pay for my own ticket to watch her ($25 for each adult and $20 for my son, if my daughter wanted to watch after her performance it would have be priced less). Also, They have a professional photographer who takes individual and group photos, that that was an extra expense. I paid these items, yet did not sign her up again this year. I found out later the recital is optional.

Normally the local city/community center will have dance classes and there is not an insurance or registration fee.

It might not hurt to ask, but I do agree that long time clients would be first inline for the discounts and favors.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Try the community center. If you find your daughter really loves dance then you can think about more expensive lessons.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Has your daughter ever expressed an interest in dance? If not, I would not bother. Contemporary dance is exactly what you described. Have you asked your daughter if she wants to do it? Volunteering to pay for classes. I think if they did that they would have a line a mile long. If you cannot afford it don't do it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think it's awesome when a family can make sacrifices and prioritize part of the budget for a child to be able to pursue a passion.
but you don't know yet if this is a passion.
can you figure out a way for her to test drive some dance lessons before you commit this much of your (and your mom's) money to it?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It's wonderful that you are thinking so hard about ways to give your daughter this opportunity.

Here are my thoughts:

First, talk to your daughter. See what "vibe" you get in terms of her interest level.

It sounds like she will not be too intent on being in class with the friend's daughter. Which is GOOD for you, because you don't have to stress about "keeping up with the Joneses".

If your daughter seems excited about dance in general, start her off at a free/low cost place (community center etc), and then explore your options at the fancy dance place (payment plans, etc).

If you end up wanting to send her to the fancy place soon, maybe one way to work it into your budget is to make it a Christmas gift? Or a gift from grandma? New leotard in a box with a nice note saying "one month of fancy dance class - Merry Christmas".

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Do the community center classes. It's a fun activity that she may or may not like. There may be girls there that she knows. Since you don't know if she'll like it it's an inexpensive way to check it out.

My oldest grand daughter is taking classes for the first time this year. My daughter got her leotard and skirt at walmart, tights at target, and shoes at Once Upon A Child. My daughter figured why spend a lot of money for equipment she may not use after a couple months.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I think you should try to find a place that is affordable to you. If you were to work at the studio, you must know what your wage is and how that will be deducted from her classes, but it just doesn't seem that serious for a beginner level.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Try the community center - you don't even know if your daughter would like dance! A lot of kids just sign up for stuff because their friends are doing it, and we see questions on Mamapedia all the time from parents who want advice about requiring their kids to continue with programs that are paid for even though the child has no interest or no aptitude. $70 a month is a big chunk of the budget. You'll also have tap shoes, costumes, recital fees, probably the responsibility of buying and selling tickets, gas for the commute, and more! I wouldn't do it if I couldn't afford it or if I wasn't even sure my daughter was interested. That's why community programs are set up - so kids can try a bunch of things, have some socialization and maybe some physical exercise, and see if they have any interest or talent. Unless your daughter is a true prodigy in any area, she doesn't need an expensive, high level program at age 8.

In general, I think it's fine to ask for payment plans - everyone has them, from arts programs to athletic programs to orthodontists. But volunteer work is a little dicey - the center cannot pay its staff or its rent with volunteer hours. You can ask if there are scholarships available. Also make sure that any discussions and application processes are confidential, not something you have at the front desk with the receptionist.

But you aren't there yet with your daughter's interest level not yet assured. She's introverted and may not be at all suited to something that is performance-based, with recitals and large groups. Moreover, your daughter isn't really close friends with this other girl so I don't see why you should feel any pressure at all to sign up for a program so the girls can be together. Let your daughter explore some other programs in different areas, not just dance. The community center may be perfect for that with a variety of choices. It's also okay for 8 year olds not to be in anything organized - it's okay to play with kids in the neighborhood in an unstructured way. An after-school nature walk or a good bike ride can provide plenty of exercise too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

do not sign up for this as a first dance class. Go the park district or ywca/ymca for the first dance class. If she loves it then go from there. It might cost you a $100 total including the outfit. You can see from there whether she likes it or not. then go with the more expensive fancy school

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I would test drive it in a cheaper location. If she LOVES it, then move her to the more expensive place with her friend after x amount of months. Although who knows a cheaper and closer one could be better anyway! If you know it's not in your budget (debt) then you definitely shouldn't do it when she doesn't seem crazy about it anyway. Costs for these things really add up. My kids do Tae Kwon Do at $70/month, but the real cost has been tournaments, uniforms, pads, weapons, weekend special classes, time,'s always something. They both like it but only my daughter LOVES it...I'm thinking of pulling my son for a while to save money and see if he really cares about going back. Ideally I'd send both forever, but budgets are budgets, you can only do what you can do.

Plus, jmo, tap is kind of impractical. Within the same framework as cost we balance value to child's development. Ballet or even modern dance with lots of stretching would be great exercise and body training (unless the modern dance looks really silly-depends on studio)..gymnastics, martial arts, musical instruments for brain....but we've avoided the local dance studio with it's pageant-y costume-y dances and tap stuff just because I don't see how it will benefit kids in long run. Just food for thought on investment...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Our dance lessons pricing goes like this.

$50 per month 1 hour per week
$88 per month 2 hours per week
$105 per month 3 hours per week

then it's just $15 more for each 1 hour class. This is for all members of the family. If 1 child takes 3 hours and another one takes 2 that equals 5 hours per week. The pricing is not individual.

I checked all the OKC websites and many do their pricing like this. It is called a family rate.

The enrollment fee should be a yearly thing so that is something that is not repeating.

I'd call the studio and ask them the questions. Ask them if you can come observe a variety of classes. If she wants to take dance she will need to take a lot of classes over the future. IF she wants to do this I'd ask the studio if they'd let her do just a month trial. I don't imagine they would but it's worth asking them.

Truthfully, about the cost, IF IF IF they have any scholarships or barter options they are likely going to reserve those for their long time students. If you take your daughter for a while and she's a good student they might be able to find a way to help. But in this economy I imagine many of their students are having to cut back and drop classes. So if they're using up all the possible funds there may not be any money left for newer students.

If a studio has a good reputation students will come from all sorts of places. We have students coming from the area. We have an awesome reputation and students will travel for that. Some travel 20 or 30 miles several times per week just to come here.

I think you have some serious thinking to do. Our money is very very very limited and the kids are in 6 hours of classes per week. I work for the owners to help pay for most of their costs. I make costumes for performances and that is where a lot of my payments come in. The money goes directly through the owners to pay for the kids costs, I do not get paid any cash. I hardly pay anything when all is said and done.

I have 2 grand kids that love the classes they take. However, if one wanted to take a Contemporary dance class I'd tell her that she gets 20 minutes of stretching in her ballet class and she's learning to do turns and other stuff too. She's learning to do a lot in her tap class too. She also takes hip hop class. So I believe she's getting enough basic dance that is necessary for all other styles.

If you can get the owner to allow you to come observe dance classes then you can see overall how they look at dance.

Is it "shake your booty" stuff or is it more "classical" when it comes to basic dance classes like ballet or tap?

One lady told me a year or so ago that the only thing missing from her daughters dance class was the pole. She was looking for a new dance studio. Her daughter was 6 about that time. So different teachers will teach different style. Our teachers would never do something like that, they don't even allow the kids to come to class if they're not in a class leo, tights, correct shoes, and no sweat shirts, no shorts, nothing other than the class "uniform".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If your daughter is introverted she may not want to get up and dance in front of an audience. I would see if it is really something she wants to do before committing to it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If you desire to put your daughter into dance then do it in a way that you can afford. Sounds to me like your local community center may be the way to go. I did dance classes from the time I was 6 years old to 19 years old. It was fun, great dicipline, excellent fitness and helped me be not so incredibly shy but it never altered the fact that I'm still an introvert.

My favorite forms of dance was modern jazz, tap and african. Hated ballet it was just too boring but you do learn so much. It seems like a good place to start.

I also had piano lessons growing up too. My mom always wanted to learn the piano. I wanted to learn the drums or some kind of horn but she had her heart set on the piano. So today I'm a functionally illiterate piano player. I know the notes on the keys, I can read music but still don't play proficiently at all. LOL

All of those learning experiences were more about the experience than the actual learning. You learn alot about youself and others and teamwork and groupwork and the discipline and performing. It's all worth it as long as you can fit it into your schedule and budget.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

If your daughter is a true introvert one of the worst things you can do to her is to make her perform in front of others. Does she want to dance or is this just something you want her to do?

Find the least expensive option and ask if your daughter can sit in on one or two classes to see if she would enjoy it. If she loves it and wants to continue then you are at a place you can afford. If she doesn't like it, you aren't out anything.

If I were you I don't think I would bother asking if I could volunteer at a dance studio to pay fees. They are in the business to make money. A community center might offer scholarships/sliding scale fees.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

No it's not weird to ask about payment plans or bartering for a discount. Our daughter does mixed martial arts and gym memberships can range anywhere from $75 - $150 per month and most gyms want a one-year contract. My husband always, always negotiates a lower rate and a trial period. There was one gym where different instructors rented out the gym for specific classes so if you were a Muay Thai student, you couldn't go to a boxing session without having a separate contract with the boxing coach. She negotiated with the boxing coach to help out with cleaning the gym (sweeping, washing down equipment) for an hour a week in exchange for an hour of boxing instruction. I hate negotiating and it never would have occurred to me to try to work out a side deal but lots of people do just that. It doesn't hurt to ask.

That said, you will still have to be prepared to pay full price for costumes and recital fees and from what I hear, those can easily add up to more than the class fees. If you really can't afford those, perhaps the community center studio would be a better fit for now and if she really likes it, you can look into a more expensive option later.

Finally...when I realized that my oldest son was serious about hockey, I picked up a second job so that we could afford it. I hate being away from my kids for a few more hours on weekends and evenings but it allows us to let them pursue their passions without hitting the rest of our budget.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

What does your daughter want to do? I've had great luck with community resources; the gymnastics at the local rec center was fantastic. That was in Md in Prince George's county. Ask around about your community center and their classes. Look at the Y too; they usually have activities. Often you can set up a pay by class arrangement; I think that's pretty common. Just email their business office.
Ask your daughter what she wants to do; any class will help her socially.


answers from Chicago on

Dance can be super expensive. We left one studio for another because of the rates and costume fees, which they wanted paid in full at registration.

Some studios will allow you to exchange volunteer time for a free class, but it varies. I did that at the old studio so my daughter could take a 2nd ballet class.

You won't know until you ask. Good luck.

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