Every mom and dad loves to watch their little girl’s or boy’s first recital – that moment when she prances on stage in her ballet shoes and tutu and dances to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or he dons his tap shoes and awkwardly shuffles his feet to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The memory is priceless.
But which dance studio is best for your child? Do you want ballet, jazz or tap? Is your child serious about dance? Or do you want a cultural experience like Irish step dancing? The choices can be endless, but here are some of Bergen’s best studios for little girls and boys, teens and adults.
And, if you happen to be a young couple about to married, make a point of taking a few classes so that you can impress your friends and family on the dance floor at the reception. Lessons make a world of difference whether you want to waltz, swing or foxtrot across the floor.
Looking for a fun way to get in shape? Ballroom dancing is ideal. You get a rigorous workout and get to spend some special time with your partner. Dr. Vincent McInerney, director of orthopedic education and sports medicine at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System, says that dancing cuts down falls by 75 percent and keeps reflexes sharp. When you trip, you catch yourself – it’s a quick little catch versus a fall. So get up on the floor and take some ballroom dancing lessons.
From Russia with love, these schools are for the super-serious ballet dancer.
Kozlov Dance Studio
580 North Maple Ave., Ridgewood
The studio's dance program has been created to develop in each child an understanding and appreciation for classical ballet, music and culture. Kozlov puts on an annual Youth Dance Festival which is performed at the Berrie Center at Ramapo College in October. Founder Leonid Kozlov is a former Bolshoi Ballet dancer who joined the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. Kozlov Dance International offers dancers opportunities to perform abroad in Aruba is such classics as "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake."
Petrov Ballet School
134 Hopper Ave., Waldwick
The Petrov Ballet School is dedicated to providing quality training in and appreciation for the art of classical ballet. Continuing in the traditions of Russian ballet, the school offers instruction for dancers ages 5 and up in all levels of expertise as well as classes for adults. Founder Eugene Petrov began his American training and teaching in 1992 at Irine Fokine.
The school is conveniently located in the Superdome Sports complex in Waldwick. A definite plus for parents is the state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facilities which feature two spacious dance studios fully equipped with top of the line sprung floors and marley, large observation windows looking into the studios, dressing rooms, locker rooms, and a comfortable lounge area.
THE TOTAL DANCE EXPERIENCE
What’s your pleasure? These all-around dance schools offer a full spectrum of experiences in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical and some kinds of dance you may not even have heard of.
Ambition Dance Academy
271 Pascack Road, Washington Township
The academy offers a wide range of classes, such as ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, video pop, lyrical, adult fusion workout, all-star acrobatics, salsa, ballroom, swing, break dancing, kids cheer dance, rock stars hip hop and teen jazz fusion.
Applause Performing Arts Center
21 Broadway, Woodcliff Lake
The arts center offers a comprehensive musical theater arts program with classes in singing, dancing and acting. Applause Performing Arts Center states that it is “education-focused … not star-focused.”
Art of Motion
The Performing Arts Center, second floor
17 Chestnut St., Ridgewood
Art of Motion offers studies in dance, theater, vocal music and literary and visual art projects. The nonprofit cultural center specializes in ballet, modern, jazz, Pilates, tap, theater dance, yoga, improvisation, composition and vocal lessons. Both private and master classes are available. Instructors have provided dance classes for children with autism as part of their mission to give back to the community. Art of Motion offers a special incentive: “10 Class Cards” for $150 and “20 Class Cards” for $300. These cards get “punched” every time you take class. One of the many benefits of this card is the flexibility of usage. The cards can be used for any class and at any time and will never expire. Also, a 10/20 Class Card can be used by any family member of the card owner.
1 Grand Ave., Suite 7, Englewood
Known as the largest full-service arts education organization in the area, Arts Horizons reaches more than 500,000 students, teachers and parents in hopes to bring innovative art programs to their lives, with a focus in art, dance, theatre and creative writing. Among Arts Horizons most ardent supporters is Broadway legend, Celeste Holm, a testament to the value of this special arts organization.
30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood
(201) 816-8160, ext. 33
One of the educational programs of bergenPAC, Beyond Dance offers classes in creative movement, ballet, jazz, contemporary, ethnic fusion, hip-hop, urban street, rhythm tap, classical, Pilates, belly dancing, yoga and tap. Classes are designed for children and adults of all ages with all different levels of experience. Beyond Dance students have access to workshops and master classes with dancers from well known companies such as Alvin Ailey II, David Parsons and Pilobolus. Each year, younger dancers have the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker with New Jersey Ballet.
Broadway Bound Dance Center
99 West Madison Ave., Dumont
Offers classes for the beginner to the advanced professional, from 2 years to seniors, in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, pointe, lyrical, Pilates, Dancercise and Zumba. Admission into the professional dance company is by audition only. The center also offers classes for children with autism. Visit the website to take a virtual tour of the facilities. A special feature is the one-way observation mirrors that allow parents to watch their children without disturbing the class in session. Voice, drama and musical theatre classes are also available for budding stage professionals.
Center Stage Dance Studio Inc.
12 Overlook Ave., Rochelle Park
The studio offers classes for children age 2-½ to adult in ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, lyrical, hip hop, leap and learn and modern.
Cresskill Performing Arts
300 Knickerbocker Road, Suite 1100, Cresskill
260 Grand Ave., Englewood
Cresskill Performing Arts offers classes in ballet, tap, jazz (lyrical, theater, contemporary and funk), hip-hop, acting and improv, triple-threat (singing, dancing and acting), yoga, arts and crafts, voice, fencing and more. Summer camps are also available. Lessons cater to adults as well as to children as young as 2-½ years old.
12-38 River Road, Fair Lawn
Classes at Dance Designs include tap, ballet, hip-hop, modern, theater dance, belly dancing, Da Funk, vocal, Latin Dance and tap ballet. While most other dance schools are competitively geared, Dance Designs is focused on the process.
516 River Road, New Milford
Classes for ages 2 through teen include ballet, jazz, tap, musical theater/pop jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, gymnastics/acrobatics, leaps and turns and pointe.
Dance Education Unlimited
31 Prospect Terrace, Tenafly
Dance Education Unlimited offers a dance, theater, and exercise studio that features all genres of dance and musical theater, along with a number of fitness classes.
In the Spotlight
168 Franklin Turnpike, Waldwick
The school focuses on the importance of providing a fun, energetic and positive environment. The school’s sense of pride stems from many of its graduating students that have gone on to professional careers both in movies, on television and Broadway. One such pro is Kelly Sheerins, who taps and kicks with the best of them as one of the Radio City Rockettes.
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades
School of Performing Arts
411 E. Clinton Ave., Tenafly
The JCC School of Performing Arts offers pre-professional as well as recreational classes, workshops and performance opportunities for preschoolers to adults at many levels. The school offers private coaching/lessons in acting, singing and dance. Classes and workshops for ages 3-10 are open only to JCC members.
Look Sharp Performing Arts Center
25 N. Spruce St., Ramsey
Look Sharp Performing Arts Center encourages young dancers to develop pride and self-confidence while discovering a passion for the arts.
Lynn’s Dance Connection
94 Berthoud St., Park Ridge
Mariann’s School of Dance
599 Valley Health Plaza, Paramus
The studio offers instruction in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical/contemporary, musical theater, tap and creative movement and adult dance and fitness classes. Classes are offered for ages 2 ½ through adult at levels from beginner through advanced.
Miss Patti’s School of Dance
85 Godwin Ave., Midland Park
Specializing in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop and character, Miss Patti’s mission is to enhance children’s level of confidence and assist them in the area of dance. Children ages 2 through teen are encouraged to join. Talk to almost any mom in Ridgewood and she’ll tell you that at least one of her daughters took classes at this popular school. In addition to the annual recital where children can perform routines from each of their classes, students may also participate in an annual production of "The Nutcracker," proceeds of which benefit Julie Dance, a charity founded in memory of the daughter of the school’s founders.
Northern Valley Dance Academy
516 Livingston St., Norwood
Northern Valley Dance Academy's mission is to inspire, empower, and spark creativity in young people through the joy of dance. Classes include dance beginnings, jazz, hip-hop, ballet, tap, lyrical, crew, modern and pointe.
Nunnbetter Dance Theatre
25 S. Washington Ave., Bergenfield
The name of this Bergenfield dance school suits it to a tee. Founded by Leath Nunn, a seasoned professional with more than 35 years of experience, Nunnbetter dance theatre offers a wide range of dance programs ranging from ballet to modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop for students as young as 3 to through professional and a full adult program.
The school recently inaugurated a pre-professional program for students who are interested in a career in dance. The program is especially designed to prepare young students seeking degrees in dance for the college admissions process as well as to audition for professional companies.
Ridgewood Performing Arts Center
215 Chestnut St., Ridgewood
(201) 251-RPAC (7722)
Ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, tap, musical theater, fusion and contemporary
Founders Alexia Hess-Sheehan and Amy Armbrister combined their years of professional dancing experience in both ballet and musical theater with more than 10 years of dance education to establish their own performing arts center. Miss Alexia and Miss Amy are well-known for their positive teaching methodologies and their abilities to inspire young dancers. They are also tough, no-nonsense instructors – as other the other members of the team – and make sure that students are committed to the routine.
Robin Horneff Performing Arts Center
4 North St., Suite 400, Waldwick
The prestigious and internationally known company was created to allow anyone with a passion for dance to join and showcase their abilities. The company has been invited to perform at the Sydney Olympics, the Atlanta Olympics and the Orange Bowl. In order to become a part of the company, students must audition at the conclusion of the summer dance program. Earlier in her career, founder and dancing queen Horneff worked with Dean Martin, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. She danced on Broadway and in the movies before deciding to found her own school. Her experience is worth its weight in gold.
Tenafly Arts, LLC
5 Atwood Ave., Tenafly
Classes include ballet, pointe, tap, theater-dance, jazz/hip-hop, workout/conditioning, Yoga and Zumba. Plus musical instruction in piano, voice, violin, viola, guitar and flute.
Discover the beauty and rigor of traditional Irish step dancing.
Ridgewood Irish Dance
215 Chestnut St., Ridgewood
Students at this school have to step lively – literally! With a love and dedication to Irish dance, the mission of the school is to present students with a non-competitive environment. The class structure encourages informal learning but provides structure in the fundamentals of footwork, timing, body position and stage presence. Be mindful that performance attire is expensive, but an investment. Students at the school are encouraged to participate in Rose of Tralee, an international celebration of Irish heritage.
Dancing is as easy as 1, 2, 3 … 1, 2, 3 … 1, 2, 3.
Grand Ballroom Dance Studio
85 Godwin Ave., Midland Park
The Grand Ballroom focuses on strengthening dance skills through their private and small class instruction. Introductory classes for beginning dancers are available through private lessons. Located just a few doors down from Miss Patti’s School of Dance in the Goffle Road side of the Midland Park Shopping Plaza, this is the perfect studio for soon-to-be-married couples to get their feet wet on the dance floor and learn a few steps for their wedding songs.
Battista Dance Studio
255 Hudson St., Hackensack
Battista thrives on their reputation for providing students with a warm and friendly environment. The studio is best known for their superb classes in ballroom, Latin and hip-hop. Battista was chosen as the best dance studio in Bergen in the first “Best of Bergen Readers Poll” for (201) magazine.
WHERE TO SHOP
Need leotards, tights, shoes and other dance accessories? Many of the schools sell, merchandise on premise, but there are also a few shops in Bergen that provide an excellent selection for the budding ballerina, tap, jazz or hip-hop dancer.
Cedar Hill Shopping Plaza
525 Cedar Hill Ave., Wyckoff
The expertise is worth waiting for at this dance supply shop. It gets very crowded the first week or two of September when dance classes resume, but inventory is deep and plenty of styles and sizes are available.
14 Wilsey Square, Ridgewood
The shop is small, but packed solid with high-quality merchandise. Owner offers discounts for frequent shoppers. (CHECK)
The Dancer’s Closet
687 River Road, New Milford
Authorized dealers for Bloch, Capezio, Danskin and Leo's dancewear. Offers special promotions throughout the year including a 10 percent discount with studio affiliation.
On One Dancewear
1 E. Palisade Ave., Englewood