Dance lessons in Dubai

Tap, belly, Bollywood and more dance lessons to master in Dubai

Belly dancing

From: The Middle East.
Good for: Increasing your sensuality.

The hips don’t lie, promised Shakira, yet ours didn’t seem to want to move. After trying to circle one hip, keep our arms at right angles in the air, circle both hands and keep in time to the rather fast Arabic music, Nora, our teacher, declared to the rest of the class that she didn’t think we’d ever felt our hips before (if she’d seen us on the Chi dancefloor, she might have reconsidered). But after a long day at work, followed by the dance session at Marina Mall, we admit we weren’t feeling very sexy or wiggly. The dance we learned, broken down into stages, was deceptively simple – the trick is in the detail and a sultry delivery – but we were given little context to explain the moves, so we followed as best we could, copying Nora.
Belly dancing lessons with Nora cost Dhs65, every Sunday and Tuesday at 8pm, Dubai Marina Mall and Ductac, Mall of the Emirates. (050 395 8280).


From: All over the African continent.
Good for: A full-body workout that will put a smile on your face.

We turned up to this class expecting a cultural experience, not a workout: we were wrong. The hour-long session covered a range of moves that were easy to pick up but hard to master, and involved a lot of body popping (to work the core), arm flinging and a semi-permanent state of squatting – boy, did our arms and legs ache two days afterwards! The instructor, Liris, is a lively Colombian who is a fantastic dancer and encourages good technique, while keeping the tempo up so you hardly notice you’re working out. We were sweating profusely 20 minutes in. Yet the class wasn’t so choreographed that it was inaccessible – we looked silly first time round, but we imagine after a while we’d be able to convincingly move our bodies to the addictive African beat, and that it would feel pretty good.
A drop-in class costs Dhs60, every Monday at 6.30pm. Exhale, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Murjan (04 424 3777).


From: India.
Good for: Cultural understanding, and moving parts of the body you’ve never used before.

This class involved trying to copy various Bollywood routines, although the technique wasn’t explained, leaving us rather disappointed. A few moves were taught in a little more depth, but these didn’t appear until the end of the routine (by which time we’d forgotten them anyway). It seems to be a new class in its early stages – we were the only people there – and, while the foot-tapping music was inspiring, the instructor had to run back to the stereo after each song to select the next track, which made the experience rather disjointed. The session lasted an hour, yet just under half that time was spent dancing. Return to this in a few months when it may be running more smoothly, or try it if you’re already a confident dancer.
Dhs60 per class. Saturdays at 8pm. The Fairmont (other locations available), (050 174 5378).


From: USA.
Good for: Those who want to learn a new skill, but need the guidance of a patient instructor.

We thought we’d feel awkward taking our first tap class at the age of 26, imagining it to be like ballet, where you usually start learning as a cherubic six-year-old. Luckily, we were put at ease by instructor Lisa, who assured us it’s a dance that anyone can learn, with many retired women known to tap a mean toe. The class starts off with a few simple warm-ups to help stretch our limbs and muscles. We joined a class for intermediate students (ambitious, we know), but Lisa took time to show us a few basic moves that were incorporated into the more elaborate routines performed by the other students. It can get very intense, very quickly, but it’s infectious and we desperately wanted to keep up and tap away. Despite our two left feet, it was surprising that we managed to master the shuffle rather well after just one class.
Dhs60 for a trial class, Dhs550 for a term. Classes at Emirates Golf Club, Exhale Fitness and Habtoor Grand Resort (see website for timetable). Lisa Dance Dubai, (050 875 4982).

Also try…

This Spanish dance is fiery, surprisingly hard to learn and a very good workout for the arms. Join Ana Ontero every Saturday for a two-hour rundown.
Dhs100. Saturdays 11am-1pm. The Shelter, Al Quoz (04 347 3912).

This traditional Indian dance is all about telling a story, and requires a great deal of flexibility and grace (which you’ll achieve the more you practise).
Dhs75. Saturdays 11.30am-12.30pm, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates,

This Brazilian form of the lambada is sensuous and very addictive. The dance is performed with a partner, but if you turn up solo they’ll sort you out for the lesson.
Dhs40 per class. Throughout the week in various locations,

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