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Broadway Dance Center
Photograph: Courtesy Broadway Dance Center

The best dance classes NYC has to offer

Looking for the best dance classes? NYC has great ones for every style of dance from tap to ballet.

By Juliet Izon

Do you gaze dreamily at the giant posters of ballerinas from New York City Ballet every time you pass Lincoln Center? Have you always wanted to channel your inner hip-hop dance star? New York’s best dance classes can help you achieve your dream, even if you’ve never donned a pair of ballet slippers in your life. From jazz and tap to modern dance and contemporary movement, there are many ways to get a leg up at the city's best dance studios

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the best classes in NYC

Best dance classes in NYC

Steps on Broadway
Photograph: Courtesy Eduardo Patino

Absolute Beginner Tap at Steps on Broadway

Theater Upper West Side

There’s probably no dance studio more famous than the venerated Steps on Broadway, and no dance discipline channels the Great White Way better than tap dancing. Sign up for its 75-minute Absolute Beginner Tap class, which requires little to no experience. If you’re lucky, you might catch off-duty professional dancers popping into open classes.

Photograph: Courtesy Kyle Froman

Absolute Beginner Horton at Ailey Extension

Dance Modern Hell's Kitchen

Alvin Ailey was one of the most influential choreographers of the modern age, but classes at the Ailey Extension school are doable even for novices. Try the 90-minute Absolute Beginner Horton class, which introduces students to fundamentals of modern dance pioneer Lester Horton’s technique, such as leg swings, deep lunges and lateral stretches. It also features live drum accompaniment.

Mark Morris Dance Center
Photograph: Courtesy Beowulf Sheehan

Intro to Modern Workshop at Mark Morris Dance Center

Dance Modern Fort Greene

Learn to tap into your body’s musicality in this 90-minute class, which introduces beginners to elements of classical modern dance like spirals, contractions and simple floor work. As a bonus, the movements are wonderful for strengthening your core muscles and improving flexibility. Live musical accompaniment and a warm, positive atmosphere make this studio ideal for those who have never set foot inside a dance class.

Broadway Dance Center
Photograph: Courtesy Broadway Dance Center

Basic Broadway Jazz at Broadway Dance Center

Dance Jazz Hell's Kitchen

The classes at Broadway Dance Center are no joke: enrolling in an advanced level requires 10-plus years of training. If you are still learning the difference between a fan kick and a fouetté, try this beginner-level jazz class. Taught by Sue Samuels, who has worked with stage and film stars including Brooke Shields, the class includes jazz isolation techniques and floor work, to the beat of live percussion.

Peridance Capezio Center
Photograph: Courtesy Jonathan Aprea

Beginner Hip Hop at Peridance Capezio Center

Theater East Village

Peridance was the first school to offer professional hip-hop dance classes, starting in the 1980s. Today its program of new American dance classes is one of the most robust in the city, with nearly two dozen instructors teaching everything from urban choreography to dancehall. At the school’s Beginner Hip-Hop class, students learn the same choreography for two weeks in a row, ensuring full mastery before moving on to new moves.

Joffrey Ballet School
Photograph: Courtesy James Culp

Beginner Ballet at Joffrey Ballet School

Things to do Greenwich Village

Founded in 1953, Joffrey has a proven track record in classes from jazz to conditioning, but its ballet program is where it truly shines. Those with a basic understanding of classical ballet technique should try its Beginner class, which involves barre work as well as routines that move across the floor. Dancers also learn to improve their alignment and posture.

Liberated Movement
Photograph: Courtesy Liberated Movement

Liberated Movement

Dance Tribeca

This Tribeca studio is committed to sharing dance with everyone, especially those for whom cost is an issue. Every class here is donation-based (the suggested amount is $10) and no prior dance experience is required for opening-level classes. Its signature technique uses elements of Qi Gong, dynamic stretch and cardio dance for an experience that helps the mind and body work in tandem.

Trisha Brown Dance Company
Photograph: Courtesy Stephanie Berger

Trisha Brown Dance Company Class at Movement Research

Dance Contemporary and experimental East Village

Billing itself as a laboratory for the investigation of dance, Movement Research provides low-cost classes as a way to incorporate the community into its programming. To get a taste of what it’s like to rehearse as a professional dancer, try this morning class taught by a rotating roster of former Trisha Brown dancers. Students focus on breath work and mapping body joints before learning phrases from Brown’s choreographic vocabulary.

Gibney Dance Center
Photograph: Courtesy Scott Shaw

Gaga/people at Gibney Dance Center

Dance Contemporary and experimental Downtown

Gibney's multi-hyphenate space in Tribeca hosts drop-in classes and also serves as a space for performances, talks, and workshops. It’s an ideal spot to immerse yourself in many difference dance disciplines from ballet to contemporary. Gibney is also one of the only studios in New York to offer Gaga, a barefoot, continuously moving technique developed by Batsheva Dance Company choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Merce Cunningham Technique Class
Photograph: Courtesy Janelle Jones

Cunningham Technique at City Center Studios

Dance Contemporary and experimental Midtown West

New York City Center has a fleet of oversize dance studios just a block away from its theater spaces. Among the most appealing offerings there are classes in choreographer Merce Cunningham’s singular style, which stresses rhythmic accuracy and spatial awareness—and is also a killer workout for your core and legs. Devotees should take advantage of the $100 10-class card, which brings each session down to a manageable $10.

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