Most of us know that dancing is a lot of fun, but apparently it’s also really good for you. Apart from improving your physical health through keeping fit, research suggests that dancing makes us smarter and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the New England Journal of Health, a study tested various activities, such as reading, playing golf, bicycling, swimming and dancing regularly for their risk reduction abilities. Playing golf scored 0% and dancing scored highest at 75%.
Keen to give it a try? In Cape Town there are many dance studios offering a variety of styles. From Hula Hoop Dancing to 1930s-style Lindy Hop, there’s something for all types. Depending on what you want to get out of your classes, there are different advantages: some dances are very socially oriented, encouraging new friendships, and some are a work-out, inducing a healthy sweat within a couple of beats – but most are both. Here’s a list of some of the best dance classes in Cape Town to help you make an informed decision.
Location: Curvespace, 25 Church St, Woodstock (entrance on Cavendish St)
Classes: Tribal Fusion Belly Dance and American Tribal Style
Times: Tribal Fusion beginners’ classes are taught on Wednesday evenings, Tribal Fusion drills and technique on Monday evenings, and American Tribal style (ATS) ® – Level I & II on Thursday evenings. A beginners’ course runs from 3 to 31 May.
The experience: Soma is the only dance school in Cape Town offering registered American Tribal Style and Tribal Fusion – a Middle Eastern bellydance that fuses old styles with modern techniques. Marissa Cuenoud, who runs the school and has performed Tribal Fusion at countless festivals with her Middle Eastern band, Ottoman Slap, says it’s more than just a dance class: “It’s a powerful way for women to connect to their bodies and explore their own creativity.” Apart from postural awareness, breathing, stretching, and Middle Eastern and Arabic rhythms, you’ll also learn about costume-making, working with props, the history of the dance, and how to play zils (finger cymbals). Soma’s instructors teach choreographies as well as improvised combinations, which require non-verbal communication and spatial awareness. Cuenoud emphasises that there’s an atmosphere of sharing and openness in their classes, with a huge focus on peer support and non-judgement. “We don’t do grades or exams but rather focus on each individual’s journey to achieve their personal goals.”
Specials for first-timers: There’s a beginners’ workshop on Saturday, 15 April, for R250. Beginner drop-in classes cost R130.
Added extras: Those who are eager to pursue performing have the opportunity to present class dances and their own creations at Soma’s regular events called ‘Hafla’s’.
What to bring: Tribal Fusion dancers wear yoga clothes. Leggings, or something you can move and stretch in. Crop top and hip scarfs are optional. Bring a yoga mat or towel, a bottle of water, and be prepared to dance barefoot.
Website: www.soma.co.za Email: email@example.com Tel: 082 359 3333
Location: Sea Point High School, Main Rd, Sea Point
Classes: Hula Hoop Dancing
Times: The next multilevel classes start 26 April and run till 3 May at 6:30pm. Beyond Basics classes run every Wednesday from 7pm to 8:30pm. The next Beginners’ Series starts 10 May and ends 14 June, every Wednesday from 6pm to 7:30pm. Hoop Flow Love also runs two fire dancing classes a year; the next one is on 19 April.
The experience: Hoop Dance is not just how to hula hoop. Hoopmaster Basil and hoopqueen Sandra-Dee got into teaching hoop dancing after they realised how transforming it is. To them, “It’s about finding your personal rhythm within the hoop”. In the six-week beginners’ course, you’ll learn how to build and grow your flow, with an emphasis on how your body naturally responds to the hoop when you move with it. Think of the hoop as your dance partner. Fitness is an obvious outcome, but Basil and Sandra-Dee also encourage students to believe in their dreams, hoping they’ll apply this mentality to their daily lives.
Those who plan to take hoop-dancing further, can attend Beyond Basics classes after finishing the six-week beginners’ course or if their hooping skills are up to scratch from the start-out. Basil and Sandra-Dee also offer multilevel classes in-between each Beginners’ Series for people who just want to see what it’s like. The focus on dance and life inspiration through movement is applied in every class. You’ll walk away with improved hand-eye co-ordination, increased flexibility, motor skills and balance, body awareness, energy rejuvenation and a deeper belief in what you’re capable of.
Specials for first-timers: You can rent a hoop for the six-week beginners’ class at R100 if you want to practise at home. Hoop Flow Love also provides recap videos for each class at no cost, so you can practise at home. Drop-in classes are R80 for beginners and R100 for Beyond Basics.
Added extras: Beyond Basics students who pay for a month upfront get 10% off at R360. Hoop Flow Love also runs various events throughout the year and posts regular ticket and hoop giveaways on Facebook.
What to bring: Comfy pants, lightweight clothing and an adventurous spirit. The floors are mopped before class and students are encouraged to hoop barefoot. Hoop Flow Love provides hoops, fresh Newlands spring water, hugs and lots of smiles.
Website: www.hoopflowlove.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 074 775 1869 or 072 517 2012
Location: 112 Loop St, Greenpoint
Classes: Salsa, Bachata, and Kizomba
Times: The next round of courses start on 2 May for Salsa and 4 May for Kizomba and Bachata. Booking early is recommended.
The experience: All classes at Sensagría Dance aim to get students dancing right away, so they can have a blast at the weekly Saturday Night Salsa party at Step Brothers Restaurant and Bar. Salsa is a social dance, focused on relaxation and rhythm. Therefore, Carlos and Lani, the directors of Sensagría Dance, teach all the classes with fun in mind. Of course this doesn’t mean you’ll walk away without lasting benefits. Beyond improved rhythm and musicality, as well as better knowledge of movement and body confidence, meeting new friends from different backgrounds is an added bonus. The classes are – as Carlos puts it – “a melting pot of everyone that is Cape Town”. Participants will change partners frequently, experiencing lots of joy and laughter.
Specials for first-timers: ‘The Super Friend Special’. If you bring two friends along to join the class, you only pay R750 per month. If you bring three friends along, the price remains R750, so you join for free.
Added extras: If you choose to do all three dance classes – Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba – you only pay R700 per month. Private lessons are also available.
What to bring: Just bring yourself and a pair of not-so-sticky shoes.
Website: www.sensagria.com Email: email@example.com Tel: 072 742 2190
Location: Youngblood Africa, 70-72 Bree St, Cape Town (Tue) | Rosebank Methodist Church Hall, 2 Chapel Rd, Cape Town (Thu)
Classes: Lindy Hop, Charleston, Blues, Solo Jazz and more
Times: There are classes every Tuesday at Youngblood on Bree from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, and social dancing until 9:30pm. You can start a three week ‘Lindy Hop with Jazz’ beginners’ course on 4 April at 6:30pm. Or you can join for a drop-in class swing dance class at 7:30pm. On 30 March a four-week Charleston course will begin on Thursday evenings at the Rosebank Methodist Church Hall.
The experience: Classes are a time machine to almost 100 years ago, bringing 1930s African-American dances born in Harlem, New York to Cape Town. Boogie Back Dance Co.’s instructors have taught thousands of Capetonians how to swing dance, which includes lindy hop, charleston and solo-jazz. Founder Jeannie Elliott promises that dancers will take home better rhythm, increased confidence on the dance floor, an enhanced appreciation for jazz, and probably a new friend or two. “Our aim is to leave dancers swinging, self-expressed, and smiling ear-to-ear.” From introverts to extroverts and teens to grandparents, classes are attended by all types, improvising and mixing rhythms together to toe-tapping music. In beginners’ drop-in classes, the lindy hop rhythm and simple moves are taught, without relying on what was covered in the previous week, so it’s easy for newcomers to catch on. In the four and six week beginners’ series, each lesson builds off the last, allowing the group to dig deeper into the dance.
Specials for first-timers: You’ll receive your first class for free if you present a screenshot of this article when checking in at the reception desk.
Added extras: Monthly beginner Saturday workshops for those who can’t make weeknights.
What to bring: Comfortable shoes, lightweight clothing, change of shirts, water, and a bit of bounce in your step.
Website: www.boogiebackdance.co.za Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 071 287 5516
Location: Paradiso Academy, 47 De Villiers St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town
Classes: Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Semba, Afrobeats and Kuduro
Times: A beginners’ salsa course is currently running until 6 April on Thursday evening. Drop-ins are welcome but you can also arrange private lessons or attend workshops.
The experience: Paradiso focuses on Afro-Latin social and street dance styles. Its founders, Regan and Candi Christmas, have over 14 years of dancing and teaching experience in 8 countries. Travelling abroad regularly, the team at Paradiso aims to bring the best pedagogy to a growing community. To them, dance is the way to network and foster positive development: students have found friends, business opportunities and the love of their life. Beyond the social element, fitness, improved body coordination, and mind-body intelligence are further benefits. Students constantly strive to become better people, as partner dancing styles convey empathy and teamwork. What’s more, perceived barriers are broken down when people of all ages, shapes and sizes, and ethnic identification come together. The focus is on having fun – and more than often – two-left-feet beginners turn into dance pros, mastering pumping jams and sultry moves.
Specials for first-timers: Drop-in group classes are R100 per hour and private classes are R350, but discounted package deals are available.
Added extras: Paradiso Academy is also home to a Pilates and Yoga Studio, a beautician and a physiotherapist. Health food and drinks are also on offer.
What to bring: Latin or Jazz dance shoes are ideal, but socks are fine. Dress comfortably in non-restrictive clothing. Water is available.
Website: www.paradisoacademy.co.za Email: email@example.com Tel: 083 362 4665