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If you’ve danced your whole life and are preparing to enter high school, you might have a strong opinion about dance/drill team at your school. There are some who absolutely despise it and others who know they will for sure participate; obviously, having this opinion makes the decision much easier. But there are also many people who are stuck in the middle, who aren’t sure if they should participate or not.

It’s a tough decision. Studio dance is time consuming. High school dance team can take time away from studio dance, yet it can also be rewarding in other ways. Here are the options to consider:

OPTION 1: Stick with only studio dance.

For the serious dancer, this may be a good choice. If you’re used to spending every hour outside of school at your studio (or if that’s what you plan to do), then that leaves little time for dance team.

Sticking with studio dance enables you to give your whole self to your studio dance. You won’t ever have time conflicts, allowing you to be completely dedicated to your studio–and this dedication is something that teachers and directors appreciate and is something that will pay off in the long run.

While you’ll miss out on the opportunity to share your passion of dance with your school, you’ll have more time for shows and competitions with your studio.

OPTION 2: Switch completely over to high school dance team.

If you think it’s too much to try to balance both studio and high school dance (maybe because your high school has a really competitive dance team), yet you’re set on participating in dance team, then maybe this is the option for you.

You’ll be sacrificing many opportunities you would have at your studio, and you’ll probably be sacrificing your chance at being a professional dancer (which probably isn’t your goal anyway, if you’re considering this option). But you’ll be able to give it your all to the team and maybe take on leadership positions with your full commitment.

However, be sure to check with your coach before pursuing this option. For some high schools, dance team is expected to be basically “be” the team members’ studio dance; it requires full time commitment. For others, team members are expected to be training at a studio.

OPTION 3: Juggle them both: studio dance and high school dance team.

This option isn’t for the faint of heart. If you can’t quite give up studio dance where you’ve spent your childhood or if you can’t give up your hopes of pursuing dance in the future, yet you still want to get involved at your school, this may be the option for you. But it won’t be easy.

Depending on the rigor of your high school dance team program, this decision will be more difficult or more easy based on the time commitment of dance team. If it’s a small time commitment, it won’t be a large adjustment. It also helps if dance team practices are before school or at times that don’t conflict with your studio.

But be prepared to make sacrifices. You probably won’t be able to be in every dance for your competition team at your studio anymore, and likewise, you probably won’t have time to take on every leadership position of your dance team.

You’ll get both worlds, but you might not get the best of both worlds.

But it isn’t impossible. You might be able to find a way to be dance team captain and still have the lead role in your studio shows. It’s difficult, and it will require sacrifice, but it all depends on how much you’re willing to give.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to making a decision, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons yourself. Speak with both your studio teachers/directors and, most importantly, the dance team coach–to see how big of a time commitment dance team at your school truly will be. Research the dance team program, research the types of girls who participate in it, research the alumni of the dance program, etc.

Personally, I spent my first year on the junior varsity dance team at my high school as I continued to dance with my youth ballet and studio classes every day after school. This worked for me because our dance practices were mainly before school, but it was stressful. Once I made varsity, I ultimately dropped studio dance–but that’s mainly because I am involved in several other activities. I still had the chance to take classes at my studio every once and a while as well as during the summer. It was a good balance for me. Most of my teammates continued with studio dance, all to different degrees. For some, dance was their life; all they did was dance team and studio dance. For some, they were involved in other activities so did studio dance as much as they could. Some of my teammates were like me and didn’t do much (or any) studio dance, although we were all trained. And there are girls at my school who aren’t on dance team and simply live at the studio. It’s all a matter of preference.

Ultimately, though, you can’t go wrong. If you decide to stick with studio only, you won’t regret it. You’ll have your studio dance friends to always fall back on, and you’ll have tons of fun participating in shows and competitions. If you decide to do only high school dance team, you’ll love every second of it. You might think about studio dance every once in a while, but you’ll look at where you are with your dance team and realize how much you love it. If you do both, you’ll be happy with your decision as well.

And if you’re not happy with whatever decision you choose to make, all you have to do is finish off the season and change your decision for the next year.

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the author

Annie Schugart is a high school senior from Kansas City, but she will be heading to the East Coast next year to attend Harvard. Annie is editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, plays flute and was a part of the U.S. Army All-American Band, is the president of the National Teen Council, loves to dance, and is an avid tie-dye enthusiast. She hopes to run for president in 2032, and she hopes someday you'll join her and the world will be as one. ☮

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  1. Chris on March 4, 2015

    My daughter is in such a dilemma- she didn’t make the school team last year (extremely competitive) so she switched to a comp dance studio for the year with the intentions of doing it for a year (she’s only 10) and switching to the school team the following year. Now that she’s into it she is loving it!!! she has also grown considerably as a dance. I have no doubt she would now make the school team but now she’s not sure if she wants to leave the studio (more comps, more dancing, new friends) She’s really torn!!! We can’t do both schedule wise. Such a dilemma for a little girl!!!! All of her good friends at school are on the school team too.

  2. Lauryn on September 6, 2016

    I was able to juggle the two and actually had more obstacles because my dance team was in my hometown’s school while I went to a private magnet school that didn’t offer sports. However, I am here to say, now being a senior and high school being now senior captain of my dance team and now a 16 year dancer at my studio that it is possible to do both studio and high school dance and still be able to get the best of both worlds.

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