Culture Clinic: where to see dance in London

Maybe more than any other art form, dance can be tricky to find your way around for the beginner. We've got some suggestions for the best places to catch some fancy footwork in the capital

  • Culture Clinic: where to see dance in London

    'Into the Hoods' (© Hugo Glendinning)

  • The problem

    Dan, SW12 ‘Two old school friends are coming to stay with me. They’re heavily into dance but I’m not at all – I don’t even know which venues to point them to. What I need is “Dance for Dummies” (they’re equally keen on ballet and contemporary dance). Is there a musical where the dancing would please dance aficionados but I might have an enjoyable time too?’

    The prescription

    London is a great city for dance, so you’ll be spoiled for choice, but Sadler’s Wells is always a good bet. It’s our busiest, most diverse dance house. The innovative programming includes the very best of British plus visiting international companies.

    The Place is the venue for good value and to see companies just starting out. No ticket ever costs more than £15, and if you book early enough you can get tickets for just a fiver. The current ‘Spring Loaded’ season is showcasing some two dozen emerging companies under the banner ‘Where Dance is Going Next’. If you want the cutting-edge, this is the spot. Other busy venues to check out include the Southbank Centre and, farther afield, Laban in Deptford.

    There are at least four dance-driven musicals in the West End and they are totally different from one another. ‘Hairspray’ bubbles with the giddy enthusiasm of the early 1960s. ‘Into the Hoods’ (pictured) introduces the subversive, streetwise energies of hip hop to wider audiences. There are also two long-running hits: Bob Fosse’s slick, sardonic ‘Chicago’ is now into its second decade and ‘Billy Elliot’ brings the film to life. Someone might suggest that you go see ‘Dirty Dancing’ – well, it’s your money.

    Do you agree? Post your suggestions for Dan's dance initiation.

    Help us to help you…

    Whether you want to drink, dance, immerse yourself in high culture or stuff your face, London has everything, and our own expert team can help you sort the best from the rest. Email your cultural conundrum to

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