Time to start limbering up: Dubai’s dancefloors are buzzing this month. Sunday September 16 is International Zouk Flash Mob Day, a global event encouraging people around the world to get together to dance the same choreography (the Dubai portion takes place at Savage Garden in the Capitol Hotel, Satwa). Want another chance to show off your moves? Dubai International Dance Festival, on Wednesday October 17, is set to be bigger than ever this year, with more than 400 renowned and professional dancers preparing to take to the floor.
Time Out couldn’t help but get swept up in the rhythmic excitement. We sent our troops to dance studios around town, rating classes by difficulty, embarrassment level and simple practicality, and turned up some surprising results…
African dance Rebecca Milford, chief sub-editor What is it? This energetic ladies-only class focuses on movements that are ‘unique to Africa’s dance heritage’. The first lesson: This is more of an exercise class than a technical dance session, so you don’t need any prior knowledge or training. Teacher Liris explains the basic steps, which are then linked together into a short routine to the thumping African drum beat. It’s surprisingly energetic, with jumping, arm-waving and bum-jiggling – some of the moves are impossible to pull off with a straight face. Difficulty: 2/5 Embarrassment: 3/5 Best for: Those who want to work up a sweat with a big grin on their face. Dhs60 per class, Dhs550 for ten. Mon 6.30pm. Exhale Dubai, Murjan 1, JBR, www.exhaledubai.com (04 424 3777).
Argentine tango Holly Sands, Body & Mind editor What is it? Originating in 19th-century Buenos Aires, Argentine tango has a variety of different styles, and a faster pace than ballroom tango. Dances are conducted with partners, in an embrace that can be anything from arms’ length to chest-to-chest. The first lesson: A lesson with husband-and-wife team Cesar and Elizabeth is a fast-moving experience. After the first steps are demonstrated, I’m paired up with Cesar to attempt the basics. As with any partner dance, I quickly find how important it is to allow myself to be led (guys, you’ll need to learn to lead with confidence – your partner is relying on you). Difficulty: 3/5 Embarrassment rating: 2/5 Best for: Those wanting to learn a sophisticated partner dance and impress at social occasions. Private lessons Dhs250 for singles, Dhs375 for couples. Beginner group classes Dhs80 per session, Dhs900 for 15 classes. Latin Soul Dubai, Icon Tower, TECOM, www.latinsouldubai.com (050 474 6249).
B-Boying Adam Wilson, group picture editor What is it? B-boying, commonly known as breakdancing or ‘breaking’, originated in New York in the early ’70s. It’s one of the four elements of hip-hop.
The first lesson: Being a breakdancing novice (actually, a complete dancing novice) I’m apprehensive about taking part in such an energetic and physically demanding workout. Yet the friendliness of the class, including instructor David, soon puts me at ease. After the first few steps I realise I’m not a natural: this consists of remembering steps and creating a routine in time with my co-dancers. I manage most of the moves, although putting them in the right order proves more difficult.
Best for: The young, fit, urban and edgy. Dhs300 per session, Dhs800 per month for 12 classes. First International Dance Studio, City Avenue, Deira, www.firstids.com (04 252 5080, 056 605 5265).
Ballet Kate Hazell, contributor What is it? Forget ‘jazz-ballet’ or any different form of contemporary twist on the art – this class is classic ballet as we know it.
The first lesson: The class is taught by the school’s founder, Sharmila Kamte, who is extremely enthusiastic, encouraging and clearly loved by all her smiling students. You’re assumed to know your plié from your pointes – don’t expect her to explain each move as she sings out the French ballet terminology, although this class is anything but intimidating.
Best for: This isn’t for the self-conscious, faint-hearted or tight-limbed – be prepared to wear a leotard and tights, and don’t be afraid to sweat. Dhs60 per class. Beginners Sun and Wed 5pm; advanced Sun and Wed 6pm-7.30pm. Sharmila Dance, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4777 ext 209).
Cha cha Peter Feely, Time Out Guides assistant editorWhat is it? The cha cha originated in Cuba in the ’50s. The dance features a syncopated fourth beat, and this tricky rhythm can be difficult for beginners to get the hang of.
The first lesson: My introductory lesson isn’t limited to learning the cha cha. Agota, my teacher, takes me through the basics of a number of dance styles, focusing on rhythm, balance and confidence. Things start with simple instructions and direction, then we complete a number of graceless rotations around the ‘invisible swimming pool’ (attempting not to falling in). It transpires we’ve covered the cha cha, waltz, rumba and the popular meringue in 30 minutes – not bad.
Best for: Dance incompetents and shy people (the brilliant instructors can teach anyone). Dhs100 for an introductory lesson. Lessons on request. Arthur Murray Dubai, 201 Reef Tower, JLT, www.arthurmurraydubai.com (04 448 6458).
Jazz Melanie Smith, sub-editor What is it? Originating in America and the Caribbean, jazz dance was modernised in the ’30s as performers such as ballet dancer Martha Graham and Bob Fosse experimented with their styles.
The first lesson: The lesson begins with a basic warm-up that involves coordinated cross-stepping – a workout in itself. The routine is simple, but involves a couple of intricate steps that are initially tricky to grasp. I start by following my classically trained tutor’s lead, shimmying, shoulder-shaking, floor sliding, jumping and spinning, before being left to go it alone.
Best for: Those who want to avoid thegym at all costs, but still want an intricate, fast-paced workout. Dhs65 per lesson. Cello Music & Ballet Centre, Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.cellodubai.com (04 380 8282). Other locations: The Springs, The Lakes, Umm Suqeim, Palm Jumeirah, Arabian Ranches, JBR, Al Ain.
Hip-hop Jenny Hewett, Shopping & Style editor What is it? This urban dance style is an evolution of breakdancing and features many of the same moves, such as breaking, locking and popping.
The first lesson: I’m a complete beginner, so instructor Fumie goes over some basic moves before gradually teaching the first steps of a choreographed dance. The moves, called ‘pops’ and ‘locks’, look tough, but I follow myself in the mirror and copy Fumie, who’s extremely patient and more than willing to go through them step by step.
Best for: Kids, wannabe gangsters, fans of hip-hop music and anyone looking to have a laugh with their friends. Dhs50 per class, Dhs400 for ten. Mon, Wed 6pm; Fri 10am. Move Ya Dance Studio, 1502 Fortune Executive Tower, JLT (04 435 6885).
Salsa Penelope Walsh, Eating Out editor What is it? Salsa originates from Cuba, but is widely danced across all of Latin America, and each country has its own style. The style taught here is the standard ‘Miami’, usually danced at club nights.
The first lesson: We start by learning the basic steps, slowly and without music. Once I’ve got the hang of the steps through repetition, the teacher adds more steps in incremental stages (including different directions and turns), which makes it easier to digest each move before learning the next. The moves aren’t particularly elaborate or difficult, so you don’t need to be athletic to get the hang of them.
Best for: Those who want to use their new skill regularly in a social context – Dubai offers several regular salsa nights. Private classes Dhs250 per hour, Dhs2,100 for ten (individual or couple). James & Alex Dance Studios, Concord Tower, Dubai Media City (04 447 0773).
Waltz Oliver Robinson, deputy editor What is it? The waltz became fashionable as a ballroom dance in Vienna in the late 18th century and was soon being danced around Europe.
The first lesson: Though I thought I’d just be learning the waltz, instructor Yana insists that I learn the basics of waltz, foxtrot, rumba and cha cha – the principles of the footwork are all very similar, and she says learning all four will make me a better all-round dancer. The first lesson consists of getting the hang of ‘the box step’ for waltz and rumba and the basic steps for foxtrot and cha cha. Yana is amazingly patient and encouraging (and doesn’t even wince when I tread on her feet). I soon find my rhythm and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
Best for: Anyone wanting to cast off their wallflower status. I’m told that a lot of couples soon to be wed come here to practise for their first dance. Dhs100 for an introductory lesson. Lessons on request. Dance Studios JLT, HDS Tower, Studio 1204, JLT, email@example.com (04 457 9228).
Zouk Holly Sands, Body & Mind editor What is it? Also known as Brazilian lambada, and alleged to be a mere four years old, Zouk is said to be reigniting interest in partner dancing, thanks to its fast, sensual movements and the music used – many of the tunes are R&B tracks that have been speeded up and given a Latin twist.
The first lesson: Zouk instructor Samantha Ho talks me through the basics – it’s danced to a slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm, and has a distinctive head roll performed by the woman. In my session I learn basic steps, lateral steps and isolations (rotating the hips and chest separately), before Sam leads me through several songs incorporating a combination of the movements to give me a feel for the dance. A word of warning – Zouk is addictive.
Embarrassment rating: 1/5
Best for: Younger Dubaians looking for an energetic, contemporary dance that’s cooler than salsa and tango. Individual lessons Dhs150 per hour, couples lessons Dhs250. Locations and times vary. www.zouk-dubai.com (050 280 6362).
Expert comment on how VAT fees coming in 2018 will affect cost of living in Dubai
Watch – Dubai’s self-flying taxis take to the skies
Early footage shows remarkable progress being made already
US laptop ban lifted for Abu Dhabi flights, Dubai soon to follow
Passengers flying to the US can now carry electronic devices on board
Dubai Police remind residents about home security service
Don’t forget they can keep an eye on your home while you’re away
Sandra Dec 04, 2014 09:46 am
I dance in Dance for you studio) Perfect place)))
Maya Oct 26, 2014 08:41 pm
hello, any # we can call to join this class?
Faizan Oct 09, 2014 12:37 pm
i would like to join the dance class
karamsar Sep 12, 2012 12:37 pm
i would expect at least one or two bellydance or khaleeji (a very distinct, traditional gulf dance style) teachers/studios included in such coverage. apparently the authors/editors do have a lot to learn about dance. but, don't they even know which part of the world they live at?