With a population of nearly 5 million, Melbourne is the second-largest city in Australia. It's incredible venues and thriving arts scene has earned it the title of Australia's "cultural capital". And with good reason!

Luckily for Melbournites, there are a wide variety of opportunities to see both classical and cutting-edge dance performances and events. There are also opportunities to learn dance all over the city, with a dizzying number of classes and workshops available for both children and adults. Whether you're a total beginner or an experienced dancer, passionate about classical ballet, tango, hip-hop, swing, tap, jazz or contemporary dance, there is a class in Melbourne for you.

Dance lessons in Melbourne
Take dance classes in beautiful Melbourne!

The benefits to joining a dance class are endless - the more energetic genres will give you a great cardio workout, you'll build muscle mass and improve your posture and coordination in only a handful of lessons, then wind down with some gentle stretching.

Dance is also a great hobby for those new to the city or wishing to meet new friends - especially if you enrol in partner dance like swing, ballroom, tango or salsa. But any dance class will have you committing to a weekly practise you're passionate about alongside like-minded, creative people.

In this article, we'll explore a few of the ways you can get involved with dance lessons, workshops, masterclasses and courses in the beautiful city of Melbourne.

From Classical Ballet to Cutting-Edge Contemporary - Classes and Workshops with Melbourne's Dance Companies

Melbourne is the home of the prestigious Australian Ballet, who programme performances throughout the year at the Arts Centre in Southbank. Melbourne's ballet lovers are spoiled for choice, as Melbourne is also the home base for 3 other major ballet companies: Melbourne Ballet Company, Melbourne City Ballet and the Victorian State Ballet.

The Australian Ballet also has its own school, which offers full-time training for aspiring elite ballet dancers, or an after school program for young dancers. These elite programs require you to audition, but there are also Open Classes aimed at amateur/hobbyist ballerinas.

What are ballet slippers?
Make sure you have the right equipment for your ballet lessons.

If modern dance is more your thing, Melbourne also boasts a vibrant contemporary dance scene, including independent dance organisations Chunky Move and Dancehouse. They both program performances throughout the year and partner with arts festivals to put on cutting-edge work. Whatever your dance level, attending performances by these programs is sure to be inspiring.

But you don't have to be a professional dancer to benefit from their programs - these two organisations prioritise diversity and community accessibility and work to make high-quality dance lessons dance accessible to the general public. If you check out their websites, you'll find something for everyone...

1. Experienced dancers or choreographers can apply for their artist development and research programs, or artist residencies

2. Intermediate dancers may like to sign up to Chunky Move's "open" classes in contemporary, ballet and hip-hop through their AM:PM program or Dancehouse's public classes and workshops.

3. Beginner dancers should check out Chunky Move's "total beginner" programs, again in contemporary, ballet and hip-hop

4. Teachers or parents can contact Chunky Move to program dance workshops for students at your school!

Dancing With Melbourne's Private Dance Schools

Dance schools are offering a dizzying variety of dance styles in every Melbourne suburb. In fact, you may be overwhelmed by the choices out there and unsure of where to start.

Isaiah McClean
If you're a couple wanting to dance together, look into studios offering tango, salsa or bachata. Source: Isaiah McClean

If you're a beginner struggling to choose between dance styles, you may like to think about:

  • Your physical abilities - would you prefer a gentler or more physically intense form of dance?
  • Your goals - do you want to pursue a career in dance or creative performance, or simply sign up for a fun, social, weekly class?
  • Your social life - is dance something you want to do with a partner or solo?
  • What kind of music you love - if you love Broadway numbers, then jazz dance or tap might be for you!
  • Your previous experience - loved ballet as a child and want to take it up again? Now is your chance!

Once you've decided on a style of dance that is right for you, you'll need to sort out your outfit! As a rule of thumb, you should wear stretchy, comfortable clothes that you can break a sweat in. Unitards and leggings are welcome, but generally not necessary unless specified otherwise by the course description. Make sure you read the requirements on the studio's website before showing up to your first class!

Depending on the style of dance you're doing, you'll also need to look into footwear - pointe shoes for ballet, tap shoes for tap or heeled shoes for ballroom or jazz/broadway. Try starting with a class that doesn't require a lot of investment in new kit, so you can find out if you like it before committing to a full set of new dance equipment.

Some more things to consider when narrowing down the right dance classes for you:

  • Your location - there is nothing worse than being stuck in traffic trying to cross the city for a dance class! You're more likely to stay committed and motivated if the place is just around the corner!
  • Your friends - is there a kind of dance that you and your friends might all like to do together?
  • The price - different studios will set different prices depending on the level of the students and experience of the teacher - more on how to save money on dance classes in Melbourne later on...
  • The commitment - is there a dance studio near you that allows "try before you buy" trial classes? Do you need to commit to only one month of classes, or a whole term?

Once you've learnt a few moves, you can strut your stuff at one of Melbourne's many amazing venues. For example, if Latin dances such as salsa or bachata are your thing, you may like to take classes on Sunday nights at The Night Cat in Fitzroy and then stay on after to practice in a fun, social setting. Salsa is a great dance for couples looking to take up a shared hobby, but if you don't have a partner - no stress! Classes are structured so that you'll be paired with someone new - a great way to meet new people!

If you love pop music and are looking for a more short-term commitment, you could also book into Cult Dance in Brunswick. Over a period of 4-8 weeks, you'll join other passionate pop fans each week in learning a choreographed group routine to the like of Rihanna and Britney. No previous experience required - Cult Dance offers classes at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. They even have a mums and bubs class for mums who want to feel like Beyonce!

Community Dance Classes And Dance Fitness

If you're a beginner wanting to get your body moving and dip your toe into the world of dance without spending too much money upfront, dance classes at your local community centre might be the way to go.

Dance schools
Get your kids motivated to move with fun community dance classes.

Some benefits to community dance classes:

  • They're local - no need to haul across town to get your dance fix!
  • They're often cheaper - since the classes are often using free public facilities or are sometimes subsidized by the local council, you'll often pay only $2-$10 per class instead of the usual $15-$25
  • They offer a range of classes for beginners, as well as special groups such as children, mums with babies, older folks or folks with disability
  • They're social - community dance classes are all about bringing the community together! You can meet local people in your community through your shared love of dance fitness, Zumba, tango, cha-cha, ballroom, etc.

Another great way to save money is to take dance classes through your gym. These will usually have a fitness focus, such as Ballet Barre or Zumba.

Good to know: if you already have a gym membership, chances are you can attend gym dances classes for free.

Check online to see what kind of dance classes are offered by your local gym!

Hiring A Private Dance Instructor In Melbourne

Whilst group dance classes are the norm, if you truly want to take your dance to the next level, you may wish to hire a private dance instructor for one-on-one attention.

Picking up a new dance style as an adult can be daunting - if you want to gain confidence in a private one-on-one environment, the private guidance of a dance instructor will help you gain confidence.

One-on-one classes will always be much more expensive than a group class, but your investment will soon pay off - you'll improve in leaps and bounds and grow your confidence on the dance floor.

Many of these instructors will come to you, or you can book in for one-on-one classes through your local dance studio.

One hour of private tuition with a private dance instructor through Superprof will cost $35 on average, and there is a huge range of styles available, from ballet and jazz to Indian classical dance and Bellydance!

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Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.