The past year has seen a huge rise in the popularity of online exercise classes. With most of us spending more time at home, we’ve had to think of new ways to stay fit – and online dance classes have been some of the most popular. Whether you’re lucky enough to have natural rhythm or not, there’s no denying that dancing has a whole host of health benefits: not only is it a great form of cardio, and an enjoyable way to burn lots of calories (up to 800 per hour!), but it also improves muscle tone and helps build strength and balance. Plus, dance is very beneficial for mental health, and can be a powerful way to boost both mood and confidence.
The great thing about dance is how versatile it is. Just like music, there’s something for everyone – whether you want to learn ballet or tango or tap, simply want to rock around your living room by yourself, or try out a variety of online dance classes.
If you’re interested in checking out some online dance classes, it can be tricky to know where to start, as there are so many to choose from. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 11 online dance classes for beginners – and to make it even better, trying them out won’t cost a penny.
1. The Royal Academy of Dance - Ballet dance classes
Ever since lockdown began, The Royal Academy of Dance has been releasing free online dance classes on their YouTube channel. If you’ve always been interested in ballet, this is one of the best places to start learning – check out their ballet for beginners series to find out more.
Though the Royal Academy of Dance might be best known for ballet, they also offer plenty of other dance classes too, from street dance to American smooth, so why not have a browse of their YouTube channel and see if any videos take your fancy? Have a watch of the video below to get an insight into what their ballet lessons for adults look like.
2. Passion4Dancing - Ballroom dance classes
If you’re into ballroom style dancing, then why not head over to the Passion4Dancing’s YouTube channel? If you’re sharing your home with a family member who’s a ready and willing dance partner, there are plenty of two-people dance tutorials that you can learn together – from salsa to swing, and foxtrot to waltz. However, if you live by yourself, there are lots of solo dance tutorials too, so this is your chance to get some practice in before in-person dance classes and parties resume!
Instructor Leon Turetsky is extremely skilled and knowledgeable – so if you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between East Coast and West Coast swing, and which you might prefer, this is where to find out. As an instructor, Turetsky is really enthusiastic and his lessons are always enjoyable. Have a watch of his beginner’s guide to salsa to get an idea.
3. Kukuwa Fitness - African dance workouts
If you’re looking to work out muscles you didn’t even know you had, you may want to head over to the Kukuwa Fitness YouTube Channel. A world-renowned dancer and choreographer, Kukuwa Kyereboah-Nuamah is also a Professor of African Dance and Culture, and her dance videos provide you with “an education and a journey”, as well as seriously enjoyable and energetic workout. As Kukukwa’s website puts it, these dance workouts are a chance to explore Africa without a passport, as well as pump fun through your veins and burn plenty of calories.
The dance moves themselves are easy to follow, and will have you working your arms, waist, legs, and hips while dancing to beats from Malawi, Mali, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Nigeria. Kukuwa sometimes throws in the occasional squat, punch, or kick to make things a little more challenging, and because each workout varies in length, you can choose which class to dance along to depending on how energetic you feel.
As well as featuring warm-ups and cool-downs, each video provides information on the moves, history, and culture of the music you’re dancing to, making these classes just as informative as they are enjoyable. Have a watch of Kukuawa’s most popular video below to see why these classes have gone viral during lockdown.
4. Brand Fitness - Walking dance workouts
If you’re looking for a low-impact dance class that will still boost your fitness – and is lots of fun – you may want to check out Brand Fitness with Marion Brand. As a personal trainer, Marion Brand specialises in fitness over 50, and her YouTube channel has all manner of exercise videos, from kettlebell workouts to Latin dance cardio workouts.
If you’re new to dance, or have only just started trying to exercise more, you might want to start off with one of the walking dance workouts. Combining walking with dancing isn’t only a low-impact way to get used to dancing – it’s also a really fun way to increase your daily step count – just make sure you’re wearing your activity tracker! Have a watch of the video below to see how you can combine dancing to Latin pop with walking – and if Latin music isn’t for you, why not try a country walking dance workout, or the 80s pop dance workout below?
5. Sadler’s Wells - Modern dance workshops
Known as London’s home of dance, Sadler’s Wells is one of the world leaders in contemporary dance. In normal times, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre brings every style of modern dance to audiences – from Bollywood to hip-hop to flamenco – and they’re currently offering free online dance workshops. Each Wednesday a new workshop is released, which keeps things fresh and exciting – and because many of the workshops are specifically aimed at kids, families and people over 60, they’re ideal for those of us who have little dance experience.
The diversity of the Sadler’s Wells online dance classes is a great selling point, so if you’re just keen to dance and aren’t certain which genre you’d like to try, checking out the Sadler’s Wells YouTube channel may be a good place to start. You can try innovative new dance styles like locking (a type of funk dance), have a go at mastering some old school hip-hop moves, or try a creative style of dance that you’ve never even heard of before. Just check out the video below to see how innovative some of the movements are.
6. City Academy - Classes from all dance genres
City Academy is one of London’s best known creative classes and performing arts academies, and the good news is that they’re currently offering an incredibly wide range of virtual dance classes. There really is something for everyone here, whatever genre of dance you’re into, and whatever experience level you are. From beginners street dance to salsa and tango classes, and even more niche genres of dance, like burlesque, you’ll hopefully find something to pique your interest here.
City Academy offers a variety of free, pay-as-you-go and subscription courses, where you can have one lesson a week for a certain length of time, so you can always try out the free classes first – then, if you enjoy the style of teaching and are keen to try more advanced classes, you can try out some of the paid courses too. Have a look at some of the City Academy online dance classes here.
7. Central YMCA - Zumba dance classes
If you love the sound of Latin music, particularly salsa and reggaeton, then you might want to give Zumba a try. Zumba is a dance workout that’s great for weight loss and tones your entire body – and because it’s set to such upbeat music, you may find you can’t stop smiling while you’re dancing! Central YMCA is a leading education and wellbeing charity, and throughout the past year they’ve been releasing dance and workout videos on their YouTube channel.
The Central YMCA Zumba instructor is Declan Duncan, and his enthusiasm and positivity is infectious – just have a watch of the video below! There are plenty of Zumba dance videos on Central YMCA’s YouTube channel, and if you’re brand new to this style of dancing, it’s a great entry point. There’s a good chance you’ll be a convert after only one video!
8. SHINE Dance Fitness Express - Dance workouts rooted in ballet, jazz and hip-hop
If you’re looking for an energetic dance class with plenty of variety, then SHINE Dance Fitness might be for you. Combining ballet with jazz and hip-hop, this free course pairs simple dance movements with high-energy music, so to get the most out of this class it’s good to have an intermediate fitness level (though most of the movements can be adapted to keep the dancing low-impact).
While this class itself is free, others come at a price: subscription is around £8 a month, but you can do a weekly trial to see if these classes are for you – plus, there are a whole host of free dance videos you can enjoy on SHINE’s YouTube channel. All the classes are taught by certified dance instructors and are a great way to learn a variety of dance genres while also boosting your fitness. Have a watch of the video below to get more of an idea of what Shine Dance Fitness Express classes look like.
9. Oti Mabuse - A whole range of fun dance classes
If you’re a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, you may already be familiar with Oti Mabuse – and this Latin American dance champion offers a whole range of fun dance videos on her YouTube channel. If you’re interested in learning ballroom dancing and have a dance partner on hand, check out Oti’s videos with her husband Marius Leupure, where they show you how to master the tango, samba and Viennese waltz – to name just three.
If you don’t have a willing dance partner, there are plenty of other dance classes you can enjoy independently – for example, if you’re a Cher fan, you might like to learn how to dance to Cher’s iconic Do You Believe; or alternatively, you might be interested in learning a Beyonce dance routine – check out the video below to get started.
10. Ryan Heffington - Fully choreographed dance routines
What about if you’re interested in learning fully choreographed dance routines that encompass a variety of different styles and moves, rather than focusing on a specific genre of dance? If you’re interested in choreography, Ryan Heffington might be the man for you. Heffington is one of the world’s top choreographers, responsible for Sia’s famous Chandelier music video, as well as the popular Netflix dance show The OA, and he’s currently offering free Instagram live classes.
There’s no pressure to master any of the slick moves here – the focus is all about having fun and letting go – but being able to impress your friends and family when you next hit the dance floor is an added bonus. You can check out past dance classes on Heffington’s IGTV, and if you’re interested in joining the next live class, give him a follow to find out when that’ll be. All these classes are absolutely free, although you’re able to donate if you’d like to.
11. Creative Dance London
If you’re interested in engaging in a style of dance that allows you to get creative, and explore how you can use certain themes to move your body in different ways, then it’s worth checking out Creative Dance London’s free online classes.
To take an example of how they use themes to explore different dance styles, it’s worth having a look at this video here, which is based on the theme of ‘opposition’. In this video, a dance instructor encourages you to move one side of your body in a particular way – say by making circular arm movements – and to respond to those movements in an opposing way with the other side of your body. This could mean making straight chopping movements with your other arm. The idea of these classes isn’t to learn perfect routines, but to simply enjoy moving your body in a way that feels good to you – making it very interpretive.
Creative Dance London regularly advertise online dance class series on their website, which are run via Zoom. Or, if you’re interested in taking part in dance classes whenever suits you, then you can head over to their YouTube channel; where you can try lots of bitesize dance tutorials – such as the muddy movements exercise below.
Learning to dance is a great way to keep fit, try out a new hobby, and let go of any stress. Though times may still be tricky right now, dance has a powerful impact on boosting your mood, and whatever genre you try, you’ll hopefully find that at the end of a class you’ll be feeling more positive.
We may have a little while to go before we can participate in in-person dance classes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin our dancing adventures from the comfort of our home. Even though these classes are virtual, they’re still great ways to connect with like-minded people – and showing off your new moves once lockdown is over is just another thing to look forward to.
Have you tried out any online dance classes recently – or are you inspired by any of our suggestions? We’d love to hear about your virtual dance experiences! Leave us a comment below or join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum.