When you first enter the urban dance community, there are a lot of things that people just kind of expect you to know… like how to take a dance class.

You have a lot of questions ‚Äď Where do you go to take a dance class? What¬†kind of dance class should you be taking? What do you even¬†do during a dance class?! Huh??!?!¬†WUT!!!!”!!!??!?!1

Fret not, yung grasshopper.

Think of STEEZY as your best friend ‚Äď we’re here to guide you through the entire process of taking a dance class.

Get in the car ‚Äď we’re going dancing.

Looking for a dance class in your area

If you don’t have a dancer friend who can introduce you to different dance classes, it’s okay! That’s what the internet is for.

Do a¬†Google or Yelp search using key words¬†like “Dance classes in ____” or “Dance studios in _____”¬†or “Hip hop classes in _____”

Do you live in LA? Train here: The Dance Studios In LA You Need To Be Training At

Once you have a good list of nearby dance studios, go on their websites to see what kind of class offerings they have.

If they do not have a website (whaaat), then call the studio and ask for their schedule.¬†This way, you can ask more questions¬†while you’re on the phone, too.

Instagram is is a great tool for finding dance studios and dance classes, too!

If you keep noticing flyers or class videos (either in your personal feed, or through¬†Instagram’s “Explore” page), and click on the location link, you can see where the studio is located.

Better yet, if the studio itself has an account, you can stalk their class schedules and instructors to find out more. Finally, lurking skills from stalking your crush is coming in handy!

If you like the instructors / classes offered, or the vibe of the studio, add that into your list of prospective places to take class at.

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Which dance class should you take?

Once you’ve secured the place¬†where you’ll be taking your dance class, you need to decide which class to take.

You want to make sure you feel comfortable diving into your first dance class, and that it will benefit you, rather than leave you feeling defeated.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • A “Beginner” level dance class is the safest bet to start with¬†
    • Much like when you add salt to your food, it’s easier to add more than to take it away. If you start slow, even¬†if it feels¬†“too slow” for you, you can always build UP¬†to a more advanced level dance class rather than jumping into something too complicated and having to reset.
    • Even if you’re not a beginner dancer, read Why Every Dancer Should Take A Beginner Dance Class
  • There will be different styles of dance classes, even within an “umbrella” style
    • Jazz funk? Popping? Locking? Advanced choreography? So many different genres fall into “hip hop” or “street styles” or even “urban dance.”
    • Confused about these labels? Read these articles:
      What Is Hip Hop Dance?
      What Is Urban Dance?
    • Either watch these classes at the studio or look for YouTube videos of combos in that style
    • Map out a variety of different styles in your class-taking schedule¬†to start. You don’t know what you like until you try it! Who knows ‚Äď you might discover the inner house dancer or fierce voguer in you.
    • Wait, what’s that? Read this:
      What Is The Difference Between Waacking And Voguing?
    • Again, look for those with a “Beginner” prefix ūüėČ

How to prepare to take a dance class

Once you’ve decided on your dance class (where / when / which one), it’s time to get ready.

Choose an outfit that is loose and comfortable, but one that you still feel confident in. By no means do you have to follow the latest trends in “dancer fashion.”

It’s about¬†YOU and what makes YOU feel cool.

P.S. Wear comfortable shoes! This one’s a must.

Once you get to the studio, you’re going to register at the front desk, pay for your “Drop-In” class, and wait for the room¬†to be ready. There’s usually back to back classes at studios, so another class will be exiting¬†as you’re waiting to enter.

When you get inside, put your stuff down and wait for the choreographer. Until then, you can just hang out, start stretching, or talk to other dancers in the class.

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You’ll probably start to feel nervous right about now. Remember:

It’s all about your mindset!

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that a class is called a¬†class for a reason: you’re there to¬†learn!

So instead of being intimidated by the idea of trying something new, get excited to start learning.

What to know when you take a dance class

The choreographer will start (most likely) by introducing themselves, and leading a quick stretch.

Aside from the actual learning process (which we’ll talk about in the next section), there are a few “class etiquette” notes to keep in mind:

  • Ask questions
    • If you’re struggling with a move, it’s perfectly *fine (encouraged!) for you to ask questions.
    • *But don’t do this in excess! Try and figure out the answer yourself first (by looking closer at the move, trying it out in different ways for yourself), and if you still¬†need clarification, ask.
  • Switching lines
    • When the choreographer says to “switch lines” ‚Äď if you’re in the front of the room, move to the back, and vice versa.
    • This is to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance at having a good view of the choreographer throughout the class. It’d be a little selfish to hog the mirror the whole time, right?
  • Switching inside / out
    • In addition to switching lines, the choreographer might also ask the class to switch “inside out” /¬†“outside in.” And yep ¬†‚Äď it’s exactly as it sounds. If you’re toward the middle of the room, move closer to the walls, and vice versa.
    • In general, it’s good to move around the room while you take class, regardless o whether the choreographer is telling you to¬†or not. It helps you to not grow dependent on your position¬†to learn or execute.
  • Sitting down
    • There are a few cases where you’ll have to take a seat during the class.
    • 1. When the choreographer is demonstrating the moves they taught and you’re in the front of the room.
      • We do this so that, when the choreographer first matches the moves to the music, everyone can see what the choreography is supposed to look like.
    • 2. If the studio is too crowded, and the choreographer needs to demonstrate the choreography for the “back half” to see.
        • It’s easy to follow the choreographer¬†if you can actually¬†see what they’re doing, but often the people in the back of the room have blocked or limited vision. (Especially when it comes to intricate details or footwork). We have the front half of the room sit down while the choreographer can teach the back half of the room, then have the whole class join in once everyone “gets” it.

      What the choreographer means…

      • When they say to “Watch”
        • This is when it’s¬†polite for the people in the front of the class to take a knee/seat.
        • Even if you know the moves, really WATCH the choreographer demonstrate the piece.
        • Take note of where the piece counts in, the true tempo of how fast the song¬†goes, and how the choreographer is hitting each move.
        • The closer you pay attention, the closer you’ll know what to emulate.
      • When they tell you to “Mark it”
        • Marking means that you are doing the piece more in your head than on your body ‚Äď but you should still be doing it with your body.
        • Think of it as doing the piece, but with less energy. Be more conscious of the music, timing, and where your body placements are rather than releasing your bankai.
        • The choreographer might use percentages to indicate how much energy you should be putting into your mark.
          • Example: “Let’s go just 50% for this first run-through!” or “Mark it around 80%”
      • When they tell you to¬†“Go full out”
        • All right, THIS is when you go 100% with your energy. Think of it as the most you can do for everything: cleanliness, timing (that you should’ve perfected in your mark), but now with POWER.

      take a dance class

      How to learn when you take a dance class

      • Learning¬†choreography
        • Take note of pictures, angles, footwork, focus, etc.
      • Choreographer’s execution
        • WATCH them demonstrate for the class!
        • Take note of texture, dynamics, milking, everything from their demeanor and posture to their facials and energy levels.
          What’s that? Here: What Are Textures In Dancing?
      • Listening¬†to the music
        • A huge huge huge huge huge part of being able to get a piece is knowing the music.
        • Know what sounds you’re hitting, when those sounds come in the music, the tempo, mood, and style of the song.
          Read this for more musicality tips! What Is Dance Musicality?
      • Practice¬†performance
        • If you’re satisfied with starting out learning just the choreography, that’s fine!
        • But if¬†you feel comfortable with the piece, try and add a little pizzazz to it! Your freestyle, your facials, your personal swag.

      After you take a dance class

      A class experience is not limited to just learning choreography.

      After all the moves are taught, there will be a few things the choreographer has you do.

      • Groups
        • This is when the room is divided into sections, and that group will perform the piece as the other students watch.
        • This can get intimidating! But it’s also an integral part to your growth. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and just go for it!
      • Select¬†group
        • The choreographer may or may not call out a “select group” ‚Äď a group of students that they noticed and want the rest of the class to watch. The selected dancers may have been really clean, not so clean but performed the crap out of it, had a lot of personal style, or were just fun to watch. There are so many reasons you can get chosen or not for a select group, so don’t overthink it!
        • If the choreographer calls out a “any 10 people” or “any 5 people” to be in a group, and you feel comfortable with the piece, you should volunteer¬†to go up!
      • Recording class footage
        • Don’t be surprised if someone (either the studio staff, another student, or a parent) is recording you dance.
          • The studio sometimes does this to promote their classes, and students/parents often do this for personal keeping or to post on social media.. (let’s be real)
        • And if YOU want to record yourself, ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ask the choreographer first if that’s okay. If they say no, don’t. Lol. And if they say yes, clear it with the studio staff too. Then ask someone to record you so you can critique (or appreciate) how you did. Or post it on Instagram. Live your life.
      • Choreographer’s solo
        • At the very end of the class, the choreographer will most likely perform the piece.
        • Honestly, the best thing to do here is just watch. Put your phone down, don’t think about comparing it to how you did it, just watch and be amazed / inspired~~
      • Saying thank you to the choreographer

        • Once you pick your jaw up from the dance floor, make sure to line up to thank the choreographer. They just shared their craft with you, hopefully in a way that helped you become a better dancer in some way, so it’s important to show your appreciation.
        • You can introduce yourself, say thank you, take a picture if you want. You can ask for critiques or tips, but if there is a long line of people behind you,¬†the more polite thing to do is to keep it short and sweet.
        • If you really enjoyed the piece and want to keep practicing it (which we highly recommend you do), ask the choreographer for the song title and artist so you can find it later.

      take a dance class

       

      Phew! So there you have it. The complete guide on how to take a dance class.

      Hope this helped you understand how to take a dance class, and that you go and DO IT! Enjoy your first steps!

       

      Got questions still? Let us know what else you’d like to learn about by leaving a comment below!¬†

      You can also learn how to dance with STEEZY Studio ‚Äď our online dance classes and programs were made by dancers, for dancers, to help you learn best. Click to try it out for free!

      This post was originally published on March 27, 2016.