New York City has long been known as a global capital for the arts. Home to hundreds of museums and cultural institutions, scores of theaters, and a world-famous symphony orchestra, the city is a hub for visual art, music, theater, and, of course, dance.
If you’re a dance enthusiast, you probably already know that no visit to New York City is complete without an evening of live dance performance. Surprisingly few visitors, though, are aware of the opportunities New York provides to advance from spectator to participant. The community-oriented drop-in classes for adults offered at many Manhattan dance studios are truly one of New York’s cultural treasures–adult ballet lessons are available everywhere, but New York is one of only a few cities in the world where adult non-dancers can take classes like Dunham technique or Rommett Floor-Barre®.
While the prospect of adding a dance class to your New York itinerary might seem silly or even intimidating, it’s actually a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local dance culture, and the wide variety of classes on offer means there’s something for students at every skill level, from first-timer to seasoned ballerina. If you’re ready to take the leap, stop by one of these three studios for a truly New York dance experience.
Located at 74th and Broadway, “Steps” (as dance insiders call it) is a New York institution. The school, which houses eleven studios in three stories’ worth of building space, was founded in 1979 and has a serious Fame vibe, with narrow wood-paneled hallways and creaky windows. But while the facilities are old-school, the training is first-rate; the teachers are all retired professionals who also work with New York’s major companies. In fact, if you take class at Steps during the summer, when ABT and City Ballet are on break, you’re certain to bump shoulders with company dancers trying to stay fit during their time off. Interesting courses for beginners include Broadway Jazz, Bollywood, and Gyrokinesis.
The Peridance Center has a particularly varied modern dance catalog, offering classes that explore the breadth of modern technique. Since many of these dance styles originated in New York, the modern dance program at Peridance is a study in the local evolution of the genre. Try a class in Horton, Simonson, Limón, or Graham technique–Limón in particular isn’t available almost anywhere else. Peridance’s neat, functional facilities are located near Union Square.
The Ailey School, the training arm of the famed modern dance company, offers adult classes through the Ailey Extension in addition to is pre-professional curriculum . The company is known for its interest in dance traditions of the African diaspora, so it’s no surprise that Ailey’s best classes are in Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and West African dance. The modern, minimalist studios are located near Columbus Circle and feature floor-to-ceiling windows. Since most open classes are taught on the sixth floor, this means you’ll be dancing with the Manhattan skyline as your backdrop.