Recently, we received a note from a reader looking for some “dance classes (specifically ballet and/or hip hop) for beginners out there that are affordable and tons of fun.” Aimee recently quit her gym membership, and wanted a pay-as-you go place to shake it. We came up with a good number of choices that cost under $15 a class.
First of all: like yoga, many places offer the first class for free. Surfing intro offers is an alright approach. The problem is, most dance classes are progressive and instructors make efforts to isolate and develop different body areas over the lessons’ course. That means going to six different Ballet classes may not equal a single six-week course. On the other end of the investment spectrum, you can save a lot by plunking down a large sum for a punch-card. (If you don’t think you’re going to use all 10 sessions on the card, you can try pairing up with someone else in the class, though at most places that will be an outlaw move.)
Brooklyn is hot with African and Afro-Caribbean dance right now. Senegal-born Marie Basse Wiles, the third generation of esteemed drummer and dancers, is teaching West African dance at New You Aerobics & Fitness in Prospect Lefferts Garden/Brownsville (632 Utica Ave., 2nd floor) every Saturday at 4. It costs $12 per session, but each lesson is an hour and a half.
The Mark Morris Dance Group at BAM also offers classes ($13/single, $120/10) that last between an hour and a half and two hours. The program offers old classics like jazz, ballet, tap, as well as rising standards like tango, belly dance, West African and some interesting eccentricities like Indian and Baroque dancing.
Excitingly, the well-reviewed group is offering *free* two-hour classes at the NYCHA Saratoga Village Community Center (940 Hancock St.) Thursdays, from 7 to 9 p.m. Bring an ID and thank us later. Bushwick, 917- 579-2737
In Park Slope, you can get into a tap, jazz, Ballet, hip-hop, belly dance (or musical theater) class for $13.50 (er- $135 for 10 classes) at the Brooklyn Dance Project, 495 Third Ave. at 11th St.
Another Park Slope contender, weighing in at just under $14 a class ($65 a month)—plus all sorts of freebies if you stick with them—is Salsa Salsa Dance Studio (guess what they teach), 55 Fourth Ave. (between Bergen St & Dean St). Their program involves classes and socials—including a weekly session at Atlantic Avenue’s Deity Lounge. Latin Fever dance studios in Ditmas Park (1609 Cortelyou Rd., 718-693-2488) has a similar deal. It’s $60 a month to take one class a week, but the same fee gets you two weekly classes after an introductory period.
And sometimes, it is fun to stay at the YMCA. There, you can do ballet, belly dancing, Afro-Brazilian, mambo salsa, hip-hop… basically everything but the hand-gesture routine we all have to do at weddings. For non-members, 16 classes costs $165 (free for members). Prospect Park YMCA, 357 9th St., 718-768-7100.
If something like ‘divajazz’ gets you on the floor, check out dancer/professional babe Dawn Livingston. She focuses on hip-swinging classes in all sorts of saucy styles: samba, latin, hip-hop, belly- and Polynesian, a rare treat in Brooklyn dance programs. The classes are much more intimate than most—taught in Dawn’s Bed-Stuy home, she also leads Mommy and Me courses and welcomes children. [email protected], 415-309-2827, $40/four classes.
Salsa, tango, and hustle—Dance Fever Studios in Cypress Hills certainly tries to live up to its name. Paying at the beginning of their progressive series (four or five weeks) gets you in the class for $10 a pop. Also $10 each are the six-part Cha Cha lessons at Dance Atlantic Studios (3390 Atlantic Ave). For $3 less ($70/10 classes), you can hit up Funhouse in East New York. A party venue and dance studio, its palate may be more traditional—ballet, jazz modern, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, zumba—but the Funhouse is definitely energetic. They specialize in youth education and baby-sitting. 220 Ashford Rd. 718-235-0500.
So, write again if you need to find discount spandex!