There's no better feeling than stepping onto a dancefloor without any inhibitions. Maybe you've got a few moves up your sleeve, or perhaps you've finally set your self-consciousness free. Either way, the best way to reach this pinnacle of dance ecstasy is to hone your skills and joy in a class.
To help you in your fearless movement mission, we put our own moves to the test in some of the best dance classes in Sydney. Find your flow shaking your booty, tackling contemporary twirls and grooving to the beat at these six drop-in classes – no experience or weekly comittment necessary.
Sydney's best dance classes
If your body is aching for energetic, grounded movement full of fierce style, reggaeton is your remedy. While you don’t need any experience to join the dancefloor, you will need to throw your body into the beat during this fast-paced drop-in class at Latin Dance Australia.
Luckily, our powerful instructure Debralee Scarselletta is a world-class professional, and has a knack for helping us master the hip grinding, chest pumping, booty dropping and body rolling of this popular Latin dance style. “There’s a definite heaviness and an attack to the movements, but also a beauty and flow in its fluidity,” says Scarselletta.
We get sweaty in loose warm-up grooves before focusing on specific movements for the full duration of a thrumming song. Our thighs are burning after three minutes of booty dropping to the floor, and we discover uncharted territory in our core as we body roll into an aching abyss.
For the hilarious finale, the group bumbles into two circles to pump out freestyle flows. Then we pair off – hello, sweaty stranger, let’s grind – and laugh our way through dual booty shakes until we collapse. “It’s a great outlet, even for us [teachers],” says Scarselletta. “If we’ve had a long day or we’re frustrated or exhausted because we do really long hours in the studio, we love to just get in there and have fun.”
Walking into Sydney Dance Company’s new Ultimo studios can be an intimidating experience for a first timer, but this beginners’ class is well worth the challenge. We spend at least a third of the time warming up with stomach crunches, bicycle legs and big arm motions, before our teacher Vi Lam moves the class onto ‘progression work’. Groups of four dancers begin bending their legs and sashaying across the room to ‘Gimme More’ by Britney Spears. Then the real work begins with a short choreographed routine to Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’.
Lam breaks down the routine into segments, slowing down trickier movements and bringing it back up to speed with the music. He says contemporary dance is about “using the floor, taking big steps – the bigger the more accessible” and musicality. He likens it to karaoke, but you’re using your body to react to the song. “There’s endless ways that you can dance,” he says. “It’s physical, it’s athletic, it’s expressive, it’s got influence from every little dance style that you can think of.”
After repeating the short routine for what feels like four or five times, it might be imprinted in our minds forever. It’s exhausting, a little frustrating when you’re not quite getting a move, and exhilarating. By the final turn we’re simply going with the music, which seems to do the trick.
It’s a wonderous sensory overload when you hop off the lift at Crossover Dance Studios. You walk through graffiti-clad freestyle spaces where synchronised dancers bust incredibly fast hip hop moves to a constantly flowing electro-funk rhythm. Once we get into our Popping Beginners class, we quickly learn it’s not as effortless as they make it seem.
Popping. Is. Hard. The foundation movement involves contracting muscles to a beat – it looks as if tiny electric volts are jolting through your arms, legs, chest or neck. The first half of this one-hour class is dedicated to getting newbies accustomed to the style, which came direct from Fresno, California in the early 1970s. We focus on leg bounces, travelling while we pop and arm movements. It’s repetitive, but Keanu Wardana, our tireless teacher, says it takes time to master the style, and besides, “simple is good, simple is funky.”
Soon, we realise he's tricked us into learning a routine. He slows the pace down for new combinations and continuously reconfigures the sections for a mix’n’match of moves. At the sweaty end, we don’t think we’ve mastered the hits, ticks and pops that are the foundation of this hip hop, funk variant, but we’ve had a great time trying. And the brilliant, infectious mood at Crossover makes us want to come back for more.