Ballet lessons in Dubai

Four dance studios teaching ballet to beginners in Dubai


As the Moscow City Ballet rolls into town, we reveal where you can learn the steps.

Contemporary Dance Dubai

Instructor: Krista Degaetano.

Level of class: Intermediate to advanced.

What is it exactly? A traditional ballet class with a contemporary twist, the instructor infuses standard technique with curves, contractions and arches. This class focuses on deep-rooted ballet training with more fluidity of the upper body, which provides the dancer with technical skills, but also trains them to be more versatile.

The first lesson? The first class starts with barre work and various ballet exercises, including plies, tendus, dégagé, fondu and ron de jambe, which work the muscles in the legs. We then move onto centre floor practice, which starts with a travelling adagio (slow, unfolding movements) with various turns, backwards leg lifts and arabesques, before we move into centre tendus (one of the core steps of ballet), jumps and travelling turn sequences.

The music: Classical, including Bach, Steve Reich and Kronos Quartet.

Difficulty rating. 4/5.

Best for: A dancer that has practised ballet for at least a few years.
Dhs390 for six classes over six weeks. Dhs65 for beginner ballet Mon 7.30pm; intermediate/advanced ballet Wed 7pm. Contemporary Dance Dubai, Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (050 949 5801).

Sharmila Dance Studio

Instructor: The class is usually taught by Sharmila Kamte, however this session was instructed by Emma Hayes, who knows her stuff and keeps on top of the large class. However, as a new student, I was surprised she didn’t introduce herself nor ask about previous experience, when it was quite obvious that I was an absolute beginner.

Level of class: General ballet (intermediate).

What is it exactly? The instruction is fast-paced, using French ballet terminology. What I loved about the class was how dedicated my fellow students were at perfecting their moves/steps and how encouraging they were of each other.

The first lesson? The class starts with a long barre session, which focuses on technique (toes pointed, bodies strong, stomachs in) and balance work and we cover pliés, pirouettes and pointes to name a few. The group (which includes three males) is then divided into smaller teams and we spend the remainder of the class revising (or in my case learning) some routines without the barre. These routines vary in difficulty and for those that were too complex for a beginner, I watched from the side versus making a fool of myself in front of the class.

The music: David Howard.

Difficulty rating: 5/5.

Embarrassment rating: 5/5 for first-timers.

Best for: Intermediates. This class is most definitely for people who have had some sort of ballet experience. The class is taught using ballet terminology and the examples are shown very quickly.
Dhs60 per class. Wed 5pm-6pm. DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4777).

James and Alex Dance Studio

Instructor: The good-natured Aimee Depres has a gentle approach to teaching and is about as far from a slick-haired, scary dance teacher as you can get. She has a way of saying things that puts you at ease.

Level of class: Beginner.

What is it exactly? Exercises at the barre and at the centre of the studio.

The first lesson? The class is a mix of absolute beginners and others with some experience (you can spot them, they’re kitted out in ballet shoes and leg-warmers). Aimee instructs us to hold onto the barre lightly, with a good amount of space between our hands (as if you have really hairy armpits). The first half hour focuses on barre work and we revise first, second, third, fourth and fifth positions, plies, tendues, dégagée, ronds de jambe, adage and grand battement, which works our backsides and leg muscles. Aimee instructs us to breathe through some of the slower, more controlled sequences as if we’re doing yoga and with the peaceful classical tunes in the background, I can definitely see the correlation between the two. After attempting side and centre splits on the floor, the class finishes with some corner work and leaps and turns across the floor.

The music: Piano cover of ‘How To Save A Life’ by The Fray and other classical pieces.

Difficulty rating: 3/5.

Embarrassment rating: 2/5.

Best for: Beginners. Perfect if you’re just starting out, the atmosphere is light-hearted and very welcoming.
Dhs65 per class. Wed 6pm-7pm; Sat 11am-noon. James and Alex Dance Studio, Concorde Tower, Dubai Media City (04 447 0773).

Dubai Dance Academy

Instructor: Reiko and Victoria Cheong.

Level of class: Classes on offer here range from beginners to professional levels for adults.

What is it exactly? Reiko insists it’s the only ballet school in UAE which focuses on pure and fine French classic ballet training.

The first lesson? The class gets under way with French terminology and Reiko explains the meaning of the techniques, which gives us a clearer understanding of the style. Classes are not taught according to a ballet syllabus, rather they are taught in a series of open classes, with each week focusing on different steps and terminology, to keep every lesson interesting. Stretching is an essential part of every lesson, with a number of the instructors also helpfully qualified in Pilates.

The music: Specific ballet piano music is used for lessons.

Difficulty rating: 3/5 for beginners.

Best for: Anyone looking to begin or revisit ballet, as well as those looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get better posture, strength, flexibility and coordination.
Dhs60 for an hour and a half. See schedule at Dubai Dance Academy Studio, 8th Floor, Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments, TECOM (055 362 0435).

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