Room to move
Add class to your style-dance class, that is.
Participating in a dance class can open a new vista, giving you a chance to experience your body as a powerful tool for creativity and expression. But if standing in a mirrored room and making your arms and legs move in unfamiliar ways isn’t something you’ve done much, it can feel a little uncomfortable. It’s true that dance classes have their own culture, quite separate from the gym, the office, or any other place you might frequent—and customs vary from studio to studio. Here’s how to venture fearlessly forth.
Find your form
You may already know what kind of dance suits your fancy. Indian classical dance, ballet, ballroom, African—choices abound, especially in our big city. But if you’re not sure what you’d like to try, check out some dance performances or search online for videos of different dance styles. When you see a dancer you’d like to be, imagine yourself doing what he or she is doing. If you can feel it in your bones, that’s the style for you.
Choose a class
Once you’ve found your style, search for a class. Most classes take place in studios that offer one or more forms of dance. We list studios in this section when space allows, but another great resource is TakeChicagoDance.com. You can search for classes by style, location and teacher. Also, don’t hesitate to ask friends and acquaintances for info. You never know, that guy in the cubicle next to you might be going to a tap-dance class every Wednesday after work and loving it.
Time and money
Many studios offer classes on a drop-in basis, which means you can pay for one class at a time and go (or stay home) whenever you like. The average rate for a single 90-minute class in Chicago is $15, but fees vary. To save money, ask to purchase a “class card,” which offers discounts for a group of ten or more drop-ins.
If you’ve never taken a dance class or the particular style of dance is new to you, seek a class series. Signing up for a series is like registering for a mini course—the teacher introduces skills gradually, and each class builds to the next. You’ll need to be able to make the schedule and not miss anything. Some studios, like the Old Town School of Folk Music and Aloft Aerial Dance, offer classes in series form only.
OMG, what to wear? The most important thing when choosing clothing is comfort. You’re going to need to have full range of motion in your hips and shoulders, be able to bend your knees and elbows, and sweat in whatever you’re wearing. Avoid anything hard such as buttons, snaps or buckles. Think sports, not modeling. If you feel at home in your duds, you’re gonna look great when you dance. Different dance styles have different requirements; ask at the studio if there’s something special you need, especially when it comes to footwear.
Body parts that sway and bounce on their own should be gently reined in: Ladies may want to find a soft, supportive bra; men in ballet or modern dance should invest in a “dance belt” (a soft version of an athletic supporter, found in dance-wear shops or online). A special note: Never wear street shoes in a dance studio. If you’re doing hip-hop, have an extra pair of clean sneaks to wear in dance class only.
Enjoy your journey! If you choose, it can be a never-ending trip to a land of newfound fun and well-being. Find plenty of inspiration at timeoutchicago.com/dance.