Dance Classes for Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Toddler Dance Lessons

    (4 replies)

    Can anyone recommend a dance studio in or around Oakland for a 2.5 year old? Preference for someplace with a bit of diversity. 


    My friend April teaches a Dance With Me class for toddlers at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. I haven’t taken it myself, but she’s a wonderful movement artist that I’ve known for several years. I plan on taking her class when my baby is old enough.

    Check out Kids N dance at Patterson and MacArthur. We love them so much. Our daughter started there when she was 2 with teacher Ariel and has continued to do camps and such for the past 7 years!  I think you will find diversity, and also a very loving and supportive environment. 

    Kids n Dance on Macarthur Blvd is a fun and nurturing environment for small children to fall in love with dance. I can also recommend Tutu School in Montclair. The Oakland Parks & Rec Department used to have kiddie dance classes with Miss Marilyn, not sure if that’s still going on. Oakland Ballet School on Piedmont Blvd is very diverse and your youngster may like their pre-ballet class. We did them all. 

    Hello Amgcooley, 

    We have sent our daughter to the Tutu school in Montclair, which has classes down to 18 months old. Kids n Dance in Laurel, with Teacher Ariel, is also great, but the child has to be 3.


  • My daughter (10yrs) has been taking ballet dance class since she was three. We are moving to North Berkeley area and I would love to hear recommendations for dance school in El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, and Oakland area. Preferably modern dance class, but my daughter is also interested in learning hip hop dance. Let me know if you know of a great dance school please! Thank you. 

    Zwaandance on Shattuck is amazing! My daughter and many of her friends have been taking classes there for years. They also offer hip-hop classes. The teachers are truly amazing! 

    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.

    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. 

  • My 11yo daughter and some friends have the opportunity to do a short dance at Zellerbach Hall on the Cal Campus as a part of a college dance showcase. However, they are asking that we have a studio teacher licensed by the state to teach and look after the welfare of minors on hand for the tech rehearsal and performance. I was wondering where I could find such a person and what their rate might be? Any help would be much appreciated, thank you!


    Hi, I would contact Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, which runs excellent dance classes for kids and teens.  They are located at 2704 Alcatraz in Berkeley; their phone number is 510-654-5921, and their email address is info [at]  One of their teachers might be interested in doing this for pay.  

    Bonnie Katz-Hughes was our favorite when my child was doing this kind of work. I have no idea if she is still in business, but her number was 415-332-7755 and her Linked in is: Also Nancy Hayes Casting keeps a list of certified studio teachers that is probably current:

  • My two children attended classes at Van der Zwaan dance school this past year. They loved the classes, but the recitals weren’t right for our family. I am looking for a dance school (particularly ballet) that doesn’t have Zwaan’s style of extremely costly (time and money) recitals every year. If you have a recommendation, please describe the recitals including cost if possible. 

    Try Danspace in Oakland.  Free recitals.  No costumes.  That was about 7 years ago.  In the studio, guests sat on folding chairs.

    Most schools have participation in dance recitals as "optional" but when 90% of the regular class time is spent on rehearing the recital dance it feels like they must participate.  So I would look for schools where class time is spent learning to dance, not learning one dance.   At Berkeley Ballet Theater where my child is a student, participation in recitals IS optional.  You can not participate in the Nutcracker or Spring recitals without noticing a difference- class is still the same and did not include preparation for the recitals at my child's level (cannot speak for others).  If you do choose to participate in the recital, you need to pay a recital fee (I think about 150) but it includes about 8 additional rehearsals on the weekends (tasteful costumes are provided for the show but not yours to keep).  There are also several dress rehearsals the week of the shows and a charge for tickets for recitals.  So they are not less time or money at all, but something you can forgo knowing that your child is still getting excellent ballet instruction.  Another great thing about BBT rehearsals and recitals is that they start and end exactly on time, are a very reasonable length of time, and demonstrate high quality dancing.  Having sat through many dance recitals at multiple places, this is something I really appreciate!  Hopefully you'll hear from others who can speak about other non-ballet experiences, but if you are looking for ballet instruction I really recommend BBT.  

    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. 

    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!

    My daughter has been attending Danspace in Rockridge for the last 11 (!) years and the recitals happen once a semester, in the studio, for about 1/2 hour.  No extra cost, no extra time.  Families are asked to bring a snack to share for a gathering at the studio afterward.  As my daughter has gotten older, she has participated in the Secret Nutcracker which does require extra money (about $100) and an extra one time a week Saturday rehearsal. But this is optional.  There have been other opportunities to participate in dance productions, but we've found them to be really reasonable with regards to money and time.  In fact, we have never paid extra for costumes.  I don't know how they do it, but they provide the costumes.  Danspace is a small, low-key, but well-run studio that has given my daughter a great foundation in dance, while building her confidence.  She feels like she is part of a caring dance community.  Check it out:

    East Bay Dance Center. No $$$ recital fee. My child goes here for hip hop dance but they have ballet as well. 

    I highly recommend Berkeley City Ballet.  My daughter started four years ago at age 4 in pre-ballet and is now in their pre-professional program.  The teachers are amazing.  It is serious, high quality ballet instruction, but the teachers are very experienced and appropriate to the age they are teaching.  They did great with my daughter when she first started and was a bit of a firecracker.  For pre-ballet, there are no recitals, only a quarterly 15 minute observation of the class for parents.  In the pre-professional program, they put on an impressive Nutcracker performance, a spring concert, and a summer performance.  These are tasteful, high quality performances and are included in the annual performance fee.  Additionally, the tuition is reasonable, and the policy for make-up classes for the pre-ballet levels is very flexible.  We love it!

  • we are looking for a fun dance class for our daughter that will be 5 in March.  Although she loved the idea of ballet she really wants to hop, move and groove!  Looking in the north Oakland or Berkeley areas.  Thanks!  

    Teddy bear hip hop at Destiny arts. Amazing nonprofit. Great classes

    Kids n' Dance in the Laurel District in Oakland is worth the drive. They have all kinds of different dance classes for all ages. It is fun and non competitive. They also have an excellent musical theater program. Also check out Shawl Anderson in Berkeley.

    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!

    There are lots of classes for 4/5 year olds at Van der Zwann dance studio on Shattuck between Vine and Cedar. Very nice studio! 

    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.

  • Dance Classes for 6yo and 8yo - not ballet

    (8 replies)

    Hi! Looking for more current recs for an 8 yo boy and 6 yo girl for a fun (not ballet) dance class they can do at the same time in the East Bay (Berkeley north). No place that does recitals where the girls wear makeup, no glitzy costumes, some place or some teacher that won't make them feel incredibly awkward and unfunky. They are inclined to hip hop (nae nae, dab) more than, say, Irish dance, but I'll consider anything that's not ballet. The archives are old. Thank you!!

    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.

    Try the Fluid Feet class for children, offered by Albany Rec. I know the instructor, who is a professional and a kind, patient parent and community member. I think the Albany Rec activity guide publishes her name and contact info if you want to reach out to her to make sure the class is indeed a match before signing up.

    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.

    You may want to check out creative dance, world dance, or tap at The Beat in West Berkeley. Creative and world are back to back, which you may need to do with the two ages, but they are fun classes with a great teacher.

    Definitely check out BrasArte on San Pablo and Hearst.  It's a Brazilian cultural center and they have several kids classes. I can personally recommend the Tuesday Brazilian and Saturday Brazilian Ballroom. Both classes have boys and girls. The kids do have the option to perform in festivals and parades (wearing amazing home-made, one-of-a-kind costumes) but hopefully this doesn't turn you off! Happy to answer any questions you have! 

    I think Destiny Arts is a wonderful organization and they are in very north Oakland so not too far at all from Berkeley. My 8-year-old has been taking hip-hop there since September, twice a week.  The teachers and staff are wonderful, warm and diverse.  They had a performance in December which was a terrific celebration of community and the only "costume" required was the Destiny t-shirt (and even that is not a dealbreaker).  There might be another performance in spring, but I'm not sure. They do a lot of work in various afterschool programs as well. I think they are so wonderful that if I won the lottery I would write them a gigantic check.

    Hi, if the 6-year-old will be 7 by the end of July, I recommend DanceVersity at Ashkenaz, it's a mix of world and ethnic dances so the costumes are more fun than glitzy.

    There is a fabulous new camp being offered in Albany - Irish Dance Camp. The teacher (Barbara Butkus) is wonderful with the kids and an amazing dancer. For more information, check out the Albany Activity Guide.

    July 24-July 28
    Ages: 8-17
    $190 (resident)/$200 (non-resident)

    Barbara is also hosting an Irish Dance Night at the Albany Community Center on Friday, June 23. Only $5 and children under 12 are free!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Dance classes for 6.5 yo

Jan 2012

My daughter is 6 1/2 yo first grader who loves to dance. She has taken creative movement, pre-ballet and gymnastics dance classes at Kids and Dance (Laurel Dist. Oakland) for 4 years. After a break of four months, she is asking to start classes again. I am looking towards the next level of class that will offer more rigor in terms technique and studio discipline. I am looking for a dance school/company that she can grow into over the next several years. Things that are important are: Ability to nurture the fun and creativity of dance for young dancers while developing their discipline; performance opportunities for lower level students; emphasis on ballet as providing an essential grammar and technique; opportunities for instruction in a diversity of styles and techniques; and ability to prepare highly motivated students for advanced level classes and/or pre-professional and professional training (her aunt had a successful career as a professional ballet and modern dancer, and my daughter us ''interested,'' insofar as a first grader can be, in being a dancer when she grows up). We live in the East Bay, she attends school in San Francisco. We are open to considering studios Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, or Emeryville for weekend classes; and in San Francisco after 4pm on Tuesdays though Fridays. I have read the posted reviews, and am seeking updates. What worked for your family's aspiring dancer, what did not, and why and how? Thanks in advance. SD

Look into Danspace in Rockridge. anon

I know you didn't specify El Cerrito in your post, but my kids have danced at Katie's Dance Studio on San Pablo Ave. for 6 years, since they were 6 and 4. We've taken ballet, tap & jazz, hip hop and acrobatics. They like it very much, and the teachers are great. Strict, as well as fun. There's an annual recital where the kids can perform a routine they have learned between September and June. Dance mom

Looking for Movement/Modern Dance for 6 yr old

Nov 2011

My daughter really loved the movement class she had at school last year, taught by an Alexander teacher, who is no longer with the school. I really would like her to find her a dance class that's Martha-Graham, free movement oriented, rather than one that teaches a particular form. She loves dancing around the house, making up her own dances, I imagine that someone where out there is a teacher in Oakland or Berkeley who tells kids to ''dance like snowflakes'', or ''be a tree'' Anyone got something they like that fits the bill? Searching Mama

Check out Kids N Dance. Their dance classes are based on imagination and storytelling through movement Dance skills are taught but children don't realize it because they are caught up in the fantasy world created in the class. Anon

Kids dance in LaMOrinda or WC??

Oct 2010

Hi BPN; Looking for a good dance class in LaMOrinda or WC - not 'good' as in politically good and 'the' place to be, but 'good' as in building a solid dance foundation. Want tap, ballet, and general dance 'stuff' - not so much modern dance, as my girls are 6, 4.5 and 3 and some of that is a little uh, provocative, for this age - just my opinion. We have been LOVING Riverdance, so I think tap and ballet are a good place to start. Just want something that interests them and is great exercise, individual rather than team at this point, discipline, etc......but do not know where to start. I am not looking for a place that is concerned about the leotards and tutus......I want to build some skills and foundation. Please advise and thank you. DiscoMama

I strongly recommend ACE Dance in Walnut Creek. My daughter has danced with one of the founders for several years. She has fun in class and has really learned the fundamentals. Coleen

Kids 'N Dance in Lafayette sounds like what you are looking for. They are not formal - don't require uniform dance wear, and they certainly are as far away as you can get from glitzy 'provocative' competitive dance. Young kids are taught basics using creative imagery and they do costumed story dances every week. Older dancers get more formalized instruction but never high pressure. My daughter has been with them for years and I have seen kids come in from more 'serious' studios (required to attend 2-3 times per week) and they have little to show for it compared to the regulars at Kids 'N Dance. Add the fact that they have totally enthusiastic teachers and you have to look no further. aon

Fun Dance Class in North East Bay

Sept 2008

I saw there are some recommendations for wonderful dance instructors for young children in Berkeley and Oakland. We live in Fairfield, so getting to Berkeley and Oakland is a little too time-consuming on a weekday. Does anyone know of a fun dance instructor in Pleasant Hill, Concord, Walnut Creek or anywhere else in that area? If it helps, I have a 6 year old daughter and a 4 year old son who wanna dance! TIA! Michelle

Hi- I used to live in Green Valley until recently so I know your driving pain. Even when I lived in Fairfield I still drove to Pleasant Hill to dance with Funkmode. They have adult hip hop one night a week and also Saturday mornings. They also have kid classes. The instructors, Mighty and Cara, rock. Bust a Move!

Dance Birthday Party for 5-year-old

Sept 2008

Our son turns 5 in December and we are looking for a place to have a ''Dancing with Dinosaurs'' birthday party. he really likes hip hop dance but any kind of dancing will do. the place needs to accommodate 60 people(20 or so kids), let us bring food and be FUN! anyone have any idea please shoot me an email thanks!

Check out Kids N Dance in Oakland or Lafayette ( -- I've been to a couple parties there and the instructors are great at working a theme/story (we went to princesses and dragons, but maybe they can do dinos) into dance and getting the kids involved. You can bring food, too. Sounds Like Fun

2004 - 2007 Recommendations

Dance and Singing Classes for 2nd Grader

July 2007

I am looking for dance (type is flexible) or singing classes for my entering 2nd grade daughter. She is talented in both activities and we are wanting some afternoon classes for her to enjoy. Any assistance will be appreciated. Thank-you. Lisa

Kids 'N Dance in the Laurel District has a variety of dance classes and they have fabulous musical theater classes. We went to a recent production of ''Grease'' with kids from 6-11 years old. The script was appropriately modified and the kids pulled off a totally entertaining show. Worth checking out. They have a anon

Class for 5-year-old in Lamorinda

Sept 2004

I'd appreciate recommendations for a dance class in the Lamorinda area (or Walnut Creek) on Saturdays or Sundays for my 5 year old daughter. We know about Kids-N-Dance in Lafayette, and we'd love names of some additional places to try. Thanks! Maryanne

Lamorinda Ballet Center (LBC) in Moraga at the Rheem Shopping Center has Saturday morning ballet classes. Their number is (925) 376-0661-Lynne is the owner. It's next to the Child Day School. The Rheem Shoppping Center is at the intersection of Moraga Road and Rheem Blvd and it's a nice place to hang out while you wait-there's a Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, benches, etc. dancemom

2003 & Earlier


Classes for 11-year-old




26 Apr 96

RE; Tall, 11 yr old daughter: She's definitely not too tall or too old. SHe may be around some 8 yr old beginners, but she'll learn fast. And that's better than being around other 11 yr old children who've been practicing for 3 years. So the rough part, subjectively, will be being tall. But if you tell her that good posture means being as tall as possible for everyone, then she may feel positive.

26 Apr 1996

Re: the dance inquiry for an 11-year-old: it's definitely not too late to start! Once again, I recommend observing a class at the school you're interested in to get a feel for the teacher and the atmosphere. The dance studio I mentioned before, Luna, serves a diverse population of kids and adults and the owner, Patricia Reedy, believes very strongly in life-long dancing (any age, any body type).

Other Classes

There is a creative movement class at the Albany Y for children who are between 3 and 6. They wear leotards, or leotards with tutus attached (it seemed that the outfit was an essential part of your daughter's consideration.)It is on Tuesday afternoon. The teacher is dynamic, and the movement/dance seems very age appropriate. If the time and/or place aren't convenient for you, maybe the teacher, Katherine, teaches at other sites. C.D.

I've also heard good things about Little Dancing Feet for 2-4 year olds offered by the University Village Recreation Department in Albany Village. Call 524-4926 for specifics.

another more expensive option is the dance class offered for kids at Studio J in Berkeley on 8th Street near Parker. The adult jazz classes are terrific and have heard the class that's appropriate for 2 1/2 and up is a lot of fun. It's pricier though--it may be as much as $10-15/class. (Studio J is now The Beat )

For all of you looking for dance-type classes, we did Windmill Gymnastics in Richmond for a few years (my daughter was not interested in dance) and that seemed another good way to work toward style and grace in movement. Also, I don't know if she is still there but they had an instructor, Maureen, who has her own dance classes in the area and I'll bet they are really good. Maureen did all the choreography for the gymnasts and it was well done.

El Cerrito Community Center

From: Rose (9/97)

Check out the El Cerrito Community Center. Rosalyn Jordan teaches ballet and tap in the afternoons. Classes are open to residents and non-residents and tend to be small. Also Katie's Dance Studio on San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito has combination jazz, tap and tumbling classes for 3 1/2 - 6 yr. olds on Monday nights and Wednesday afternoons. Call them at 524-1310 to get a current class schedule. Their classes tend to be larger, especially the Saturday ones, which tend to be too large.