Chicago boasts dance studios in nearly every neighborhood but, especially if you’re not sure which class is your type, get started at one of these ten biggies. Advance payment for multiple classes saves bucks, and keep an eye out for “open house” events at many, when first-time trial classes are free of charge. Most also offer scholarships, and discounts for practicing professionals.
Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet
The Adult Program at the Joffrey’s sparkling new facility is designed for dancers 15 and up. We’re told, “Whether you are a working professional or someone who wants to learn to dance for the first time, there is a class for you!” Besides ballet, the schedule offers Pilates classes as well as a few jazz, modern, hip-hop and fitness.
10 E Randolph St (312-784-4600, joffrey.com/academy) El: Red to Lake; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Randolph. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 10, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Single class $15.
Former New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Duell is a primary source on classic American ballet, overseeing training in the Balanchine style of ambitious young ones season after season. Taking class in the school’s new digs is a joy: Enormous windows and incredible Loop views make you feel like you’re dancing in the clouds, and there’s plenty of room for warming up and cooling down.
17 N State St, 19th floor (312-251-8838, balletchicago.org) El: Red, Blue to Jackson; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Adams. Bus: 3, 4, 6, 14, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151, 157. Single class $12.50.
The Chicago Moving Company at Hamlin Park Fieldhouse
The second floor of this Roscoe Village Park District building has long been home to one of the city’s most venerable modern-dance troupes. On weekend evenings it’s used as a theater, but mornings and afternoons host contemporary-dance, yoga and holistic exercise lessons geared toward everyone from kids to professionals.
3035 N Hoyne Ave, second floor (773-880-5402, chicagomovingcompany.org) Bus: 50, 77. Single class $10.
Dance Center Evanston
Long a haven for kids dance classes, DCE also has an open program for teens and adults. Director Béa Rashid’s amassed one of the area’s biggest faculties, which includes representatives from Elements Contemporary Ballet (Mike Gosney) and other companies. Study advanced tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and more.
1934 Dempster St, Evanston (847-328-6683, dancecenterevanston.com). El: Purple to Dempster. Bus: 93, 206. Single class $14–$16.
Giordano Dance School
Founded by jazz-dance legend Gus Giordano, this commodious complex has been offering high-quality jazz and ballet training for 50 years. Take classes in Giordano Jazz Technique, ballet, pointe, floor barre, modern, tap, hip-hop, fitness or ballroom dance at a recently opened facility in the heart of Andersonville.
5230 N Clark St (773-275-5230, gusgiordanodanceschool.com). El: Red to Argyle. Bus: 22. Single class $16.
Joel Hall Dance Center
They may have recently moved a few blocks north, but Joel Hall Dancers and Center still boasts children and adult classes seven days per week. The culturally inclusive studio offers jazz, ballet, tap, modern, African and belly dance classes.
5965 N Clark St (773-293-0900, joelhall.org). El: Red to Thorndale. Bus: 84. Single class $15.
Lou Conte Dance Studio
This school occupies the same headquarters as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and was started by Hubbard’s founder, Lou Conte. Weekday morning and daytime classes cater to professional and aspiring dancers practicing ballet, modern and jazz techniques; the evening and Saturday classes are more casual.
1147 W Jackson Blvd (312-850-9766, hubbardstreetdance.com). El: Blue to Racine. Bus: 126. Single class $15.
Old Town School of Folk Music
Old Town takes the cake when it comes to variety: Social dancing classes—singles welcome—include Latin, tango and swing, while solo movement studies are offered in West African, ballet, bhangra, clogging, hula, Zumba and more. Frequent master classes with visiting artists allow you to expand your expertise.
909 W Armitage Ave and 4544 N Lincoln Ave locations (773-728-6000, oldtownschool.org). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Armitage; Blue to Western. Bus: 8, 11, 49, 73. $160 for eight weeks, no drop-ins.
Ruth Page Center for the Arts
Generations of dancers have passed through this Chicago institution, founded by the late heiress and choreographer Ruth Page. Her school took over a former Moose Lodge, which now houses several studios and company offices. Ballet is the house specialty but jazz, Pilates, yoga and wellness-oriented program BeMoved are also offered. Morning classes are geared toward professionals and enthusiasts.
1016 N Dearborn St (312-337-6543, ruthpage.org). El: Red to Clark/Division. Bus: 22, 36, 70, 156. Single class $15.
Visceral Dance Center
Nick Pupillo, a former member of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, opened this state-of-the-art facility a few short years ago. Now a hopping center, the three-studio complex offers jazz, ballet, hip-hop and more, six days a week. Some of the teachers are dancers moonlighting from the city’s top companies, including the Joffrey Ballet and River North Dance Chicago.
2829 N Elston Ave (773-772-1771, visceraldance.com). Bus: 49, 76. Single class $15.