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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.