Ballet may be the first style that comes to mind when New York City parents start thinking of a dance class for their tots, but it is hardly the only one available in America’s most diverse city. And hey — ballet isn’t for everyone. But with hip-hop, step, flamenco, ballroom and more offered throughout the city, there’s likely a class in NYC that will give your kid dance fever. Read on for ideas in every borough!
photo: via Mark Morris Dance Studio Facebook page
Ballet can feel a little old-school for kids who move at cyber-speed. So check out some of these more 21st Century (well, at least 20th) offerings, such as Graham, broadway, jazz or contemporary.
Mark Morris Dance Group
Located in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, the Mark Morris Dance Group offers modern dance for kids as young as six years old. The classes, which are accompanied by live music, develop strong creative dancers through the study of technique and improvisation with a focus on musicality, dynamics, floor-work and artistic expression. Student begin with Modern Fundamentals and advance from there. (For a free taste, stop by the popular Dance with MMDG to learn some moves with members of the company as a family.)
3 Lafayette Ave.
Brooklyn Cultural District
American Dance and Drama
This competitive dance school in Fresh Meadows offers kids as young as 6 not only instruction in floor-work, free movement, improv and those all-important jump-turns, but also the vocabulary necessary to continue their dance education anywhere.
188-22 Union Turnpike
Peridance Capezio Center
For the young dancer who appreciates complicated, physical patterns both on the floor and upright, these classes cover not just Graham, but also Horton and Limon techniques, along with a generous dose of personal expression.
126 East 13th St.
Lower East Side
photo: knitsteel via Flickr
From Bojangles to Shirley Temple to Savion Glover to everyone who Thinks They Can Dance, this discipline can be as diverse as the personalities tapping. Spots to get your kids hoofing it up include:
Next Step Dance Studio
Not sure if you’re ready to commit to shiny shoes on hardwood floors? This Staten Island studio offers tap as part of a value class along with other styles for kids from ages 3.5 up through 6th grade. However, if you know that tap is for you, you may only take that portion of the class. It’s up to you!
6264 Amboy Rd.
American Tap Center
No splitting your time here! It’s all tap, all the time, including a Tap Youth Ensemble, a Tap Festival, a tap film series, a tap story-telling tour, and even a Shim Sham Crew!
154 Christopher St., #26
photo: via Ailey Extension Facebook page
Alvin Ailey Extension
Created specifically for children ages 7 to 11 who love to dance, this hip-hop for kids class covers the fundamentals of the style including basic body isolations, precision, performance quality and choreography. Students develop coordination, body awareness, build self esteem and gain confidence.
405 W. 55th St.
92nd Street Y
When you think Hip-Hop and break-dancing, you naturally think the Upper East Side of Manhattan, no? Maybe you should. The nationally renowned Y(not-MCA, just Y) has a combined class for 4-7 year olds and another for 7-10 year olds, plus Hip-Hop for Tweens.
1395 Lexington Ave.
Upper East Side
Harlem School of the Arts
For a slightly more authentic take, you might want to head uptown, where hip-hop is a part of the HSA curriculum starting with the Dance Enrichment Program and going all the way up through their Pre-Professional and even their College Preparatory program. Now that’s commitment!
645 Saint Nicholas Ave.
Shastakovtich School of Music, Art and Dance
At these south Brooklyn schools named for the famous Russian composer, music, art and dance are considered as critical to a child’s development and success as science and math. Ballroom dancing is just one of the styles offered here; students can also study ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop and modern.
Various Brooklyn locations
Paul Pellicoro’s DanceSport
Dedicated exclusively to ballroom dancing, this school starts classes at age 7 and teaches multiple styles via group or private lessons. Choose from waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, swing, mambo and non-partner dances.
22 West 34th St.
All dance has a history and a culture, but some also have an ethnicity. Below are classes in individual folk dances that also come with some language and geography learning.
photo: Christopher Duggan for Ballet Hispanico
Flamenco/Salsa at Ballet Hispanico
Starting with the Los Pasitos Early Childhood program, Latin dance is a central pillar of this school, with Flamenco available as one option among others in the Open Class division.
167 W 89th St.
Upper West Side
photo: via Cumbe Facebook page
African Dance at Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance
You’re never too young to move joyfully to the beat of a drum (OK, you have to be at least two years old here). These free and creative movement classes for 2 to 4-year-olds and their caregivers are held at Brooklyn Ballet until the permanent Bed-Stuy studio is ready.
160 Schermerhorn St.
Step Dance at the Irish Arts Center
Registration for those ages 4 and up is rolling here, so you don’t have to wait for a new semester to kick up before you begin, and it runs year round, too. All students start their jigs in a soft shoe before working up to the harder, Riverdance variety, which is offered in an additional class.
553 West 51st St.
Indian Dancing at Bronx Dance Theatre
It’s Bollywood in the Bronx for kids ages 8 and up with this fusion of traditional Indian dance combined with Western hip-hop and jazz. The most important thing to remember is it’s colorful, the music is catchy, and the movement is non-stop fun!
Bronx Dance Theatre
585 E. 187th St.
A final important thing to remember: it doesn’t need to be either/or. Many, if not most of the schools listed above specialize in more than one dance style – yes, even ballet! So it’s possible to mix and match and find the perfect style for your child at one school or facility.
So, tell us: where will you be kicking up your heels?
— Alina Adams