BrasArte World Dance Center
Definitely check out BrasArte on San Pablo and Hearst. www.brasarte.com. 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 can't believe this place isn't better known! My daughters (ages 8 and 9) have been taking Brazilian dance classes here for the last 2 years and absolutely love it. The classes are affordable, the environment exceptionally welcoming, and the level of instruction is very high - they regularly bring guest teachers from Brazil and teach all different styles of Brazilian dance - Afro-Brazilian, all types of samba, forro, frevo, and more. There are tons of opportunities to perform - both here in Berkeley as well as at carnival in San Francisco. All costumes are lovingly made by hand! It is truly a vibrant cultural center and one of Berkeley's hidden gems. I also highly recommend the summer camp which is filled with art, crafts, dance, drumming, capoeira, Brazilian food and more. BrasArte is affordable because it's a non-profit cultural center and scholarships and sibling discounts are always available. If your kid loves to move and create, please check this place out. It's great for boys, girls, and adults as well! Caitlin S
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Consider a third option. Your daughter, at 4.5, would benefit greatly from Nona Refi's ballet classes at the Y. I've been studying ballet for 50 years (no, that is not a typo); I began at age 5 in my small home town in the NW, continued through college in L.A. and on the East Coast, and continue to study ballet in Berkeley. When I moved here in '84, I visited the theater dept at Cal, to ask the same question. (Where are the great ballet teachers?) The woman I spoke with looked over her reading glasses at me and pronounced ''My dear...Berkeley is not a ballet town.'' Well, she was kinda wrong. I studied at Shawl Anderson for a while, and then ran into Nona. Nona has been teaching at World Dancer Center / Brasarte and I love her classes. They are based on Nona's lifetime of studying ballet in the Philippines and then in New York. She understands how the body works, and how to teach ballet in the safest and most wonderful way possible, how to impart the musicality that is so important to dance, as well. She is now teaching children at the Y in Berkeley. Check it out! Melissa S Q
Re: Hip hop classes for daughter, 6 1/2 (Sept 2005)
World Dance Center, at the top of Solano Ave., has hip hop classes for kids your daughter's age. I don't personally know anyone who's taken that class, but their other classes are great. You can view their schedule at: http://www.brasarte.com/modules/week/. anon