Saturday, January 1, 2011

Where to take class in Manhattan

So it's January 1, 2011.  (1.1.11) I'm sure many of us have made resolutions to be healthier and start taking those dreaded dance classes.  But where to go?  Here are some recommendations from me.

Steps on Broadway:

Broadway Dance Center:

West Side Dance Project:

Ballet Arts:

MMAC (Manhattan Movement Arts Center)

Dance New Amsterdam

Roy Arias Dance:

All of the above mentioned dance studios offer wonderful classes, and everyone is going to mesh with different teachers and classes.  I'm going to discuss my personal recommendations below, but it's definitely worth experimenting with different classes to see where you feel the most comfortable.

What most people would consider the two "main" studios in Manhattan are Steps and Broadway Dance Center.  They are both wonderful studios and share many of the same teachers and students.  Based on my observation, more students at Broadway Dance Center seem to be focused on "theatre dance" where Steps seems to have more "ballerinas" and "competition dancers."  That being said, I've seen ABT and NYCB dancers at both studios and Broadway dancers at both studios.  I have always felt the dance students at both locations are respectful, friendly, and supportive.

STEPS happens to be my favorite dance studio in the city, but I'm more than slightly biased as I work there.  (They have a fabulous "work study" program where you can get unlimited classes for $3.50.  If money is an issue I highly recommend you look into it.)  Some beginner classes I would recommend for starters are:

Zumba with Danielle Pierce (Mondays at 8 p.m.)  This is a fabulous fun way of getting movement in your body!

Jeff Shade's BEGINNING Theatre dance class.

Robert Atwood's BEGINNING ballet.

Lisa Harvie BEGINNING jazz

Germaine Goodson's BASIC tap

Adam Metzger BEGINNING tap

Robin Powell's Pilates (great to find your core!)

I am less familiar with classes at Broadway Dance Center, but I have taken some amazing belly dancing classes there with Amira More.  i would highly recommend those.

Ballet Arts is a wonderful hidden studio!  It is very similiar to Steps and Broadway Dance in terms of teachers, class offerings, and professionalism, but the classes tend to be smaller and more low key and laid back.  I've enjoyed every class I've ever taken there.  If you are at Ballet Arts - check out Stephen Reed's Open Level Theatre Dance class!  You will be hard pressed to find a kinder more comfortable and supportive atmosphere!

MMAC offers wonderful silks classes!  Learn the silks and boost up your special skills set for auditions.

Dance New Amsterdam is more of a "contemporary dance" haven.  I highly recommend Hicks and Eliasberg's classes.  They truly epitomize love for the dance and will foster you as you become the best dancer you can be.

I've never taken class at Roy Arias or West Side Dance Project, but I've been told they are very supportive and good at working with singers who don't have strong dance training or are just beginning as adults.  Many singers who felt uncomfortable at other dance studios found wonderful dance homes at both studios, so they are definitely worth checking out!

The trickiest part about finding a class that is right for you, is that the levels listed on a studio's schedule aren't always indicative of the actual level of the class or other dancers taking the class.  For example, David Howard teaches a beginning ballet class, but it is attended by principle dancers at the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.  If you are unsure about a class, you can always call a studio and ask for class details and what level dancer they recommend take the class.    The classes I listed above are truly beginner friendly.  If a class is listed as "basic" or "absolute beginner" it is typically truly for beginners.

Studios also offer workshops that are very beginner friendly.  For example, Steps offers "A Taste of Tap" which is a truly beginner adult workshop.  If you find a studio you like, check out the workshops they offer.  Here is a link to Steps on Broadway's Adult Introductory Workshops.  Not only are they great classes, but also a great way to make friends who are facing the same dance challenges as you.

Now...stop reading and get to class!:)

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