Alongside the popularity of programmes such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ has come a wave of enthusiasm for all things dance. The fusion of various styles of dance and fitness training has also proved to be a hit with those who want to lose a few pounds and enjoy themselves at the same time.
If you have recently caught the dance bug, London is the ideal place to be. With private classes, public drop-ins and dedicated dance schools covering every type of dance you could think of – and a few more besides – you just need to choose a style and break out those dancing shoes.
Below is a guide to the different options available to the avid dancer:
If you enjoy the social and technical aspect of dance, then ballroom dancing may interest you. Ballroom dancing covers the five classic dances of waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, quickstep and tango. Two of the many ballroom venues worth checking out are Simply Dancing Partners and City Academy. Centrally located, Simply Dancing Partners is a bit on the pricey side (just under £60 for an hour and a half), but you do get guaranteed equal numbers and a guaranteed professional dance partner for the whole lesson. You can also learn other dance styles such as salsa, rumba, cha-cha and jive. From £160 to £180 for a 6-8 week course, City Academy offers ballroom lessons for beginners and intermediate dancers, as well as a host of other performance arts related classes.
The passionate Latin salsa scene is thriving in London, with the opportunity to indulge on every single night of the week and dozens of venues throughout the city. One of the most popular venues is the colourful Bar Salsa on Charing Cross Road. At Bar Salsa, salsa, bachata and Cali-style classes are available seven nights a week, and the most you will probably pay for a lesson is a fiver. The club welcomes complete novices and improvers with a strong emphasis on having fun. Other regular salsa nights can be found at the Paddington Academy, Famous Three Kings and Amber Club. A useful resource for the London-bound salsera is London Salsa, where you will find details about the city’s best Latin nights each given a rating on the chilli pepper scale!
Tap dancing was originally a fusion of traditional Irish and African forms and was made famous by dance legends such as Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Junior and Gene Kelly. Today, tap is as popular as ever and can imrove fitness, balance and sense of rhythm. If you fancy learning how to tap, stomp, stamp, shuffle and sweep, there are classes at Pineapple Studios, Danceworks and many other venues across London. At the time of writing, Pineapple were offering tap dance tuition on most days of the week, with Modern, New Style and Jazz variations on the menu. Prices ranged from £7 to £9 an hour. Dreamworks were providing tap classes on Monday evenings for £6 an hour, with half hour lessons available for just £3.
If you thought you had to learn ballet from a young age to get any good at it, think again. Donna Schoeneherr’s Ballet4Life offers both complete beginners’ courses and drop-in classes suitable for those who have never worn a pointe shoe or a tutu in their lives. Donna promotes her classes as somewhere to meet new people and escape stress while having fun. Courses are based around an academic term and cost around £240, while drop-in classes can cost from £4 upwards; there are also drop-ins dedicated to experienced ballerinas.
There is even a popular ‘dance fitness’ ballet hybrid you can try called Barredance, available from Barrecorre. Classes cost £28 but there are various special offers, including a £20 initial session. There are also pay-per-view virtual Barrecorre classes available on the website.
Modern Dance Styles
There are too many new dances and dance fitness hybrids to mention them all, with new ones popping up all the time (Ravercise is the latest one we’ve come across). Two of the most popular new dances to arrive on the scene are Bollywood Dance and Street Dance/Hip Hop. Pineapple Studios offer Street Dance classes in London, while Sapnay are popular for Bollywood dance classes.
Contemporary dance developed in the mid 1900s and blends elements of modern dance and classical ballet together with improvisation techniques and influences from other styles and cultures. Contemporary dance classes and courses can be booked through the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place, and also at Pineapple Studios.
If you don’t mind what type of dance you do or like to try out different dance styles before committing to one, Pineapple Dance Studios and Danceworks offer an ample range to keep you busy. These include recognised styles such as jazz, salsa, ballet, contemporary and modern tap; franchises such as Zumba™ and music from various cultures such as Egyptian Belly Dance, Jamaican Dancehall or Capoeira from Brazil. Prices in both venues are generally under £10 for a class with a small membership fee required (a few pounds for a day with discounts for monthly membership).
Taking it further
If your dance ambitions extend a bit further than a short course or drop-in class, you might want to consider training to become a professional dancer or dance instructor, particularly if you have had previous training. Dance UK is a membership organisation that provides an invaluable resource for students wanting to access dance training in London and the rest of the UK. The Royal Academy of Dance are an internationally acclaimed dance school based in London and they offer various graduate and postgraduate programs to aspiring dancers and dance teachers. These include full time, part time and distance learning programmes. The London Contemporary Dance School also provides undergraduate and graduate training, while the Pineapple Performing Arts School runs a popular intensive adult course over 12 weeks.