Guide for selecting Indian Dance Academy

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  When it comes to selecting an Indian dance academy, the choices are abundant in all major cities across USA. With little guidelines, it is hard for first time students and parents to find a Indian dance academy suitable to their needs. Over the years, many dissatisfied students and parents have come to us after investing years at various dance academies with very little progress. Therefore, we have decided to provide our audience with key guidelines for selecting a “Indian dance academy”.

These guidelines are not meant to promote ours or any specific dance academy, but to help students make an informed decision. We sincerely hope to help prevent students from making a costly mistake in terms of time and money.

Not every academy is made same and not every student is made same. Therefore, while these guidelines will help make an informed decision, the decision is still is yours. We do not imply any warranty whatsoever.


Is the teacher qualified to teach?


This is the most important but also the most ignored aspect of selecting a dance academy. Dance is an art, and when it comes to classical, an artist need proper training and education himself/ herself before they can teach others.

Find out about the levels of dance education of teachers the academy employs and specifically about the teacher who would take your class. For example, advanced degrees in classical dance in India is Visharad, Churamani etc.

Also, often your teacher could only be as good as his or her teacher. You teacher has invested years learning with his or her teacher. The names of most well known classical teachers (guru) in India, are search-able in internet for their accomplishments. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask about teacher's teacher and research on him or her as well.

What is teacher's teaching experience?


While dance performance is an art, teaching is an art too. Well qualified dancers also invest many years teaching to gain experience in becoming expert in teaching others.

Once again, find out about the teachers and specifically about the teacher who would take your class. While more the years of experience in teaching it is better, look for a teacher with minimum of five years of continuous teaching experience in the same technique of dance e.g. ten years of experience in teaching Kathak. Be wary of teacher with little experience in teaching or a teacher being a student herself.

What do existing students say?


Ask students of academy about their experience. However, ensure that you speak with at least 2-3 different students for their experience to filter out any bias. You can sense bias when someone provides you with “extreme” views. Be aware that it is human nature to underplay good experience and amplify any personal bad experience.

Be wary about “free advice” from friends and well wishers, who themselves have no experience but their “( anonymous) friend” talk highly or poorly about an academy. Research yourself, first hand.

Are you offered a trial class or opportunity to observe a class?


Though, taking a trial class or observing an existing class cannot translate entire year worth of class experience, it could provide you with an idea. Do not hesitate in asking for one of the above. Be wary of academies who would not provide you with either without a valid reason.

Do they offer structured programs ?


Ask for dance programs academy offers. Most classical dance forms e.g. Kathak have well developed curriculum, levels and examinations for certifications.

However, if you are interested in the “Bollywood” dance program, either you may not find a structured program, or it may be an academy's own creation. Bollywood is not a dance style like any classical Indian dance form e.g. Kathak. It is a mixture of steps from various Indian and western dance forms.

All well qualified, trained dancers have proper training in one or more classical dance forms. They may perform so called “Bollywood” dance, but they still rely on their training of classical dance to teach Bollywood dance.

Therefore, unless you are interested in learning dance performance ONLY on a handful of Hindi movie songs, you must evaluate the classical dance programs.

Do your objectives and teacher's approach match?

It is important that your objectives of learning dance match with teaching approach of the academy. For example, do you like disciplined or laid back teacher? Can you work with a teacher who is highly organized, and expects the same from students with practices, fee and schedule etc?

Most well qualified Indian classical danced teachers have been taught tough discipline by their guru ( teachers) in India and therefore, more than likely they would follow similar approach. Also the teacher may not “bend” rules just for you, or because we are in “America”.

You may want to try an academy and evaluate if you like the teaching approach after sometime. However, if you are convinced that your objectives do not match with the teaching approach of an academy, you will do yourself a big favor by not selecting that dance academy. You decision may not only save time and effort but also a lot of heartburn at later stages.

What about the fee, costume, recital fee etc?

Most dance academies charge monthly or semester wise or yearly fee. Less and less academies offer hourly fees these days. Do not try to evaluate the teaching based on hourly rate. Indian dance lessons are quite cheap in price comparison to various western art lessons. However, evaluate the value of the program as a whole, including time, money and effort of commute, practice etc.

Most dance academies, Indian and western alike, charge fee for costume, recital and performance etc. Similarly, most Indian dance lessons requires Ghugurus ( Bells), Ask for information these fees and expenses while joining, as this should not come as surprise later.

Where is the academy located?

When everything else is settled, location of dance academy and it distance from your home/ work should be evaluated. Typically, you need to commute once a week to any dance academy for the lessons. After considering the distance, commute time, traffic at the time of the class, and possibly other schedule conflict during the year, you need to determine if you are motivated enough to commute the distance every week for about 10-12 months in a year.


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