Dance - Lone Tree,IA

Updated on August 11, 2012
A.S. asks from Lone Tree, IA
16 answers

My five year old has recently expressed a desire to take a dance class. I asked her what kind of dance. She said "American" and started leaping and running around the living room. This child is not graceful or coordinated in the least. Dance is sooooooo not my thing and I am out of my element. Is 5 a little late to start? Anyone have clumsy child who takes dance lessons? If so, does he/she enjoy it or is there a great amount of frustration? Can anyone recommend what style of dance would be best for a beginning 5 year old?

I looked at a local studio. It offers ballet, jazz, tap (to which I say hell no), hip hop, dance team/poms.

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So What Happened?

I'm going to contact some studios/dance classes on Monday to see what they recommend and check their fees. Of course I'm not going to stop her from dancing just because it isn't my favorite thing in the world. If she wants to do it, she should do it. I just do not like tap. Never have. I don't like watching it or hearing it. It is just one of those things that I don't like. But if she wants to tippity tap away I will grin and bear it.

I'm thinking we might try to start her on ballet and then, if she enjoys it, move on to jazz.

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answers from New York on

Definitely NOT too late! I would say any style of dance at that age .... they're not really doing anything too serious yet.

Personally, my vote would be for jazz ... ballet is more formal, and I'm not into the whole pom-pom scene ... but it's a matter of taste / her personality.

Do whatever's convenient for you. If she's really not coordinated, the dance classes probably won't last. :-)

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answers from Charleston on

I'm a dance teacher (specifically preschool-elementary - ballet, tap & hip hop) and it's never too late to start lessons. In fact, dance can help with coordination and gross/fine motor skills! If she's interested, let her try it for awhile. Ballet teaches the basic foundations of almost all dance genres, while tap teaches rhythm and musicality. Don't give up on tap - it can teach how to process things more quickly mentally which comes in very helpful when learning things like times tables in school. (they have to be able to pick up and repeat steps/rhythms just like processing multiplication) Both genres teach discipline and how to follow instructions in a group setting. What's so bad about that? You mentioned she's high energy - maybe look for a young hip hop class where she can bounce around a little more and there is less "structure".

So let her take for 6 months to a year. She'll figure out if she wants to stick with it long term, or it's not HER thing. Don't brush it off because it's not YOUR thing. Give her some choices. It's time. :)

Good luck, and here's hoping to seeing pink tutus in your future. ;)

@NikkiG - all dance studios are not "DanceMoms" or stripper/harsh makeup style. There are PLENTY of those to go around, but don't categorize us all! My studio doesn't allow 2 piece, stripper-esque costumes or dancewear. In fact, if a child wears it, their parents and the child are asked to leave. Sorry you have a bad impression of the dance world.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi! I really have to add my two cents---

My Sarah was five when she started. She is doing wonderfully well despite her advanced age when she began. Oh, she's almost 17 now.

Are there coordinated five year olds? My 56 year old husband has woken me two days in a row because he clumsily kicked a milk crate full of bottles.
Sarah can glide across the stage in her pointe shoes but still stomps through the living room, it's an enigma to me.

Please don't cut your children out of opportunities because they aren't your thing. It is their life, not yours. We have an obligation to present the world to them so they can find their passion.

Tap is happy and vibrant. Watch some Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly movies and see if you aren't smiling at the end. I'd be happy to ask Sarah to tell you her favorites.

To find a studio, ask around and go looking at them yourself. This is a good time for open houses. Sarah is not where she started, it is not a lifetime commitment. Find someplace that matches your daughter for where she is now.

ABOUT THAT DANCE MOM SHOW!!! Yes, I meant to yell. Horrified, just horrified. Do they wear stage make up on stage? Yes, of course. But they do not dress like sluts, act like sluts, or dance like sluts as that show portrays. I haven't been to a million competitions (often their teachers pile them in a van for the day) but I do go and have never seen what I have seen on TV. Does it exist? Obviously yes, but I can assure you you do not have to take part in that behavior. UGH, it makes me so mad that there is now a giant segment of the population that thinks that show is what dance school is all about. I'll quit before I lose control!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I just signed up my daughter for dance, because she's been begging me to take it. She did a 6 week short-take class for preschoolers for ballet and loved it, so now we are doing the year-round beginner's level class and she just turned 5 too. We are doing ballet and tap - ballet is good because it is a good foundation from which to start from, and from what I've been told, the girls really love tap and have a lot of fun with it.

Don't discount dance just because you didn't take it or she isn't the most graceful child in the world - I mean, none of them are this age but with practice and instruction, if they are really into it, they get better. I wouldn't do hip-hop, because I think it might be more provocative for their age than they should be, but I don't understand why you would be against tap. Dance is totally out of my element too (I took piano and then marching band and never did any dance as a kid) but I figure if it's something my daughter could really enjoy, why be against it?

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answers from San Francisco on

We are a ballet-crazed household. Both of my girls are in a pre-professional program at a professional ballet company. 5 is definitely not too late to start! In fact, serious ballet training doesn't start until children are 6. Before that, it's usually "creative dance," which is sort of a pre-ballet program.

If I were you, I'd research a few dance studios in your town. The easiest way to tell if they're any good is to ask them if any of their more senior dancers attended any Summer Intensive programs this summer, and if so, where. If you hear things like Julliard, Joffrey, Pacific Northwest, Boston Ballet... then you're in the right place. Even if you don't think your child will ever be a professional dancer, you DO want her to go to a place that understands good technique. This will prevent injury, and in the event that she does end up getting serious about dance, she won't have any bad habits to correct.

I'd enroll her in ballet (helps develop muscle control, body awareness, balance, and strength), and actually, YES, enroll her in tap. She doesn't have to wear her tap shoes in the house. :) Tap can be a really fun experience for an exuberant child. (My youngest is a wild-child and a tapper, and the joy on her face when she's on stage is a wonderful thing to behold!)

A good dance program can bring so much happiness to a young child - giving them confidence, grace, and self-discipline. My girls LOVE dance - so much so, in fact, that this summer we did two different summer intensive programs (one ballet, one musical theater). They want summer to go on forever, but alas, today is the last day of intensive...

ETA: Nikki G, oh my gosh! Dance Moms is NOT a representation of a good ballet program! (AT ALL!) There's a BIG difference between pre-professional studios (who focus on technique and discipline) and studios where they focus on competition. Our dancers do wear makeup during performances (where they are on stage with professional company dancers, in full costume, for shows like The Nutcracker, Cinderella, etc), however during the school recital, they don't wear makeup at all, and in fact wear their class level leotards (which are one-piece, legs cut conservatively). There is NO skank at a good studio! Also, the other moms at our studio are nothing but nice and supportive of each other and our children. They don't allow drama, and won't cast your kids in any of the productions if you are a drama queen, period.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Here's my thought process. Usually studios will let you sit in on a class before you sign up for it. Take your daughter to some of them and see which one holds her interest.

5 is not too young. If she wants to do, and you are willing then go for it.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I work in a dance studio in the clothing store to help pay for the kids gymnastics and dance classes.

I can tell you about the lovely ungraceful teen girl who started taking dance at 15. She learned very quickly and when she graduated from high school she got a full dance scholarship to college. She is currently shooting a trailer for a movie....she's going to be teaching my granddaughter hip hop this fall for a couple of months while the regular teacher recovers from having a baby.

A different girl that took dance and gymnastics and started at age 8 just got picked for a big deal school her freshman year to be on their first string cheer leading squad. She is nearly the first one to ever get it their first try out. She is the first one to get on after only one try out their freshman year. Most of the cheerleaders got on the top squad their sophomore or junior year after trying out the previous years. She started late and got a full scholarship to a big name college and got to be on their cheer leading squad the first time she tried out.

That said.

Starting late has nothing to do with their experience.

IF they like it and want to do it that is 90% of the class. Ballet is boring, can you saying boring again???? It is lift your leg here, move it here, place your hands here, lean this way...I can't imaging a little girl not getting bored out of her mind occasionally they need to go to class though. You have to be the boss and literally take them by the hand and make them go on these days. Because the next week they may be doing something amazing that they fall in love with and then they can't wait to go the next time. My granddaughter did this all last year. I told her over and over she was going. I used love and logic stuff and informed her that she had made lots and lots of choices every day and that ballet was my choice. She was going to do it last year and this year then we could talk about her quitting. She finally conceded that she was going to be going.

She has grown in dance so much this last year. She takes hip hop and a tap and ballet combo class. She loves going to every class and even wanted to take summer classes.

I look back and see so many moms who had the same situation. I can't tell you how many moms called to drop classes and told me "She just doesn't want to come". I told each of them they might want to think about just bringing them and leaving them in class for a little longer. Some did and some went ahead and dropped. Nearly every one of those girls are back now, wishing they could do all the cool stuff the other girls in the class they used to be in can do now. They don't get to be in that class anymore either. They are with the younger class relearning some basics and some new stuff. They also have a different attitude. They want to get caught up to their friends so they can be in class with them again.

Here's what I'd say to you if you came in the store asking about your 5 year old daughter taking dance.

I'd say that she might enjoy the younger class combo more to start out with. It's half tap and half tumbling/gymnastics. The kids play in dance but it has it's ulterior motives.

It works like this. Think about the dance The Hokey Pokey. It tells the dancer to put their left hand in, their left hand out, left hand in and shake it all about.

What do you think that dance teachers a 3, 4, or 5 year old. It teaches left from right, it teaches them they are supposed to follow directions, to listen, process instructions and do what their asked, to move around with tap shoes on that can sometimes feel a bit different, and all kinds of brain activity is going on. They are cross wiring their brains. Teaching the left side to talk to the right side....they are doing super cool things while doing this dance.

They might dance to hula music and wear a grass lei. Are they learning the Hula? No, they are learning "I have arms, my teacher told me to hold them over there, to lift them up and make the move like an ocean wave, I have feet they go step together step, step together step...". She would be learning more and more about following directions, processing simple commands, listening, all sorts of needed basic steps that she'll be using the rest of her life.

So, is she too old? No she is a good age to start. Should she do a higher level with her age group or a simpler level with kids her age and below. Maybe. If she is able to do the harder ballet stuff and tap both then maybe. If she does not have any interest in ballet I'd say go with the combo of tap and gymnastics.

That is what I'd tell you if you were asking my and then I'd enroll her in the class you chose.

She would enjoy the class either way. It may not be exactly what she is wanting, sounds like she likes break dancing or hip hop. BUT nearly every instructor is going to want them to have some basic background in ballet, tap, before they will consider them for the higher levels of classes. Maybe even some jazz if they are older.

Go for it, look for a teacher who is not all "Stand here do this, stand there do that, straighten up your back" but more "Hey, I'm going to teach you to enjoy dance while focusing on technique and style".

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answers from Chicago on

5 is the perfect time to start. and don't worry all kids are uncoordinated at that age. she will be fine. they have classes for younger kids but mostly they just stand and stick there foot out and twirl. just mostly learning to follow directions. the frustration is more in the younger kids like 3 yr olds. if she is interested sign her up. start with ballet to learn the basics. then if she needs something more moving sign her up for hip hop. my kids loved dance class. a heads up you might want to start with a park district program which is not mega bucks for your first class. then if she shows an apptitude for it move on to the dance studio

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answers from Los Angeles on

If I had a son that was uncoordinated and couldn't catch a ball, I'd enroll him in baseball or basketball so he could learn. I enrolled him in basket ball. He was never excellent, but he got good enough to play.

I enrolled myself in a dance class when I was a junior in college. I took ballroom dancing for a full year and overcame a lot (most) of my shyness around girls.

If your daughter is uncoordinated, the I'd enroll her in a tap dance class. (Why do you have this aversion to tap dancing?) A year later, I'd enroll her in one of the other dance classes. Around here, an alternative is the Irish dance classes (Think "Riverdance"). I thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids perform.

Its never too late to learn. Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter started last year at 5y (a week before her 5th birthday actually). Contact a school near you. The classes usually have age guidelines. At our school, your daughter would be able to enroll in mini hip hop, and beginning ballet.

You can also check with your community center. They usually offer dance classes at for mini sessions.

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answers from New York on

I say you are never too old to start dancing! Maybe you can find a place that offers a dance overview class. I know they have sports classes that give kids a taste of several different sports. Then your daughter can see what kind she likes. You can also let your daughter look at the outfits! That alone may be the determining factor! tutus?! pompoms?! Fun!

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answers from Dallas on

We didn't do dance. That is NOT my thing. My daughters are 8 and 5. My eight-year-old used to express an interest in dance, but it wasn't an option, IMO. Those places are money pits, and some of the mothers are downright frightening. Furthermore, I'll never be willing to allow my young daughters to dress like strippers and plaster their faces with makeup. A little makeup would be fine, but I've never seen "a little" makeup at a dance recital.

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answers from Tyler on

I have 2 daughters, both began dance, gymnastics and soccer at 3 and/or 4 yrs old. Honestly, there is only so much a teacher can do with a 3 or 4 year old! At about 5 or 6, the kids really start to gain control over their body and begin some muscle memory training. 5 is the perfect age to start! In fact, you have plenty of time to figure out her style of dance, too.

My younger dgtr did basic dance from age 4 to 1st grade, broke her arm and we dropped the class. After a lot of sports and gymnastics (she is as athletically gifted as her momma!) she wanted to take a prep class for drill team in 6th grade and loved it! She is now on her 2nd yr of the city wide drill team and will be on a competitive jazz team with her studio. She's also taking a contemporary class this year, according to my mom so she can learn how to roll around on the dance floor...haha!

Your daughter is NOT too young! I think we try to get our kids involved in activities at much too early an age (I'm totally guilty!) Give a try and have a good time!

As for the costume and makeup, its for the STAGE! Our studio doesn't order anything revealing and makeup is used to prevent the girls from appearing washed out on stage. For anyone to consider this "slutty" implies they have very judgemental attitudes toward the use of makeup at all. Properly applied, the girls should look very much like little girls on stage. And I have a MAJOR problem with anyone who considers a little girl "slutty" based on something an adult put on them. Get counseling for that, please!

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answers from Minneapolis on

My very clumsy 13 year old has been in dance for 9 years now. She no longer falls down the stairs, but she is still clumsy. DH and I often chuckle at how bad she would be if she hadn't been in dance all this time! But she manages to pull it together by recital time, and though she may not be the best out there she still has fun. Our studio doesn't let the girls start jazz until 4th grade. Up till then they focus on ballet and/or tap. A lot of ballet moves are used in jazz. Plus, some of the jazz moves just aren't appropriate for a 1st grader (or at least that's what the management of our studio thinks. she also doesn't offer hip-hop because most the music is inappropriate.) NO, 5 years old isn't too late! I think years 3 & 4 (ages) are kinda a waste. The kids don't really learn much technique at that age. She has the #1 requirement already - desire!

As for finding the right studio for you, WORD OF MOUTH. Each studio is vastly different in their level of 'seriousness', fees, recital fees, uniform requirements. You can always change to a more 'serious' studio if/when your child desires more. Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

If she's high energy don't sign her up for ballet (at first) because she will be bored out of her mind. Jazz, tap or hip hop would all be fun. If she's not coordinated then dance team would probably be frustrating.
If it's something she likes I hope you're able to enjoy it! I absolutely LOVE dance and music, it's such a happy, joyous way to express yourself :)

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answers from New York on

Hip hop and jazz would be great. However once she commits she does the year. I am sure she will love it. Have fun.

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