How to Choose the Right Jazz Classes for you in NYC

February 28, 2005

Walking into NYC dance meccas Broadway Dance Center or STEPS on Broadway for the first time can be overwhelming. Your home studio probably offers generic jazz classes, but these two prominent NYC studios offer more than 20 different kinds of jazz and street dance classes. The following classes are offered in a range of levels so you can figure out which one is right for you.

Broadway Dance Center

TIP: Frank Hatchett, a jazz instructor at BDC, recommends taking a beginner class first to get to know a teacher’s style. “Then ask the teacher after class whether you should stay in the beginner level, or move up a level or two,” he says.

focuses on building strength, flexibility, technique and style. Though styles vary according to teacher, all classes emphasize connecting movement with the music.

Lyrical Jazz
begins with a ballet-based warm-up. Classes focus on dynamics, style and intensity through combinations ranging from slow and graceful to fast-paced.

Contemporary Jazz
blends modern, jazz and ballet techniques with angular movements and syncopated rhythms. Dancers should have a strong base in classical jazz technique; previous modern experience is helpful but not required.

Theater Jazz
explores different styles and periods of musical theater dance, from the Fosse 40s to the A Chorus Line 80s. Extensive technical dance training is recommended for this upbeat class.

Street Jazz
integrates innovative choreography and helps develop musicality. Ballet, hip-hop and jazz training is recommended.

Latin Jazz
spices up ballet and jazz technique with the Afro-Caribbean dance styles of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

blends classic jazz technique with hip-hop moves. Dancers should have knowledge of jazz technique.

Jazz Funk
is for dancers who want to learn music video moves. The classes incorporate street, funk and hip hop. Dancers should have a basic jazz background.

is a fusion of jazz, funk and hip hop, creating a powerful hybrid with clean lines. Dancers should be versatile and open to incorporating many styles of dance into one routine.

will give you the tools and tips to nail your next audition. The class is designed to enhance versatility through turns, jumps and club and street moves.

is inspired by the pop-and-lock style of breakdancing. Though it has a loose, impromptu look, it is extremely intricate and makes use of musical accents.

spotlights dance trends from the club scene. Experience in merengue, mambo and African dance is helpful, but not necessary.

Hip Hop
will teach the difference between hip hop, street jazz and funk dance styles. Knowing African dance basics is helpful, but not required.

focuses on the history and technique of street dance. This very disciplined class will teach you where street dance originated and where it’s headed.

STEPS on Broadway

TIP: “Your level depends on your intensity, age, learning curve and physical restrictions,” says Suzy Norton-Dicerto, assistant manager at STEPS on Broadway. “Any class at the intermediate level or higher is on a professional level.”

combines jazz elements with classical ballet fundamentals.

Modern Jazz mixes up traditional jazz vocabulary with modern elements.

Contemporary Jazz
is rooted in both classical jazz and modern, so previous modern training can put you a step ahead.

Theater Jazz explores the musical theater choreography with stylized moves often seen on Broadway.

Jazz Funk
is great for a technically trained jazz dancer wanting to learn more street-type movements.

will teach the moves seen in popular music videos. Formal dance training isn’t required. Street class is also recommended for experienced dancers who are new to hip hop.


Just because you took the highest level class at your home studio doesn’t mean you should beeline for classes labeled “advanced.” Levels in NYC studios are often significantly more difficult than those by the same name elsewhere.

Basic/Intro/Absolute Beginner:
No dance experience required.

Basic knowledge of dance required. One to three years of dance experience recommended.

Advanced Beginner:
For dancers wanting to perfect the basics. Three to five years of dance experience recommended.

A fast-paced class. Five to seven years of dance training recommended.

Advanced Intermediate:
Seven to ten years of dance recommended.

For the preprofessional to professional dancer.

Jazz It Up

Seeking more jazz in NYC? These major dance facilities also offer a variety of jazz classes:

•The Ailey School

•Dance Space

•Luigi’s Dance Centre

•Peridance Center