What does my child need for dance class?

Pink Ballet SlippersYou’re registered, and your child is leaping and spinning around the house in anticipation. What should you bring to the first day of a Mayer Arts class?

Dance shoes — Proper dance shoes are the #1 thing a dancer needs for class.

Ballet class: ballet shoes

Tap class: tap shoes

Hip Hop class: ballet, jazz shoes or sneakers if the location allows (if they are non marking soles and are not worn outside they should be fine)
Combination or multiple-discipline class (ballet-and-tap; hip-hop-and-tap): Child will need shoes for both disciplines, every day of class.

Musical Theatre class: ballet, jazz shoes or sneakers/gym shoes

Dance With Me: ballet shoes, bare feet, or sneakers

Your Mayer Arts instructor can sell you preschool-size ballet shoes (toddler shoe size 7 through child size 1) at the first class of each session or at any time during the year — if you ask your instructor to bring some sizes to try on during the next class. Ballet shoes are high-quality pink leather with a functioning drawstring. They are $20 and the sizes run small, so please try on before buying. Tap and jazz shoes can be ordered at a Mayer Arts open house at the beginning of the session in certain locations.For more detail about sizing, fit, and options in dance shoes, see the bottom of this page.

Clothing — Mayer Arts classes do not have a clothing requirement, but students should wear clothes that allow for full range of movement and provide proper coverage. Many of our dancers like to wear leotards, tights, skirts, dance dresses, or tutus. Leggings or stretchy pants are a great option, especially in winter! If your child chooses to wear a dress or skirt, make sure they have a leotard, leggings, pants or shorts underneath.

Hair — Again, Mayer Arts has no requirement, but a child can dance and move most freely when her hair is secured away from her face. I discourage large bows, clips, headbands and crowns/tiaras if there’s a chance they will fall off or become a distraction.

Water bottle/snack? This depends on the length of class. Classes of 45 minutes or less do not (in general) take a break for water or snack. Unless medically necessary, these items can be distracting in class, so please leave them outside the dance room. Classes of 60 minutes or longer will take a break, but in general only water is allowed inside the dance room. Musical Theater classes that are 2-3 hours per class will take a full snack break. Please make it peanut free.

Security item — If your child is nervous or anxious about dance class, a blanket or special stuffed animal is welcome to join them on the first day. I usually ask the child if their item can “be our audience” and “watch us dance” from the front of the room. This allows the child to keep the item in sight while still participating fully in class.

Don’t forget your excitement, listening ears, and smile! All our Mayer Arts teachers love children and love the arts, and are ready to give your child a wonderful experience.

Expanded info on dance shoes:

There is so much to know about dance shoes! Here is some more information to help you select and maintain proper footwear for your child. You can purchase shoes from us or anywhere that you choose. We do not require a certain brand or color.

Ballet shoes: For most Mayer Arts classes (Wish Upon a Ballet, Musical Theatre, Hip Hop, Dance With Me, MVP Movement), soft ballet shoes are appropriate. Ballet shoes with a leather sole are designed to slide when they need to slide, and grip when they need to grip, allowing your child to spin, tendu and leap without slipping, or harming their skin.

Fit: Ballet shoes are designed to fit snugly, but children’s feet grow quickly, so I advise buying shoes with a bit of extra space in the toe. When you try the shoe on your child — and do try them on, as sizing can vary wildly — make sure your child is wearing the same hosiery (socks, tights, or bare feet) they will wear in class. A functional drawstring allows you to adjust the shoe’s width. Children will often bunch up their toes when they try on new shoes, so ask your child to jump up and down a few times to spread out their toes before checking for fit.

That drawstring: Pull it just enough so the sides of the shoe don’t gap (pulling it too tightly will cause it to cut into your child’s heel). Tie a square knot to hold the knot in place permanently. Experienced dancers will then tuck in the remaining string, to provide a clean look — but many young girls like the look of a bow. If the string is excessively long, you may trim some length after tying. Once the drawstring is secured, the shoe can be donned and doffed without having to tie and untie each time.
Beware: “Ballet-style” bedroom slippers and flats do not provide the stability, support, or flexibility required for ballet class.

Tap shoes are required for a class that includes tap dancing. Tap shoes have metal pieces (“taps”) attached to the bottom of the shoe — one under the heel of the foot; one under the ball/toe of the foot. Tap shoes come in a variety of colors and styles, and are fastened with a tie, a buckle, or elastic.

Fit: You can allow a little room for growth, but make sure the shoe won’t fly off your child’s foot when they kick! Also make sure your child has the proper hosiery every day of class — I recommend socks, for the best comfort and feel.

Break-in: New tap shoes can be very stiff; consider having your child wear them around the house to break them in a bit before beginning class (pull large socks over the shoes to keep the taps from scraping your floor).

Maintenance: Laces, ties, and ribbons sometimes shred or disappear, but are easily replaced with a bit of creativity. New ribbons, shortened shoelaces, and hair ties have all been used to keep tap shoes on. Check your child’s tap shoes regularly.

Slipperiness: Tap shoes can be very slippery! I enforce a strict no-running policy while wearing tap shoes. As children mature, they are able to use their core muscles to control their legs and prevent slippage. Occasionally, a bit of duct tape can be affixed to the bottom of the taps if a child is really struggling with slippery shoes.

Jazz shoes provide the same functionality as ballet shoes, but provide a little more support and a thicker heel. They are typically black and come in tie or slip-on options, and should fit like a sneaker. Some are designed to look very much like sneakers, but with modifications (a split sole; hardened toe) that make them suitable for dance. Jazz shoes can be used in Hip Hop or Musical Theatre classes.

Sneakers/gym shoes/running shoes can be worn in some classes, depending on the facility, the type of class, and the instructor.

Don’t forget to write your child’s name on or in their shoes, especially if they are in a class with multiple disciplines (ballet-and-tap or hip-hop-and-tap) where they change shoes during class.

See you in Class!!!