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Recommendations for Class in NYC

Guest Emsin

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Hello All,


I seek recommendations for teachers and classes in New York City at the beginner/advanced beginner/beginning intermediate levels.


It may sound strange to ask for this in a location that offers so many classes, but it's precisely the glut that poses the problem. For instance, I once went to a class for "advanced beginners" and found that it was really more for advanced professionals!!! Never again!


I took private lessons for four years and then started attending class fairly regularly at Broadway Dance Center. At the latter, Liane Plane and Dawn Hillen are my favorites. Dariusz Hochman is also a great teacher, but more challenging than the labels "beginner" or "slow beginner" might suggest.


I'm interested in hearing about the experiences of others. Thank you in advance!



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I concur with Mel. Broadway Dance Center (BDC) and Steps pay their teachers by the number of students in the class. Ballet Academy East offers a "saner" environment and pays its teachers by the class. Same with Joffrey.


I find class with Lorna Zawacki at BAE to be enlightening. She teaches many beginner classes, and is able to give ample personal attention.

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Guest Manhattnik

I remember the first time I took Dick Andros' "advanced beginner" class at the old New York School of Ballet, and wondered what all the girls in toe shoes were doing there. Yikes! I thought of Andros because I believe he's teaching at BAE now, and I remember him very, very fondly.


I'd put in a good word for Peff Modelski's intermediate classes at Steps. She gives a very solid class, and I've found her way of challenging students to visualize movements in a different way to be very, very helpful. Just my $.02.

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While it's one of those relatively large classes, I thought Dorrit Koppel at BDC was a terrific teacher-- it was an advanced beginning class, she recognized and corrected her regulars and she paid attention to the use of the upper body in a way that most teachers simply do not.


Plus she's charming as all get out.

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I have to second Mr. Johnson's vote for the Joffrey school. Aside from having the most wonderful faculty who actually understand why an adult ballet class is different from a children's ballet class, the classes are smaller than in other studios I have gone to and much more personal. There is a Elementary level class Tuesdays and Thursday from 7-8:30pm and Saturdays from 1-2:30pm and an Intermediate level class Mondays and Wednesday from 7-8:30pm. Let me know if you need more info!

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I've observed Liane Plane and Dawn Hillen's classes a number of times and both look like excellent beginner level classes. Emilietta Ettlin at BDC and STEPS teaches at the advanced beginning/Intermediate level and will spend a lot of time helping individual students and giving placement corrections. Her classes are mixed, and may be a bit fast for a "true" advanced beginner but I haven't found anyone with a more consistent and helpful approach. Her floor barre is especially useful for building strength in the inner thighs, abdominals, and upper back. The floor barre class is filled with absolute beginners in ballet up to members of NYCB corps. Anyone would benefit from this class.

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I have a question for anyone who takes classes at Joffrey... are the open classes the ones listed on the web-site as the "General Program"? It also says that you'll be placed in the appropriate class level at the time of audition... do you really have to audition?

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The audition is the most informal kind. You're told to take a class at a certain time, and that teacher will make a placement recommendation on which classes you should be taking. If you're an adult, most usually it will be one of the designated adult classes.

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I studied very briefly at the Joffrey School in their Trainee division. What I liked about my experience there as opposed to just about anywhere else in NYC is the ballet academy atmosphere. There is the sense that they are trying to take you from point A to point B to point C in a logical progression.

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In my experience, I have never heard of an adult "auditioning" for the school or even taking a placement class. The adult classes are all open classes and are very informal as far as placement. The intructors are always available before and after class to discuss placement options or moving up or down a level, but for the most part the student may make the decision as to what class is right for himself/herself. Another factor to consider is that my instructor will sometimes increase or decrease the difficulty of the class based on the students present so there is no real hard and fast "level" of difficulty.

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That was exactly my experience, Ashat. Sometimes my teacher gave the Adult Beginner II class the same center as the advanced/professional class just preceeding it. Perhaps at a slower tempo, but not necessarily.

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Hi, I lived in NYC last year - and took class in most places, with a lot of different teachers. Here are my findings on ballet teachers:



Peter Schabel at Broadway Dance Center - (entrance next to Hard Rock Cafe)

221 West 57th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue

website: www.bwydance.com

He taught intermediate in afternoons 2:15- 4pm, and advbeg (which was of a good standard) in evenings 6:15-7:45pm (check their online schedule for details of which afternoons/evening). He has a dry sense of humour, and will pick you out individually if you are not doing your best - but he really cared about how you were dancing and did lots of corrections. I liked him - he wanted things "just so" and with a SAB/Harkness background, he had good technique.


David Howard at BDC and Steps 2121 Broadway @ 74th St (little tiny entrance leading to lift next to supermarket - it took me ages to find!)

website: Stepsnyc.com

Famous teacher with a class full of young hopefuls. David's class always has brilliant petit allegro - but he can't demonstrate any more and I found that made class more difficult to follow, and no corrections unless you are a prima ballerina


Fabrice Herrault at Steps

French style - few barre corrections, some in the centre. Intricate centre work with a penchant for brises!


Alexander Tressor at Steps

The barre of this class is good, but I found he spent the whole time flirting with pretty ballerinas or himself in the mirror... which bugged me. His grande allegro was pretty challenging, and he made the occasional general correction.


Finis Jung at Peridance, 132 Fourth Avenue between 12th + 13th street

website: www.peridance.com

He is famous as a teacher, but I was not convinced by his technique, particularly at the barre where you work away from the barre in fourth a lot. It is particularly difficult to work on your placement in this position. He paid a lot of attention to his students, but the standard in class was quite low!


Joffrey Ballet School, 434 Avenue of the Americas

I took both Anton and Dena there. I found Anton v. charming and amusing - with a fond regard for his students. Dena also took good care of her students, and made individual corrections. I must say that I thought the technique not necessarily suited to a not gifted body - very little warmup, and a lot big movements, including grand rond de jambes as the third exercise at the barre!! I have to admit that I am not ready for those after a couple of plies, and a tendue. Also, Dena will not let you make the steps any harder because "it confuses the beginners" - so no double pirouettes, no beating of petit allegro etc etc.


I also took a pointe class at the City Center - I can give you details of this if you wish!

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Also, Dena will not let you make the steps any harder because "it confuses the beginners"

Yes it's true ... and us beginners appreciate this! :huh:

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WOW - what a summary! Thank you, Zarafa!


You actually mentioned the teacher with whom I had the bad experience noted in my first post, and your description fits the bill really well!


Given that I've taken lots of classes at BDC, I did take one with Peter Schabel, and I like him, but I found his style (dance, not teaching) somewhat different than what I'm used to.


I would like to know who you took pointe with at Ballet Arts (City Center), since I imagine it was Carol Sumner, and she also teaches advanced beginner and intermediate there. I'd like to know what you thought of her.


Thank you!

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