Dance is an especially artful way to get and stay in shape. Given that the Upper West Side is home to the New York City Ballet, among other dance companies, it is only fitting that the neighborhood includes studios where adults can dance their way to fitness.
167 West 89th Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues)
Since its founding in 1970, the Ballet Hispánico dance company has performed worldwide, and its founder, Tina Ramirez, was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In addition to its dance troupe, Ballet Hispánico teaches classes to children as young as two and to adults. You need not have had previous training to take the adult classes, nor do you even have to be interested in ballet. Along with ballet, there are adult classes in tap and several Spanish and Latin dance forms. These include flamenco and sevillanas (a type of folk dancing, derived from flamenco, that originated in Spain’s Castile region and uses castanets). Adults can also learn Latin Jazz, which incorporates salsa, samba, and other Latin dances into traditional jazz; Latin Fusion, an amalgam of numerous fast-paced styles that promises to deliver an especially effective cardio workout), and Caribbean Flow, incorporating salsa, rumba, soca, and merengue.
131 West 72nd Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues)
The Ballet Spot is less about teaching you to dance and more about teaching you how to obtain a lithe, fit dancer’s body. All classes are taught by professional dancers, but you do not need any dance experience to benefit from the workouts, let alone participate. Novices might want to start with Ballet Spot 101 before taking on Cardio Ballet, which substitutes ballet for the jazz or hip-hop moves of a typical dance-cardio class, set to piano renditions of pop, rock, and Broadway tunes. The Pilates/Ballet Medley pairs a half-hour of Pilates mat work with a half-hour of Cardio Ballet, while Dance HIIT integrates low-impact, high-intensity interval training with dance moves. Graceful Stretch, choreographed to classical music, is ideal for those in search of a more calming workout.
2726 Broadway (between 104th and 105th Streets)
Bridge for Dance offers a variety of classes at a variety of skill levels. Those who have never so much as pointed a toe can take ballet, tap, jazz funk, and ballroom dancing lessons; there are also ballet, tap, and ballroom classes for students who already have some experience. Open classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop, welcoming students of all levels, are available too, as are open yoga sessions.
129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)
Part of the not-for-profit Kaufman Music Center, Lucy Moses School might be best known for its music instruction for both kids and adults, but it offers dance classes too. In the adult classes, the primary focus is increasing strength, mobility, and cardiovascular health, not competing for a role as Clara in “The Nutcracker.” For instance, in the adult ballet classes, the emphasis is on barre work rather than jetés and pirouettes; Ballet Special Projects is available for more-advanced students. Gentle Jazz Movement incorporates jazz and Broadway dance moves. Not a true dance class, Stretching & Relaxation focuses on breathing techniques and stress reduction as well as stretching; similarly, Bodywork for Health & Fitness is a workout that helps increase strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. Special sessions of the ballet, jazz, and stretching classes are labeled “senior friendly” and are great options for those who worry about keeping up with spry, sprightly young adults.
48 West 68th Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue)
With its rapid-fire footwork and leaps, Irish step dancing promises a solid workout, while the emphasis on keeping the back rigid is sure to improve one’s posture. This studio teaches Irish dancing to adults exclusively, offering beginner, intermediate, and advance classes in group or private lessons. Instruction is available for both soft-shoe dancing, such as jigs and reels, and hard-shoe dancing, which tends to be more complex and, with its tapping and stomping, louder.
2121 Broadway (at 74th Street)
No matter your age, your dance experience (or lack thereof), or the type of dance you are interested in, chances are good you will find a class at Steps to get you moving. Amid the lessons for little ones and sessions for pros are ballet, tap, hip-hop, theater jazz, and swing workshops for adults with little to no experience. If you already have at least a year of ballet, jazz, hip-hop, flamenco, or theater dance under your belt, you can enroll in one of the more-advanced classes. Steps also offers a mixed-level Pilates class, and on weekday mornings its cardio dance or kickboxing sessions are sure to have you energized and ready to face the day.