Follow the fancy footwork of top choreographers at Broadway Dance Center.
So you think you can dance? Whether you sashay like the stars or dare to boogie behind closed doors, Broadway Dance Center can help unlock your inner Baryshnikov or Britney during an immersive week of instruction.
Located just off Times Square in Midtown Manhattan’s high-wattage Theater District, Broadway Dance Center has garnered international acclaim for its innovative programming for everyone from pros to those who don’t know a plié from popping. Founded in 1984, the school today boasts 30,000 square feet of studio space and offers a staggering 350 classes a week.
“In addition to having become an internationally recognized dance destination, we are also known as a one-stop shop because we house multiple disciplines for various levels of skills,” says executive director Diane King.
Classes range from traditional ballet, jazz and tap to hip-hop, breakdance and contemporary—a burgeoning category within the performance community, thanks in part to recent widespread exposure in the media. (Think Magic Mike, Step Up: All In and reality television.)
“Contemporary is rooted in jazz and ballet, and is sort of a fluid hybrid,” explains April Cook, a professional tap dancer who has taught at BDC for more than a decade. “It’s all about the motion.”
The 90-minute classes run seven days a week, starting at 9 a.m. weekdays, and lasting until 9 p.m. (Weekend classes begin at noon Saturdays, while the center opens its doors at 10:30 a.m. Sundays.) First-timers often benefit from BDC’s Absolute Beginner Workshop, which introduces a particular style of dance to tenderfoot adults.
“It can be intimidating to step off the street and try something new,” Cook says. “The beginners’ classes all start with a warm-up, and guide students on stretching properly and taking care of yourself, along with the basics of whatever is that class’s focus—ballet, jazz, breakdance, tap and contemporary.”
Over the summer, the center unveiled a class called Madonna’s Hard Candy Fitness, a rigorous choreography-based workout designed by the pop icon’s team of personal trainers. BDC’s schedule includes classes in acting, yoga, Pilates, waacking (a punk-form of dance circa 1970s), mediation and performance development as well.
“We also offer a Broadway Choreography Series, where a dance captain or choreographer on an actual Broadway production comes and teaches part of the show to a class of students,” Cook says.
King adds: “Our location is ideal for that kind of cross-pollination. And our permanent faculty of 100 includes professionals, like Greg Zane, the associate choreographer for the new Broadway revival of The King & I at Lincoln Center.”
Zane is a former principal dancer at Hawaii Ballet Theatre. Other notable instructors include Joshua Bergasse, who won an Emmy Award for choreographing NBC’s Smash.
The caliber of the staff helps lure more than 300 international students from some 100 countries to Broadway Dance Center’s full-time program, where they train upward of 18 hours a week for anywhere from three months to a year. Schools also send groups for intensive, shorter-term training. For instance, nearly two dozen middle-school students from Punahou spent a week at Broadway Dance Center, honing their dance and performance skills.
Adults with a more casual interest in dance can design an itinerary tailored to their skill levels. Visitors often stay at the InterContinental Hotel in Time Square, a block-and-a-half away from the studio. Th e Westin New York at Times Square, Paramount Hotel New York, Row NYC and Hilton Times Square are all less than a half a mile from DMC too.
Visitors might opt to enroll in a couple of classes a day before enjoying an evening of theater or nightlife—taking in, say, the buzzed-about new musical Hamilton, or heading to West Village jazz clubs, which boast tap dancers performing to the live tunes. Other dance-themed after-hours entertainment includes ballet at Lincoln Center or breakdancing at Apollo Th eater.
For BDC’s classes, King and Cook recommend that even first-timers dress the part. For ladies, that means donning a leotard, tights and ballet slippers for ballet classes. Students should wear gym-appropriate attire for jazz and other classes, such as sweat-pants, yoga bottoms, a stretchy top and the like, along with jazz shoes, ballet shoes or even sneakers. To any of the classes, men can dress in a fitted T-shirt, along with dance shorts or sweatpants; ballet slippers, socks, jazz shoes or sneakers work for footwear.
“People often come here just to try something new,” Cook says. “Dance is really a great way to diversity your fitness regimen because it’s so much fun.”