“Back in my day,” explained my teacher, “we would take four to five classes a day. But with your generation of dancers… you don’t seem to have that same drive.”
As much as I wanted to refute my teacher, I knowingly held my tongue. Alas, gone are the glorious days of six-dollar dance classes. But instead of making this excuse, I decided to prove my drive by figuring out how I could take more class without breaking the bank.
With both residential and commercial rent in Manhattan steadily skyrocketing, it was inevitable that the price of dance classes would bump up as well. New York City’s top dance studios offer classes hovering around $20. And for the hardworking student or struggling performer, that’s quite a pretty penny.
But don’t despair! Dance Informa has researched six different ways that you can take dance class without blowing your budget. Find out which option works best for you.
1) Make a plan.
Most of Manhattan’s premier dance studios offer drop-in classes rather than the recurring, binding schedule of a dance school. However, instead of paying for a single class for, say, $20, you can often purchase a class package of five, 10 or 20 classes at a slightly discounted rate. The expiration date to complete your classes will depend on the size of your class package—so be sure to plan out your schedule so you don’t waste any pre-paid classes.
2) Use what you’ve got.
Are you a member of a union? Perhaps AEA, AGVA, AGMA, SAG/AFTRA, CAEA or SDC? Present your union card when you check in for class and get a one or two-dollar discount. You worked hard to get in that union, so don’t miss out on the benefits!
3) Work for it.
Dance studios often offer work-study positions for diligent students. Whether checking in dancers at the front desk, answering phones, selling merchandise or cleaning during the night shift, work-study students receive significantly discounted dance classes in return for their weekly duties at the studio. Because the class rate is so affordable (usually around five dollars per class), work-study programs are usually highly competitive. If you can dedicate the extra time and energy to a work-study position, express your interest to your studio manager and fill out an application.
4) Talk to a mentor.
Teachers are usually able to “guest” a couple of students into their classes with the permission of the studio. If you have a dance teacher that you take class from several times a week, consider asking them if you can occasionally “guest” into their class. If your teacher cannot “guest” you in, chances are that they will help you find another way to pay for class.
5) Look beyond.
There are thousands of dance classes offered in New York City—and most are right under your nose. To save a few bucks, look beyond the “big name” studios for classes offered at “rent-a-room” studio spaces, local colleges and community arts facilities. You might be surprised to find some of your favorite teachers (in less-crowded classes) teaching at these locations.
6) Think teamwork.
Get together with a group of friends and trade off teaching a class each week. All you have to do is pitch in to pay for an hour or two’s worth of studio space (around $100 total). You’ll get to collaborate and challenge yourselves in a safe environment and you’ll also build teaching experience (i.e. leading a thorough warm-up, assisting students, creating choreography, etc.)