Seeking dance school without extravagant recitals

My two children attended classes at Van der Zwaan dance school this past year. They loved the classes, but the recitals weren’t right for our family. I am looking for a dance school (particularly ballet) that doesn’t have Zwaan’s style of extremely costly (time and money) recitals every year. If you have a recommendation, please describe the recitals including cost if possible. 

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

Try Danspace in Oakland.  Free recitals.  No costumes.  That was about 7 years ago.  In the studio, guests sat on folding chairs.

Most schools have participation in dance recitals as "optional" but when 90% of the regular class time is spent on rehearing the recital dance it feels like they must participate.  So I would look for schools where class time is spent learning to dance, not learning one dance.   At Berkeley Ballet Theater where my child is a student, participation in recitals IS optional.  You can not participate in the Nutcracker or Spring recitals without noticing a difference- class is still the same and did not include preparation for the recitals at my child's level (cannot speak for others).  If you do choose to participate in the recital, you need to pay a recital fee (I think about 150) but it includes about 8 additional rehearsals on the weekends (tasteful costumes are provided for the show but not yours to keep).  There are also several dress rehearsals the week of the shows and a charge for tickets for recitals.  So they are not less time or money at all, but something you can forgo knowing that your child is still getting excellent ballet instruction.  Another great thing about BBT rehearsals and recitals is that they start and end exactly on time, are a very reasonable length of time, and demonstrate high quality dancing.  Having sat through many dance recitals at multiple places, this is something I really appreciate!  Hopefully you'll hear from others who can speak about other non-ballet experiences, but if you are looking for ballet instruction I really recommend BBT.  

I would highly recommend Shawl Anderson Dance Studio. Performances are low key and there have never been any costs specifically associated with the performance at the end of the session.  https://www.shawl-anderson.org/ 

Shawl Anderson would probably be a great option for your family— I believe you opt-in to performances and it’s for the older students!

My daughter has been attending Danspace in Rockridge for the last 11 (!) years and the recitals happen once a semester, in the studio, for about 1/2 hour.  No extra cost, no extra time.  Families are asked to bring a snack to share for a gathering at the studio afterward.  As my daughter has gotten older, she has participated in the Secret Nutcracker which does require extra money (about $100) and an extra one time a week Saturday rehearsal. But this is optional.  There have been other opportunities to participate in dance productions, but we've found them to be really reasonable with regards to money and time.  In fact, we have never paid extra for costumes.  I don't know how they do it, but they provide the costumes.  Danspace is a small, low-key, but well-run studio that has given my daughter a great foundation in dance, while building her confidence.  She feels like she is part of a caring dance community.  Check it out: https://danspace.com

East Bay Dance Center. No $$$ recital fee. My child goes here for hip hop dance but they have ballet as well. 

I highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet.  My daughter started four years ago at age 4 in pre-ballet and is now in their pre-professional program.  The teachers are amazing.  It is serious, high quality ballet instruction, but the teachers are very experienced and appropriate to the age they are teaching.  They did great with my daughter when she first started and was a bit of a firecracker.  For pre-ballet, there are no recitals, only a quarterly 15 minute observation of the class for parents.  In the pre-professional program, they put on an impressive Nutcracker performance, a spring concert, and a summer performance.  These are tasteful, high quality performances and are included in the annual performance fee.  Additionally, the tuition is reasonable, and the policy for make-up classes for the pre-ballet levels is very flexible.  We love it!