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Recreational versus competitive dance for children

Recreational vs. Competitive Dance

By Jam Hops, 12/26/23, 4:15PM CST


Recreational versus competitive dance for children

Are you wondering about the differences between recreational and competitive dance? We can help with that! While both recreational and competitive dance for children involve movement and expression through dance, there are some key differences between the two. At Jam Hops, there are four main distinctions, which include cost and time commitment, performances, performance goals, and connections.  

Though there may be some variation based on the dance company, we think this general list is a pretty good reference for comparing recreational vs. competitive dance. Read on to learn the specifics. 

Time commitment and cost 

  • Recreational dance generally has lower costs and requires less time commitment. These classes are often more accessible and affordable for families, and do not involve as many additional expenses related to competitions. They are designed to be enjoyable and educational without requiring a significant time and energy commitment from participants. 

  • Competitive dance involves a higher level of commitment and cost due to more class hours, competition fees, costumes, etc. Competitive dancers often attend more frequent and rigorous classes, participate in recital weekend, and commit additional time for competitions and performances. 


  • Recreational dancers' performance opportunities are much more limited than competition dancers'. Typically, recreational dancers participate only in an end of year recital for their families/friends or will not perform at all.  

  • Competitive dancers perform in multiple competitions throughout the year, along with performing in recital weekend at the end of the season. At competitions, dancers will perform in front of a wider range, including their family, friends, competing teams, judges, scouts and more. 

Performance Goals 

  • Recreational dance primarily focuses on the joy of dancing and personal growth. Performances may be less formal and more about showcasing what the dancers have learned in a supportive environment. 

  • Competitive dance emphasizes achieving performance standards and competing against other dance teams or individuals. Competitions may have a more formal setting, with dancers aiming to win awards and recognition for their skill and artistry. Often, dance companies provide a wider variety of dance styles in their competitive programming. 


  • Recreational classes provide your child with short-term opportunities for connecting with their peers and teachers. 

  • Competitive teams provide your child with the opportunity to create closer, long-term connections with their peers, other dance families, and their teachers. Not only does competitive dance increase your child’s range of experience in the sport, but it also creates a sense of family that lasts a lifetime.  

It's important to note that both recreational and competitive dance can offer valuable experiences for children, and the choice between the two depends on the individual child's goals, preferences, and level of commitment. 

At Jam Hops, we have both recreational and competitive dance for kids ages 2-18 years old. Coming up we have our Spring Session that is perfect for anyone looking to try out dance for the first time, or get some extra practice in at a low cost.

Check out more information about the Spring Dance Session.

Jam Hops Dance Company

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