Shawl-Anderson Dance Studio

Preschoolers, Kinder, School-Aged, Preteens, Teens, Adults

Parent Reviews

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HI the Shawl Anderson Dance center is a wonderful stuido with modern and ballet classes for chidlren and Adults. The studios are in a converted house on the corner of College and Alcatraz, just up the block from Mitama Japanese restaurant on the corner. 

I highly recommend Shawl Anderson, on Alcatraz near College Ave.  It's a wonderful local institution that was founded decades ago to teach modern dance, and also offers ballet, jazz, and hip-hop classes to all ages.  My daughter studied there for many years (age 4-17) and loved her teachers, several of whom are still there.  There's a supportive, creative energy about the place that I really love.

I hope you also get replies of parents of children in that age group, but I’ve taken adult beginner ballet at both Shawl Anderson and Piedmont Ballet Academy, and recommend them both highly. I’ve been impressed by the progressive philosophy about things like body image and finding joy in dance, and I would expect that would carry over to avoiding gender stereotypes as well.

My kid (2.5) hates zoom. The only thing he’s willingly participated in via zoom was the parent-child dance class at Shawl-Anderson. Fun and low-key “dances” like “prance across the room” or “dance close to the computer and then far away.” 

Shawl Anderson would probably be a great option for your family— I believe you opt-in to performances and it’s for the older students!

I would highly recommend Shawl Anderson Dance Studio. Performances are low key and there have never been any costs specifically associated with the performance at the end of the session. 

check out Dance with Me at Shawl Anderson. I did morning sessions with my two year old last year and it was really fun. 

Shawl Anderson Dance Center has a great parent & toddler class called Dance with Me.

Shawl Anderson Dance Center has classes for very young children. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen toddler-parent classes there and the studio is a happy place for dancers young and older. 

RE: Pilates for Dancers? ()

Shawl anderson dance center in Alcatraz just above college has two Pilates classes- they are for anyone, but many dancers take these classes. Suzanne Martin, who teaches on Saturday mornings, was a dance professor and now is a physical therapist who works with many dancers, including professional ballet dancers. I believe Patricia Banchik, who teaches at BBT, teaches the weekday Pilates class. Your daughter can likely talk privately with either teacher to get specific tips for how the work in class relates to her ballet practice. 

Shawl Anderson on Alcatraz Ave x College Ave in Berkeley (on border of Oakland) My 10 year old daughter is taking ballet for the first time and loves it. 

Hi- check with Shawl Anderson. It’s a very friendly studio with a robust program for kids ages 3 through teen. They offer good ballet instruction in a warm manner. 

My daughter really enjoyed dance classes at Shawl-Anderson on Alcatraz just above College Ave.  It was modern, I guess, but appropriate for little girls (she was 6-7 when she went there).  Lots of movement, lots of fun.

my girls have been doing modern at shawl anderson which is right on college near the big safeway. the modern teachers for young children are fantastic and understand the kids need to move and be creative. they also do a hip hop class for young kids, although i have found most kids are not quite coordinated enough until age 5. 

good luck!

Shawl-Anderson Dance Center is wonderful.  They are in South Berkeley on Alcatraz by College Ave.  Shawl-Anderson's main emphasis is on modern dance but they do have ballet classes too.  The teachers are fantastic and they are so encouraging of the kids.  There is also a whole community of adult dancers, some of them seniors and life-long dancers, who go there for weekly classes.  Shawl-Anderson does not encourage anorexia nor does it value only one type of body--it's not a tutus and tiaras kind of place at all.

Look into Shawl Anderson on the corner of College and Alcatraz on the Berkeley/Oakland border. They are the best for modern/jazz, very low key, no glittery outfit and makeup. They have beginner/intermediate/advanced classes for kids, youth and adults, and also a pre-professional modern dance program for teens.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2014

RE: Ballet for 4 year old twins

We tried out various dance studios in the Berkeley area for my 2 daughters. We did not try Berkeley City Ballet, but my favorite , in order from most favorite to least, was Shawl Anderson, Danspace, Berkeley Ballet Theater, and last would be Kathryn Roszack. At Shawl Anderson, they teach a love of movement for little ones. A plus is that for your son, there is a class just for boys taught by a really great teacher as he gets older. I recommend a dance class that is not too rigid for little ones. They can seek out the more rigid aspects of ballet as they get older.

    Oct 2011

    Re: Dance for 3-year-old boy
    my son loved dance classes at shawl-anderson, on alcatraz near college avenue. he especially loved a modern dance class with maurice charriere, who still teaches there. the website is Lucy

    Sept 2010

    Re: Ballet classes for adults?

    Shawl Anderson in Rockridge. They are on Alcatraz, just a few doors east of College Ave. A word of caution: This is a serious dance school (professional dancers take classes there), so the class levels are 'real'. I am in the same boat as you; did ballet for years growing up, and am still in relatively decent shape... or so I thought. The Intermediate class absolutely kicked my butt! maia

    Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, 2704 Alcatraz @ College in Oakland ( is a wonderful place for ballet and other types of dance for all ages. In my late thirties, I took ballet at a school at Church/Market in SF where the instructors wanted to work with the ballet *body-type.* It was very discouraging, so I signed up with Shawl-Anderson and never felt out of place as an older student with a non-stereotypical ballerina body. Nice dance studio, school and folks. Marie

    Oct 2006

    Would like to hear about any recent experiences with the Shawl- Anderson Dance Center, especially with their children's dance classes. I am looking for a new ballet class (and possibly modern dance class) for my 8 year old daughter; she has been taking and loving dance class since she was 3; we would like to get away from the yearly Nutcracker selection process. Shawl- Anderson looks like a good fit, but we do not know anyone who attends class there. Thanks in advance Susan

    My 10-year-old daughter has taken ballet from Reenie at Shawl-Anderson for almost a year. She really enjoys it and is progressing quickly. She also takes the jazz class with Shauna twice a week, which she loves. The classes are serious, but without lots of frills or strict dress codes. If you are trying to avoid the pressure of Nutcracker schedules and casting, Shawl-Anderson might be a good fit. Another positive is that the classes tend to be smaller than those at some of the other Berkeley schools. Feel free to contact me if you have questions Elisa

    Re: Dance classes for 7-year-old BOY (Feb 2005)
    My daughter takes dance at Shawl Anderson (corner of College and Alcatraz), and there is a boy in the modern class, which is 4:45-5:30 on Tuesdays, and another boy in ballet, which is from 3:30-4:30 on Thursdays. My son (almost 4) takes modern class there too.

    Re: Ballet lessons for 5-year-old (Feb. 2004)
    First, let me start be saying that I am a former professional balley dancer, who got wildly varying levels of training as a beginner. Parents come to me all the time for advice, and are not always happy with what I tell them. First thing before that is that the program I would most recommend is at Shawl-Anderson, on Alcatraz at College Ave, with Reeny (sp?) It is the right balance between too serious and not serious enough. Reeny is terrific with the kids. They do little shows every once in a while, but they're very low key, and not the only focus at class.

    Re: Dance class for 16-year-old novice (Aug 2002)
    Dance for 16 yr old. -- My daughter is 15 and took lessons this summer at Shawl-Anderson (Alcatraz at College). She took ballet for the first time and modern dance (after one year of dance at Berkeley High). She loved it. They are beginning classes in jazz, ballet, and modern, which are grouped by age, so the older teens are in classes of other older teens learning dance at their level. We were quite impressed with the program and hope to continue. Debra