For Parents

Welcome Parents!

Your children are our special focus.  At BalletNova they will not only learn to dance, but increase their physical fitness while expanding their artistic horizons. They will also forge friendships that will last a lifetime, and be a part of a community that will support and enrich them as they develop– many of our students call the center their “second home!”

The BalletNova Center for Dance (BNCD) training philosophy is to provide excellence in dance education at the same time as nurturing the individual. We strive to create an atmosphere based on mutual support and respect where every dancer has the opportunity to grow as a person and as an artist. Even our very youngest students are expected to learn in every class – we prepare our curriculum carefully so as to ensure the students are equipped to progress.

As you become a members of our studio family here are some things to help you and your child be prepared for success, as well as a Parent Handbook for you to read through. 


Although we know that getting to class in the late afternoon in the Metro DC area is always a challenge, nevertheless--- it’s important to get your student to the studio in time for class, and if possible 10-15 minutes early. If a student is more than 10 minutes late for class, they will not be allowed to participate – this is because, if they miss the warm-up at the start, they are in danger of injuring themselves.


What a dancer wears to class is important.  Each class has a specific uniform that the dancers are required to wear (see the dress code for details - link to dress code). The uniform helps create a sense of discipline and order at the same time as allowing the teachers to see what their bodies are doing. All female students taking ballet classes are required to have their hair secured in a bun, with pins and a hairnet. If the hair is too short for a pony tail, then barrettes, clips or hair bands may be used to keep the hair out of the face. This is sometimes a daunting task for some, it will require some at home practice. Please ask us if you need help! Jewelry is not allowed – with the exception of stud-type earrings.


Please make sure that your dancer has the proper fitting shoes for whatever class they take.  It is especially important to monitor young children’s shoes, as they grow quickly and you need to make sure the shoes always fit properly.  Please ensure your dancer has the right shoes for the right class.

Nutrition and Hydration

Dancers need to fuel their bodies with a healthy nutritionally charged diet.  Please make sure that this is encouraged at home. If a young child is coming straight from school or another activity it is recommended that they eat a small nutritious snack before class. Rather than talking about dieting, we like to think more in terms of proper nutrition.  Following the basic “food pyramid” with more fruits and vegetables and less sugary sodas and sweets will contribute to your dancer’s general health and energy level.  Sometimes dancers need a little extra protein or complex carbohydrates if they are dancing a lot.  Think in terms of steak, baked potato and salad rather than lasagna, garlic bread, and pie. Students may bring a closed container of water (no sugary sports drinks or juice please) into the studio with them. The front desk has water for sale, if you forget to bring your own from home, and the vending machine has additional healthy drinks and snacks (please bring change).

Classroom Etiquette

In order for all dancers to get the most benefit from their class, they are expected to show respect for their teachers by arriving to class on time, be quiet and attentive, and concentrate on what they’re learning. The teacher will go over the rules of the studio and behavior expectations at the beginning of every semester.

Facility Rules

We have many hallways and corners in our facility – running is not permitted, for everyone’s safety. Students may not bring food into the dressing rooms – crumbs and trash invite unwanted pests. Dressing rooms are spacious, however all students need to make sure that they use the cubbies and keep their belongings contained. Please write the students name in as many items as possible. Valuables are best left at home - BNCD cannot be responsible for missing items. Students may bring a bag into the studio with them containing valuables (phones (turned off), watches, jewelry, wallets, etc.) to ensure their safety.


Each child develops at a different rate. Young bodies grow differently and growth spurts (or the lack thereof) can definitely affect a student’s technique. Rather than comparing themselves with other students, try to have your child think about where s/he was a year ago and see how far they’ve come since then.

Junior Division through Conservatory Division students will get a teacher evaluation towards the middle of the year. Parents are also welcome to request a conference with their child’s teacher or Nancie Woods, the Artistic Director at any time to discuss their dancer’s progress. Please email to schedule an appointment. Younger students will not receive a formal evaluation report, the general rule is that they are progressing well unless you hear from us. Again, parents are welcome to schedule a time to talk with their child’s teacher if they have any concerns.

Class Observations

All youth classes will have a scheduled parent observation day towards the end of the fall semester. This is a wonderful opportunity to watch the entire class, learn about what the students have been studying and get a feel of what they will accomplish during the second half of the school year. At the end of the Winter Spring semester only the Young Children and Youth Divisions will have parent observation classes. The Junior through Conservatory will be involved in the end of year Student Performance. We are delighted to host visiting family members from out of town to observe class, please e-mail to request a date.


If you would like to talk to a teacher or staff member, the best way is to send an email to and your email will be forwarded to the appropriate person. We strive for 24-hour turnaround for email and phone responses. We are also very interested in feedback regarding all aspects of our program – please let us know what you think!

Picking Up and Dropping off

You should plan to have your child at the studio about 15 minutes prior to the start of class.  This allows him/her plenty of time to change their clothes, visit the restroom, and fix their hair. Students who arrive to class later than ten minutes past the scheduled start time will not be allowed to dance. This is because they will have missed the initial warm-up and could subsequently injure themselves; and it is also disruptive to the teacher and the rest of the students.

  • Drop Off - If your child is over 6 years you can just pull up to the portico and drop them off at the stairs.  If younger than 6, you may want to park and walk them in.
  • Pick Up - We prefer that children wait inside in the vestibule, for security reasons. Once they are out of class, we cannot be responsible for their whereabouts and we don't want anyone wandering around the parking lot. Please note the area just outside the portico is for "kiss and ride" only, please do not wait there too long or park in spots that are not marked, as this causes safety issues.  
  • Dancers should always have clothes to wear over their dance attire. Not only is it unprofessional to be outside of the studio in leotards and tights, it could be a safety issue. Dance shoes should never be worn on the 'street', only in the studio. 

Please plan on picking up your child within ten minutes of the end of their class.  If you run into a problem, call the Front Desk - 703-778-3008.


You have a lot of options while your child is in class.  You can read a magazine and get a snack in the Community Room; get some work done quietly in the Conference Room; go shopping at one of the many nearby stores; or schedule a massage with Pamela Matthews.  BalletNova also offers free WiFi access to our BalletNova Community!  Stop by the front desk for login information.


At BalletNova Center for Dance, we work very hard to create an atmosphere of mutual support, caring and respect, and everyone is expected to behave accordingly. Dancers and parents alike are expected to support each other, refrain from mean comments or bullying behavior, and support one another. We are all a team!

The Nutcracker

Any student enrolled in the Junior Division I ballet program and  higher may audition for a role in The Nutcracker.  Placement is at the discretion of the choreographers, who take many variables into consideration when casting.  Those variables include height, age, technical proficiency, stage presence, and past performance experience.   Auditions are held the first weekend of the school year.  All roles in The Nutcracker are crucial to the success of the production – from the smallest angel to a party child to a Flower corps member.  This is a wonderful team building experience for all involved and an integral part of our program. The expectations are high, but the reward is great!

Other Performance Opportunities

All Junior, Senior and Conservatory ballet students perform in the year-end Student Performance.  This year, there are several new youth enrichment classes in Jazz, Hip Hop and Modern that will culminate in studio performances at the end of the semester. Throughout the year there are outreach performances and appearances that dancers will do at the invitation of the Directors. Depending on the choreography in the Spring Concert, there may be some roles for younger dancers.


Volunteers are the lifeblood of any non-profit organization and BalletNova depends on its many volunteers for their help in getting the job done.  We couldn't do it without you! Check out the many opportunities we have for volunteering.


We need your help! BalletNova is a non-profit organization with a very small staff, so parent and adult volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization.  Please help out in any way you can! Be a --

  • Do-er – sign up to be on a committee – help backstage – sew costumes – be a classroom parent – get program ads from your doctor, dentist, hairdressers – plan a special event
  • Donor – your financial support is key to the continued growth and viability of the organization
  • Door-opener-  Who do you know?  Corporate contacts who might be interested in being performance or program sponsors? Local politicians? Community leaders looking for arts partnerships? School or outreach contacts?  Your neighborhood association newsletter with special events listings? Well-to-do patrons of the arts looking for an organization to become involved with? An online Moms/Parent group?  Your local PTA or private school, who may assist in the distribution of performance or Open House Flyers? 

Any questions?  Feel free to contact us! 

Thank you for choosing BalletNova Center for Dance  for your child's dance education.