Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dance in Review

This is the tail end of complementary class week at Dance With Me Juniors in Glen Rock. For those unaware, Dance With Me USA opened up a studio on Rock Road just for kids. Although, as I said in a previous entry, there IS a sign outside that says Zumba, which I think will be offered for adults. Since I am not coordinated and am not interested in Zumba, I forgot to inquire about that.

The new dance studio is really beautiful. Even if they didn't use us for lighting. But I can let that once slide since I'm fairly certain they didn't know we were here when they bought their chandeliers. I was in there when it was Books, Bytes & Beyond and it's literally transformed. Even the bathrooms are nicer than in most homes I've seen.

The class schedule is broken down by age. The age breakdown is that age four is considered "toddler". But E and his friends from school have all been in almost full time school since age two or two and a half. So I take four as more- "four if your child is only preschool for the first time now or isn't in school". Because I wouldn't consider E a "toddler". He's four and a half and been in dance class since he was two and a half.

The next age group is five and six years old together. Those are the classes I had E try because that's more his speed. Same with his friends from school. Hip hop there is on Mondays at 6p right now for that age group. Personally, *I* am ok with that. Because our store is open until 7p on Mondays. I always did swim on Mondays but I skipped it this session. I was only left with Tuesday afternoons after school free last year and I just wanted to keep Monday open too until or unless I found something to do. I figured since it's fall and nice out for awhile longer, we could at least even meet his friends at the park on that day. But, after a long day of school, 6p can be kind of late and for most people it IS dinnertime. E doesn't eat so I don't really have to worry about that.

It was hard on some of his friends who came with us to the trial though. Two of the moms have two year olds also and husbands who commute to NYC and come home  late. So, some of the 4-5 year olds can handle it but now what to do with siblings? I think the idea is to leave the kids there for class and leave. So maybe us moms have to change our mindset of wanting to watch the class?

This is the thing- the set up is odd. I was told that going forward, the way they'd like it is if you'd come through the back door. There is a changing room there and benches. You can see the main ballroom somewhat but it's definitely down a decent sized hallway so you're not really NEAR them. There is another, smaller room right by the changing room and benches. It has a window but it's a real window vs a two-way mirror. If you're sitting on the bench and you're talking the kids the size of the average 5-6 year old, you can't really watch. And they can't see you. But if you stood up, you'd both be seeing each other. I'm a HUGE fan of the two-way mirror. I KNOW E gets distracted and I assume other kids do too. But I also think this is a different kind of dance studio than what the average mom is used to utilizing around here.

I'd say most of the parents I've spoken to at E's age and who have or had kids in dance use Miss Patti, Wyckoff School of Dance, Studio L, Robin Horneff, Central/Byrd School Dance program, etc. They are all differing degrees of "strict" but in comparison to DWMJ,  I think DWMJ is meant to be much more serious. Not better or worse but more serious. I've only been to Wyckoff, but we have a two-way mirror and they assume the moms are going to stay and watch. I mean, they come and get you if your kid needs to use the bathroom. The way it was posed to me at DWMJ, I felt like they would prefer if you just dropped your kid off and left. Not in a negative way but because it's serious and they don't want distractions. Which is fine. But I think most of the parents who have no experience with this type of dance are not used to that thought process. And let's face it, I talk about it all the time- parents can be way more helicopter, cautious, suspicious, or neurotic these days. At least that's what I've encountered. The thought of leaving their kid in the dance studio and going somewhere else for an hour is completely foreign and somewhat unnerving. Lastly, we DO like to watch, at least sometimes. We want to see if our kid is paying attention, if they're any good at it, do they like it, do we like the teaching style, and sorry, sheepishly for a Facebook photo. And I'd have no issue dropping a seven year old off. But right now, E isn't five yet and he does still need help in the bathroom. He waits till the last minute sometimes and when he needs to go, he needs to go. I have to be there in case that moment arrives.

To be perfectly honest, I can't really comment on the quality of the dancing. I know nothing about dance. He took Hip Hop and I guess that's what they were doing. He took Euro Ballroom and that seemed pretty hardcore. It was no joke. And I like that. The kids got lightly reprimanded for not paying attention. Crack that whip! I love that. Tough love! BUT, we also need to realize, it's 6p-6:45p. E was actually yawning. That's not him being just under five. That's having had a seven hour school day, then going to the park, then the class. If the class was at 4p, 4:30, 5p, I wouldn't have taken him to the park. I'd have either gone right to the class or come home first. But I need to do SOMETHING between 4p and 6p. So, all the kids, who were all older than him, or at least the other boy, were distracted and sort of hit the wall halfway through the class.

The teachers all look like supermodels and seem very knowledgeable. I can't comment on whether they were doing it right, but I was just mesmerized by the blond girl teaching the Hip Hop class. I was more daydreaming about what it would be like to walk around everyday in regular life looking like that. The blond male teacher practically glides as he walks. If you based it on how they look and their body language, these teachers look the part and every bit the same as the dancers you see on TV.

The biggest pro of all that I see has nothing to do with dance. It's that people are curious, there is brand recognition with the name and the Dancing With the Stars associated with it, and IT WILL BRING PEOPLE TO GLEN ROCK. And that is just what Glen Rock needs. Everyone has been upset about the businesses going belly-up, empty store fronts, and not having much to draw people into the downtown. What we do have to offer now are some really cool, niche businesses that other towns don't have. Custom lighting, juicing cafĂ©, grandfather clock sales and repair, vacuum/sewing machine sales/repair, and ballroom (and other kinds) of dancing. Of course, just as it would be, we now have two dance studios of that nature on the same street, but whatever. I guess a lot of people enjoy dance. We just did all the chandeliers and pendants in a new dance studio that just opened in Nyack, NY so I am thinking it's popular.

Anyway, all in all, it's a positive review for DWMJ so far. My cons are few. I have three:

1. The schedule. Classes for 5-6 are 6p. Seven to nine year olds are at 7p, and so on. That's getting late on a school night. I don't know if I'd like my 10 year old taking an 8p class. Maybe once they gauge interest, they will modify the schedule. Although, for a working parent, it may work to have the later classes. Or maybe they'll have two choices- a 4p and a 6p, at least for the little ones.

2. The set-up, which I explained for the most part. But in addition to not really being able to watch your kid's class, it isn't clear that you're supposed to enter through the back. But if you do enter through the front and a class is going on, you're walking right into the middle of a class. That has to be kind of awkward and break their concentration. The front desk is right there by the door and if you have questions or signing up or whatever, you'd be talking. Talking right through a class. I'm sure with the music, maybe it would be fine? But then you'd have to yell, I'd think, if the music was loud enough for someone just walking in not to be noticed.

3. Cost. As I said, most of us are used to the local dance schools for kids. As far a I know, all that I mentioned are a year commitment for approximately $450-$600, not including costumes or recital tickets. One class a week per dance specialty (ballet, jazz, acro, etc). DWMJ is UBER-convenient for me. It's literally walking distance from my store and like a two minute drive from E's school. I would love for him to take Hip Hop or even the Euro Ballroom. There is just NO WAY I could afford that. Obviously we all have priorities. If I really expected him to be D'Angleo of D'Angelo and Amanda from America's Got Talent, I guess I'd make it a priority. But we work and we need to send E to full time camp in the summer. His other activities can't be so expensive. And unfortunately, DWMJ opened just now, in September, when many of us have already made a yearly dance commitment somewhere else. When you've already spent $500+ for a year, it's a big decision to do this too, monetarily speaking.

I know they already have a following. I spoke to moms who came from kind of far away. One said something about coming from their old location in Saddle Brook, which isn't far but it's not next door either. And I don't know where she lives just what studio she was using. I met a decent amount of moms whose kids have been doing this kind of dance for awhile, they take it seriously, so I assume they are familiar with the commitment and costs and don't find it surprising in the least. But for the average mom, like my friends and I, we're clueless about this type of thing and were sort of shell-shocked by cost.

The "rule" is two classes a week. There is no option for once class a week. I do understand this. It makes sense that one time a week isn't really going to teach/retain much. They also have options for three and four classes a week. That's what I mean about this being different than what we're used to doing. This seems more geared to becoming a professional or semi-professional, which is a cool option to have.

The 1st semester at DWMJ is a four month commitment, from September-December, of two classes a week. For just those four months is $875.

The 2nd & third semesters are January through the end of March & then the end of March through June and they are both three months long vs the four months of the 1st semester. Cost for the semester for the two classes per week is $655.

Their only special offers are: 10% off for paying in full and/or enrolling a 2nd child. 15% off for a 3rd child.

No comments:

Post a Comment