Dance Studios vs. High School Dance Teams

by Danielle Hernandez on March 28, 2019


If you are a dancer at high school, you might be facing the dilemma- whether to stay and train at your studio or to join the local dance team. It is a frequently asked and often debated question, as both disciplines are unique and provide ample opportunity for your growth as a dancer.

If you are not sure which one is better for you, to make your decision easier, let’s raise the curtain a bit and take you inside both the worlds for a sneak peek!

What is Studio Dance All About

What is Studio Dance All About

Most dancers start with studio dance at the age of three and go all the way through adulthood. Although children and adults can begin at any age and get to perform at the end of the year in a recital. Studio dance readies a dancer for life as a professional dancer, choreographer or a dance teacher.

A wide range of classes is available for different abilities and ages. Studio dance focuses on the art of dance, and how the dancer can perfect the technique with artistry to match. What you see in a professional dance company is mostly learned as a studio dance.

In a studio, a dancer is taught to be a well-rounded dancer and work on each discipline correctly. The focus is always on technique and classes are structured. But there is still a lot of flexibility and a more relaxed atmosphere than preparing for a competition. Tradition is the key in most studios, and working to master the technique with artistry is their goal.


Most studio dance classes require dancers to wear traditional dancewear. For example, ballet students need to tie hair in a traditional ballet bun, pink tights, pink shoes, and a leotard is the standard attire. Jazz students have to dress up in a leotard and jazz pants, while hip-hop students can go with anything.

While during year-end recitals, studios require students to wear costumes, and often these costumes are accompanied with additional sparkle or accessories.

Training at Dance Studios

Studio training hours vary from student to student and also within studios. For young kids, most studios start with offering a variation of creative dance for 3-year-olds. Studios are offering Mommy and Me classes as early as age 2.

By the time children are in the age group 4-5, they move on to ballet/tap class. At about 6, most kids can take jazz, ballet, tap, and hip-hop. Contemporary dance is not allowed until they have done enough ballet or at least they are 9 or 10.

Most studios have their traditional training curriculum. To advance to the next level, dancers must have a solid foundation and proven prowess. However, the curriculum is often flexible depending on the progress of the class as a whole.

A typical studio class routine goes like this : Beginning with a warm-up that focuses on flexibility, moving across the floor and working in the center on technique, finally ending with learning a bit of dance. Teachers spend 15 minutes warming up, 20-25 minutes on technique, and another 15-20 minutes on choreography.

Studio Dance Styles

Most studios do not teach tricks or acrobatics, and if they do, there are separate classes. In a studio class, most emphasis is on learning technique. You could see this during recitals, but it doesn't tend to be a lot of pirouettes, jetes or leaps. Equal emphasis is given to technique, performance, and artistry.

Pros and Cons of Studio Dancing

 Pros Cons
Atmosphere - Even if a studio is professionally focussed, there is little or no pressure of scoring. The atmosphere is solemn towards dance, and the objective is merely to improve oneself. The only competition the studio dancer has is with oneself. Instructors can give more personal attention to developing the technique of the dancer. Time-consuming - Studio dance is excellent in the beginning years, but as a dancer starts school and other activities become part of daily routine, maintaining consistency is often a challenge. Especially around recitals when the pressure to rehearse and manage studies, for example, is tremendous.
    Quality - Studio dancers have a strong technical base because of hours spent on perfecting it. The focuses in a studio class are on improving body awareness and develop a strong technical foundation. Skill progression is emphasized along with building strength and flexibility. Studio dancers learn choreography to musical cues and lyrics. They also excel in improvisation and as soloists. Size - Although studio dance typically works on skill levels of dancers, there are always more students and classes are often lengthened or moved owing to the size of the studios. Although most studios tend to avoid such situations, accommodating full classes and ensuring students get all the attention sometimes is a challenge.


    What are Dance Teams All about

    What are Dance Teams All about

    Dance teams or dance squad, at schools, are very popular in all high schools. Originally the trend started to promote school spirit with dance. Most teams would perform during half time of basketball and football games. Many high schools have dance teams performing during pep rallies and short dances on the sidelines to bring the spirit and energy.

    In recent times, however, the focus has shifted to high school or collegiate competitions. Dancers are groomed in various categories like jazz, Pom, High Kick, Hip-Hop, and contemporary.

    Owing to strict rules and regulations for performing a specific dance style as well as for the safety, the dancers are required to complete a set of routine moves creatively choreographed for versatility.


    Dance Teams have various uniforms. Traditional teams have a skirt uniform like a cheerleader would wear and a pant uniform in which to perform. Recently, jazz shoes have become very popular for on-stage performances, but on the field, teams still prefer dance sneakers.

    For competitions, most teams have a costume for each event. Dance teams in school events have a little more casual look with makeup and hairstyle. However, during a competition, they are always identical. Hair is almost always worn securely back unless the choreography demands a different style.

    Training for Dance Teams

    Training for dance teams varies from school to school. Some schools conduct auditions and take dancers who have some prior training to form the group. Some schools give the opportunity to inexperienced dancers; train them to move up to varsity level teams.

    Many dancers, who start with studio training, stop taking studio training after making it to the school dance team. Some school dance teams hold their technique classes or exclusive classes with a local studio.

    Dance Team Dance Styles

    Each team has a unique style. However, most dance teams prefer strong, bold, linear lines of arms and legs. Formations (where the dancers stand) are crucial as the distance between dancers and viewers is high. The choreography is big and bold, with unique formations as well as transitions (how they move to their next spot),

    Pros and Cons



    • Dance team promotes team spirit, a support system and a family atmosphere as the team spend most of their time together. To get along with each other and encourage mutual respect and unity, dance teams have bonding events like family picnics, sleepovers, etc.
    • The dance team is an excellent way of preparing to become a professional NFL or NBA dancer in the future.
    • Performance wise, dance teams teach a dancer to emote and connect with the audience over a great distance.
    • A Dance team is all about uniformity of movements.
    • Dance team does little to further the technique of the dancers. There is a lot of infighting, politics, and drama within the team and is damaging to a dancers self-esteem.
    • It is hard to shine or stand out as a dancer due to the non-negotiable emphasis on perfect synchronization as the goal of the team is to look like one dancer.
    • The schools do not fund most teams, and team members may have to collaborate and work together on fundraising projects.


    A studio dancer may become well versed in different styles, be technically sound and have a strong sense of the individual expression; a dance team member will have precision, enhanced focus and social skills both on and off the floor.

    Dancers from both backgrounds have ample opportunities in the professional world. Studio and dance teams are not mutually exclusive, and if you participate in both, you will be even better prepared for the professional world.

    By joining a team, a studio dancer can learn to move as a choreographer intends, gain improved spatial awareness and experience what it’s like to be one part of a greater whole. The dance team member can continue to grow their potential, maintain their technical focus, improve expression and stay in performance shape by involving in a class at a studio.

    Whatever decision you make, remember it is for your passion and love for dance, and you can’t go wrong with it. If you wish to prefer one over the other, you can always make the switch at the end of the year.


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