The best dance classes London has to offer
From practising your pointe with English National Ballet to indulging your favourite 80s moves with Frame, we round up the best dance classes in London
The magic of dance comes from the harmonious fusion of beautiful music, a convivial ambience, the creative movement of your body and the rhythm of your breath. It can be spontaneous and uninhibited, or meticulously choreographed and sophisticated. Whatever your dance style it will release positive energy, engender confidence and get the endorphins (the 'happy hormones') flowing.
With Monday 17 May creeping closer and real appearance of ‘normal’ life resuming, we take a look at nine of the best dance options the capital has to offer.
English National Ballet, London City Island
World renowned for its professional ballet training, the English National Ballet is currently offering online classes through its streamed platform BalletActive. These range from the highest level of professional dance training to classes designed for those with limited space in their homes. There are even workouts that can be conducted from your home/office chair. BalletFit is a popular ballet-inspired body-conditioning class for all comers to supplement their regular dance or fitness regime.
The even better news, however, is that the English National Ballet will open its doors to the public and recommence IRL classes from their chic new premises in London City Island as soon as May. Their new space is four times the size of their previous home and boasts four new stage-sized studios which allows more engagement with the community through extensive dance classes and visits.
Dance style: ballet to inspire alignment elegance and grace.
Vibe: full of ballet integrity.
Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance Company, Woolwich
Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance Company is one of the most distinctive voices in British dance theatre. Since its inception in 1997, it has offered an original blend of music, humour and choreography to entertain its theatre audiences. The company aims to provoke the audience by directly interacting with it.
To mark Protein’s return to stage rehearsals, the theatre opens its doors to all dancers and communities on Fridays. You can complement free online classes with outdoor dance classes. This is a rare chance to really savour the interactive atmosphere of live dance theatre.
Dance style: immersive live dance with theatre pros.
Vibe: all inclusive, theatrical.
City Academy, Farringdon
Whether you’re taking your first steps on the dance floor, or consider yourself to be a bit of a dance pro, City Academy of dance in Farringdon will not disappoint. Its offerings range from the traditional disciplines of ballet, tap dance and Latin American styles, to the more exotic belly dancing, burlesque and Bollywood.
For first timers, the Absolute Beginners Class is a great place to start; it’s designed to build confidence and allow you to get to grips with some neatly curated dance moves. For those wanting to learn a dance routine to an iconic artist, try the foot-stomping, pure swaggering joy of Diva Dance classes. Or for something a little more risqué, the Burlesque classes teach you to embrace the sensual nature of movement. The course promises to teach you to move with panache and grace (in heels). You’ll learn some stylised moves and ‘develop your Burlesque persona’. Reassuringly, no nudity is required.
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, world renowned for its studios in Clerkenwell and dedicated to international dance, will be hosting City Academy dance classes again from Monday 17 May. For alternative locations across the capital visit City Academy’s website.
Dance style: varied to suit all tastes and requirements.
Vibe: Relaxed and accessible to all.
Salsa! Soho, Covent Garden
Salsa! Soho bar and restaurant brings Central and South American culture to the heart of the capital. It offers a heady mix of intoxicating cocktails, authentic Latin American food, non-stop music and daily salsa dance classes. Bookings for outside tables can now be made, and inside tables can be reserved from Monday 17 May. And for the real deal, head over there for an impromptu night of contagious, non-pretentious, no-holds-barred partying and dancing (from June, hopefully).
Dance style: throw caution to the wind – carefree Latin American sensuality.
Vibe: Latino meets down and dirty.
Pineapple Studios, Covent Garden
Pineapple Dance Studios, which has been referred to as ‘the home of dance in London’, continues to deliver excellence in its world-renowned dance classes and lifestyle brand. Its founder, Debbie Moore, established Pineapple with a mission to make dance accessible to all comers. Forty-two years later it still does exactly that. Its loyal customers range from five years of age to about 95 and from local Londoners and A-list celebrities to royalty.
Pineapple, in its pre-lockdown heyday, was attracting around 2,500 visitors a day, and offered 250 classes of 40 different dance styles per week. All 80 of the teachers are professionally trained.
Pineapple has already started some in-studio classes, and aims to offer its full range of dance from 17 May onwards.
Dance style: you name it, Pineapple has it.
Vibe: long-standing professional excellence.
Frame Dance Studios, various locations
Frame is one of London’s best-known dance and fitness studios, with seven venues located around the capital. To experience the magic of dance, sweat your way through an all-over body workout to the ultimate mood-boosting Old Skool Bangers class; don your leotard and leggings for a 90s-style Cher-obics class, which incorporates low-impact dance and fitness moves to Cher classics; or try the Kylie Buttlift class, predictably danced along to some of her most famous tracks. There’s also the Britney Barre, a session of slow and controlled movements, ballet style, performed to a Britney Spears playlist.
All classes are designed to get the benefits of an endorphin rush, whilst also making sure that you have a thoroughly good workout.
Dance style: from 80s grooving to super-effective all-over body workout.
Vibe: fabulous fun.
The Factory Fitness and Dance, Archway
A 10-minute bus ride from Kings Cross, The Factory prides itself on being ‘London’s best private gym, pole dancing, fitness and wellbeing centre’. Although it was principally founded as a members’ club, it also offers drop-in class options, to make it as inclusive as possible.
Although the Factory offers a wide array of dance classes, from Ballet Fusion to Commercial dance, the pole-dancing tuition particularly piqued our interest. It promises an alternative form of exercise that will hone your muscles, develop flexibility, increase your body confidence and mood, and is also just some much needed fun. ‘You will become a pole dance fanatic and develop pole dancing talent you never dreamed you could have,’ claims The Factory. It must be worth a try…
Dance style: classes inspire everything from cheeky sensuality to full-on cardio activity.
Vibe: small members’ club unconventional classes.
Field Day Festival, Victoria Park, East London
For the festival-lovers among you, London is gearing up for a mega line-up of gigs – no better way to really let your hair down and get a concentrated day or two of music, revelry and uninhibited dance. Field Day Festival is set for a glorious homecoming to Victoria Park on Sunday 29 August: headlining is the internationally acclaimed duo, Bicep, who will have the opportunity to showcase old and new material in the way it was intended – for the dancefloor. Expect an all day danceathon. Other performers include Floating Points, Ross from Friends and Overmono, as well as plenty of DJ sets. This will be a huge al fresco dance party to be remembered.
Dance style: wherever and however the mood takes you.
Vibe: hipster, carefree, free spirited.
The Jazz Café, Camden
Camden stalwart Jazz Café has hosted an eclectic spread of live jazz, reggae, soul, blues, Afrobeat and even Gospel Choir performers since the early 90s. Happily, the iconic music venue has recently announced it will reopen for business. From 17 May, tables can be booked to eat and drink – so lose yourself to the rhythm of its music. And for dance fanatics, from mid-June the Jazz Café relaunches its weekend club nights. On Friday and Saturday nights the Jazz Club invites you to dance to an eclectic mix of the world’s best artists. Revel in the atmosphere until 3am if you so desire. Tickets are currently still priced very reasonably at £5 per ticket.
For a more intimate experience you can book an area of the mezzanine level for your own party of 15 to 150 people.
Dance style: let the music shape your moves.
Vibe: air of smooth maturity. The club’s limited size (capacity for 500 people) gives it a feeling of exclusivity without being swanky.