Dance Studio Etiquette
Just as the language of a ballet class is universal worldwide so is studio etiquette. Whether in Peru or Peregian Springs most dance teachers, whether relaxed or old school strict, will expect similar good manners, grace and dignity and also expect most of the same unwritten rules on studio etiquette. Even if your academic teacher spends a lot of time maintaining discipline no dance teacher expects to do this as they need to be wholly concentrated on helping everyone to become better dancers. Every dance school has their own specific guidelines so when you are new just ask for a quick run down.
1 Arriving early to class is top of the list. Ideally you need to ease out any stiff or sore muscles, warm up your body, do your own pre class stretch and condition programme, find a vacant place at the barre if you are in a new studio, make sure you have everything you need for the class (pointe shoes, a sweat towel etc), switch off your devices, check any corrections you wrote down from a previous class and mentally switch off from any daily problems. Everyone needs a few minutes to mentally focus on the class ahead and what you want to get out of it so preparing properly before class can be essential for progressing your technique.
In a new studio make sure you find out where a free space is on the barre before class and where to put your dance bag etc. Never stow your belongings on the piano or at the front where the teacher stands or sits.
2 Always greet your teacher and pianist briefly when they arrive.
If you are late, then either don't enter the studio at all or enter quietly and wait till your teacher notices you, apologise briefly and quietly and go to your place. After class always apologise properly. Many teachers do not allow latecomers.
Chatting to friends before class is fun and can help you relax during stretching but chatting during class is simply rude to others trying to concentrate on corrections and most teachers find it difficult to teach when students are loud. Chatting to the pianist is also a definite NO.
3 Sitting down is considered extremely bad mannered and is incidentally bad for your muscles. If you have an injury inform your teacher beforehand if you need to sit down and for how long and never sit at the front unless asked but at the back or sides where you are not in the way and NEVER start chatting to the other dance students.
If you have an injury and need to compensate or skip certain movements or exercises always discuss this possibility with your teacher. Also if you would like to do prescribed physio exercises at the back mention this beforehand to see if it is allowed.
4 Don't alter exercises and combinations unless requested or allowed.
After an exercise finishes at the front always go around the sides of the studio to return to your place, never cut across a group of people dancing or learning an exercise. Imagine the studio is a stage and behave as though there is an audience.
Know when it is your turn to dance from the diagonal and be prepared to start. Similarly know when it is your group's turn and remain on the ball. Many teachers don't have time for students not concentrating and gaps between groups dancing.
5 Texting, phoning or taking photos need to be done in the breaks between classes and never during class so do remember to turn your devices off. If you want a photo or video clip during a class for a specific reason talk to your teacher beforehand and make sure you have everyone's permission - fellow dance students, teacher, pianist, choreographer if it is part of a dance and studio owner ALL need to be consulted.
6 If there is a uniform code then WEAR it and if not remember that teachers need to see the lines of your body in order to assist you with corrections and advise. Shoes should never have huge holes, be too old or smelly. If needed wear neat socks over old shoes. Clean dancewear is basic good manners as is tidy hair and no jewellery. Serious injuries have been caused by rings scratching other dance students, necklaces and bracelets breaking and dangling ear rings being torn out of ears etc.
7 Always listen respectfully to general class corrections and try to apply them immediately. Recognise the positive benefits of individual corrections from your teacher. However much you might have been trying or are perhaps becoming anxious from frequent corrections always keep trying to apply the advice. Teachers can easily see whether you are actively endeavouring to follow their corrections and will know roughly how long you might need to master whatever they are trying to help you with.
Never correct your friends during class, save your help for later and be mindful of the years and years of experience and training your teacher has in comparison to yourself.
Always dance full out during class and between exercises try and maintain a dancers relaxed posture. Slumping on the barres, piano or collapsing on the floor is not good form however exhausted you may feel.
8 Acknowledge your teacher by applauding as a group, performing a simple réverence or verbally thanking them before you leave the studio. Always thank your pianist.
Lastly, dance class is where dancers are created, formed, moulded and refined. If you wish to experience a steady rate of artistic and technical progress then respect and follow your studio's etiquette guidelines as well as your teacher's corrections, work positively towards your goals and always respect your fellow dance students.