Chances are good you found this page cause you Google’d “hip hop dance classes San Francisco” and if so HELLLOOOOOOO. When I started dancing 8+ years ago I did the same exact thing and found NOTHING. So you lucky duck, I’ve done all the research for you. Below are all the hip hop classes I’ve taken in the Bay Area with descriptions of what their classes are like and links to videos. I’ll be updating throughout 2016 with new classes I’ve found and updates as I hear them.
Never danced before?
Or are you a super awesome dancer but don’t know what the hip hop dance scene is like?
This page is for you.
For the newbie:
For sure you’re going to be embarrassed.
You’re going to be intimidated.
You’re going to feel completely and totally moronic.
Because that means you can only improve from this day forward.
For the seasoned dancer:
Ok so you’ve danced at Movement Lifestyle, you’ve probably copied the dancers who post at Urban Dance Camp, and you know a Kinja. You’re awesome. Can I follow you because frankly I’m gonna learn so much from you. The intermediate/advanced list of teachers are probably of most interest to you and trust me, they’re all great and I’ve learned so much from them. Take their class, become friends with them, and you’ll be rewarded with connections to some of the most awesome workshops and dance opportunities that this city offers. They know when Yanis teaches in the SF. They know about secret hip hop videos shooting in SF that need cool dancers.
4 Things You Need to Know about Taking Dance Classes
1. The Bay Area is the best goddamn place to learn hip hop dance. Of course this is an opinion of a 42 year old woman who does not go clubbing and prefers to be in bed by 7pm so she can watch yet another Parks and Rec episode … so you decide if you want to believe me. I’ve taken classes in Los Angeles, New York, London, Austin and Boulder so I feel I have a somewhat educated opinion about this.
The Bay Area has classes for every level. From Oakland to the Citys to the South Bay, you have options. And when you go to the classes the egos are very levelheaded. Sure there will be some confident fierceness in the room, but it’s NOTHING compared to what you’ll endure in NY and LA. I took a class at NY Broadway Dance Center and realized very quickly everyone was practicing for a hip hop video and I didn’t get the memo.
2. Yes you’re going to suck the first time. And you will probably look even worse on your fifth try. And that’s ok. It took me a year to do a grapevine where it didn’t look I had a stick up my butt. But give it time, practice some more, and you will soon be able to nail just one of Beyonce’s moves.
3. If you don’t like a particular teacher’s style, go find someone else. DO NOT GIVE UP. There are a plethora of amazing dancers in this city and you have your pick of femme, butch, fierce, smooth, tough, and joyful styles to choose from. I’ve tried out alot of dance classes, trust me. There’s a style of movement that you’re going to love, just go find it.
4. No one is looking at you.
This was the hardest for me to understand. The only person everyone is looking at is the teacher. Not you. If they are looking at you chances are good it’s because YOU ARE NAILING IT and they are trying to copy you.
I know. It’s intimidating to be in a class where everyone seems to know the moves. Chances are good they learned the choreography the day before. Or they’re one of those blessed young folk who can just pick up a routine in seconds. I am not one of those people. It takes time for me to learn a teacher’s style and moves. And the only way you’re going to learn is to get up in the FRONT (yes the front) and practice. Don’t worry about the other students. They’re trying to nail the moves and they are NOT LOOKING AT YOU.
So where do I recommend you go for class?
Below is a list of all the classes I’ve taken in the Bay Area so far or plan to.
Important note about all these classes: the majority that I’ve detailed below are not “workout classes.” Choreography is taught and sometimes this can be overwhelming if a teacher decides to teach 16 eight counts…but don’t worry. You’ll get it. Just take absolute beginning classes then move up when you feel comfortable or when you want a challenge.
I’ve categorized the teachers in the levels that I think they really teach. They may say they’re beginner in their class description….I respectfully disagree. So just know the levels I’ve set them are my opinion. You may think differently, that’s cool. Go write your own damn blog and tell people that. We need more writers talking about dance.
The City – SF
INTERMEDIATE – ADVANCED
Funks First Sundays + Funkanometry SF Weekly Advanced Company Class
So now you know where to go. SO GO. And if you see me there, say hi. Maybe we can be dance buddies?
THE CITY – SF
I tried out Allie’s Cardio Dance class and it’s PERFECT for absolute beginners. I know you’re thinking “Cardio dance? Isn’t that just aerobics?” No. It is cardio for sure but she throws in enough simple choreography to make it dance-y. And if you’re absolute beginner you need simple choreography repeated many times. How else you going to learn a pas de bourrée that ends with a bootie pop unless you do it over and over again?
Allie has a really positive teaching style. She really wants students to learn the moves and have a good time. Very good absolute beginner class.
Briana is a young and energetic teacher. You will be SWEATING HARD in this class. She’s wonderful. I’ve taken several Saturday workshops with her and they’ve been consistently awesome.
Carol Johnstone’s Beyoncé and Britney Inspired Classes
Loving the choreography from Beyoncé and Britney videos? Well you’re in luck cause Carol hosts loads of classes that teach you the specific routine from Beyoncé and Britney videos. Do you know hard it is to learn choregraphy from Youtube videos? It’s really hard. You have to slow the video down, then you have to translate in your brain how to do the moves backwards because the videos are shot from the front. You’re lucky. Carol has amazing teachers who walk you step by step through these moves and sometimes she even gets Beyonce’s ACTUAL CHOREOGRAPHER to teach. So follow her Facebook or her PopStar Booty Camp page and sign up for her workshops. From my analysis she sets up some really amazing dance experiences.
FYI, she started a bunch of workshops where they teach Justin Bieber’s Sorry choreography.
This class will very likely be filled with the cutest leggings and bootie shorts you’ve ever seen. D’arcy teaches the sexiest, cutest moves in an environment that is positive and joyful. He’s got a strong following of students so you get the vibe that most of the people in the room have been taking class with D’arcy for a while. And after you take his class you totally understand why. He’s more jazz hip hop. But do go. He’s fun.
Shereen Prince at ODC
If you are a beginner and have never done hip hop before I highly recommend you start with Shereen Prince at ODC. She was MY FIRST hip hop dance teacher and I’m so grateful I started with her.
This is for completely new hip hop dancers. Shereen is lovely. She’s approachable, she’s got good beginner choreography, and there are no egos in this class. It is not intimidating. It’s just fine. Class size is around 30-40.
She is more old school style. Not too femme. Not too butch.
ODC is clean, beautiful, has nearby relatively cheap parking lot. Kind of sketchy neighborhood but nothing too horrible.
I met Yue while we were dancing for 2+ hours at the 2015 SF Pride Parade. I don’t know if you’ve ever danced the whole stretch of a pride parade but if you do, you definitely bond with the people you’re dancing with. Yes it’s a lot of fun and we’re having a good time but it’s TOUGH. I remember looking over at Yue by the end and we were both like “OH MY GOD I’M DEAD TIRED.” But while I looked like a dehydrated wet rat, Yue looked glorious. Not surprising. She’s a very energetic and positive dancer and she teaches regularly in the city. Very simple moves but you will be sweating hard. Good for your absolute beginner. She posts dance videos online and you can take her classes in the city.
David Schrag at Dance Mission
Dance Mission is a gritty dance space, cracky neighborhood where people have gotten shot, but hey it’s the Mission! Medium studio. Can be crowded. He’s a really tall dude. He’s handsome (well… this is important information). Butch old school style. But totally fun and David is very nice and approachable. He’s a bit harder than Shereen but his style and his positivity is fantastic. That makes you wanna try harder.
Lots of dudes take his class. You’ll notice as you take more dance that doesn’t happen very often.
The cool thing about having dance friends is they tell you about classes you’ve never heard of. My friend Louise told me about Ed and I was like “Is he really worth coming to the city on a Wednesday at 9:30am?” And honestly the answer is yes. YASSSSSSSSS. I wish Ed would teach more days and hours but we get what we get. Ed is hilarious. I always leave his class smiling. Great teacher and fabulous dancer. The class is very inspiring and you will be surrounded by beautiful, gorgeous men. This is one of the few dance studios I’ve been in where the majority are men.
I’ve taken Jocquese’s Vogue & Tone Technique and Vogue Choreography class on Thursday nights at ODC and oh HONEY you gonna LOOOOOOVE it. I’ve dabbled in Vogue like most of us have: Watching Madonna’s video and trying to strike a pose as fierce as her dancers. Well there’s so much more to it. And Jocquese will show you the way. Technique is an hour of very precise arm and hand movements as you glide across the floor. It’s not easy. And your arms will feel DEAD the next day. But you won’t care because all you want to do is nail the moves as well as Jocquese.
Micaya is a staple of the Bay Area Hip Hop dance scene because she’s so positive and lovely and gritty. She does both femme and butch style. Old school and more contemporary moves. Her TAs are all young twenty-somethings so they bring a lot of new choreography to her moves.
Very popular. Saturday classes at ODC are super packed. No egos. Micaya is over 50. But she sure as hell doesn’t look it and can dance a 20 year old under the table no problem. Dance Mission Thursday classes are also packed. No egos there as well but you will bump into people. And that’s ok. Cause everyone is a beginner.
I did a performance workshop with Micaya. Really fantastic experience. You meet wonderful dancers and you perform in front of a crowd several times.
When I heard there was a Don’t Worry, Be Yoncé Inspired Dance Class in San Francisco I was like WHERE CAN I THROW MY MONEY. When I realized the class is taught by a Golden State Warrior cheerleader I was like SERIOUSLY WHERE CAN I THROW MY MONEY. I’ve taken her class multiple times and it’s a fantastic experience. You’re taught some basic moves that are sexy and fierce plus Shonna throws in a little bit of feminist rhetoric that I particularly enjoy on Saturday mornings. For example: You always have your head up when you walk, would Beyoncé put her head down? No. Neither should you. Whenever a friend who’s never really danced before asks where should they go first, I tell them about Shonna’s class. Because after you take Shonna’s class you want to learn MORE!
BEGINNER – INTERMEDIATE
I know Allan calls his Dance Mission class Beginner. But it ain’t beginner. I’ve been dancing hip hop for 4+ years and finally on 9/6/2014 I completed a whole class without stopping. His style is not easy. But when you get it, HONEY YOU GONNA LOOOOOOOOVE IT!!!
Medium studio. Packed. You will bump into people. He might make you drop to the floor on your knees.
Allan is a big guy. But he can spin and drop it like he’s a 95 pound ballet dancer. He’s competed in So You Think You Can Dance.
His TA’s are great dancers. The classes are CROWDED. But that’s because he’s amazing. If you stick with his class you will get it. And you will be a better dancer because of it.
I first met Alli in Alec’s class and from the first moment I saw her dance I was like, WHOA this girl has danced in LA. I don’t know what it is but the dancers from LA add just a touch more oomph in all their moves. Probably because they’re dancing at Millennium, Movement Lifestyle or Studio V and know they are being recorded. Well you lucky ducks, Alli is here and she teaches a weekly class at Rae (a super fantastic intimate studio). You will be flipping your hair around. You will learn how to be a hot beast. Thanks to Alli’s fantastic choreo.
His routines are amazing, fast, and flowy. He’s one of my favorite teachers in the Bay Area.
When I first started taking his class in 2012 I was so awkward with his style. It’s very different from everyone else. It took a while for me to get it but now I understand it and it’s glorious. He’s passionate about his choreography, he’s a really patient teacher, and he’s just a lovely person overall.
Check out his website as he teaches all over the Bay Area.
Emerson Aquino – City Dance
If you think you’re a decent dancer in the club and watch America’s Best Dance Crew and think “hey I could do a little bit of that” then you should try Emerson at City Dance.
Big studio. Lots of room. But can get crowded
City Dance has a parking lot right in front of their studio. It’s in cracky town. Take advantage of the free parking in front of the studio. If you do plan on walking here just don’t have your iPhone out. Be aware of what’s around you.
Emerson is the Executive Artistic Director and Co-Founder of the Funkanometry SF Dance Company. He’s Filipino. He’s a snappy dresser. And most important he’s a lovely teacher. He can do butch and femme. But honestly his femme is the best. I learned how to strut like a proper girl because of him. He likes spins. He likes fast moves. It is not easy the first time around. But stick with him and you’ll enjoy the hell out of his class.
Going to City Dance will feel like you are in high school with a ton of Asians who all have the best sneakers, best headphones, and best hair. But everyone is overall very nice and Emerson’s routines are so much fun.
The first time I saw Feliciano dance was in Emerson’s beginning hip hop class. Good GOD is he good. He infuses his moves with such power and sexuality, yeah….it’s fantastic. You want to learn from this man. He recently returned from a very intense Paris dance fellowship where he trained in the same studio as Yanis…so us mere mortals here in the Bay Area benefit from his experience. Great teacher. Breaks steps down carefully and you repeat alot. You will come away from his class sore but inspired.
Jessica Rae at RAE Studios
Beautiful and bright studio. It’s small but good lord do they pack in some awesomeness in this place. When you come out of the elevator you’ll see the RAE Model and Talent Agency sign and you’ll wonder if you went to the wrong place. But nope, that’s it.
I’m kind of amazed by Jessica’s energy. Not only does she teach fantastic hair whipping classes, but she’s the owner and CEO of Rae Agency and Rae Studios. So not only is she an amazing dancer + teacher but she’s running a business getting dancers jobs in the industry. She is ALWAYS busy. I do not know how she does it all while also looking flawless every damn time.
Jessica’s classes will leave you red-faced and exhausted. She does a good warmup, your heart rate will be up up up the whole time during class, and you’ll leave feeling tired but joyful.
They have loads of other fantastic classes at this location (Alli and Feliciano teach here). I like it because it’s very close to pizza. Which you will want to eat after you’ve done a class at RAE.
I love Jessica’s style. Her choreography has a lot of big expressive movements, lots based in voguing, and alot of freestyling. Both which I SUCK at. But that’s why you take class. To learn from people who do these sorts of things well. And good god does Jessica do these moves well. You will learn alot about technique and being in the moment. She will push you through mental boundaries and sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes you feel really dorky but just embrace it. It’s good for you.
I heard about Kyle from my fantastic friend Madisyn. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make friends with other dance friends, especially the ones who are better than you. They know where all the best classes are and can point you to awesomeness that you had no idea existed. Without Madisyn, I would have never taken Kyle’s class and that would have been SAAAAAAD.
Kyle’s style has a contemporary vibe to it, which makes sense cause he teaches contemporary. His choreography really wants you to do big expressive movements, let every action be as big and open as possible. It’s glorious!!! His choreography makes you feel empowered and strong and I absolutely will be taking more of his classes this year.
He’s teaching an Absolute Beginner Hip Hop Workshop starting on January 10. And he teaches regularly at City Dance.
Wanna dance in heels? Then you want to take Marqui’s class. Her style is sultry, sexy, and powerful. I’ve only taken her class wearing sneakers because my weak old body can’t handle heels. But it’s guaranteed good times and you will be amazed at what you can do in heels.
I’ve been taking Rocko’s class for several years now and I am always amazed at the artistry of his moves. True he will make you bounce and whip around like Beyonce but his choreography has such dark poetry to it, I JUST LOVE EMBODYING WHATEVER HE THROWS AT ME. He does teach an absolute beginner class and I would highly recommend you take that before you take his beginner or intermediate level. Meow meow. You will love him.
Also, he runs SF Flash Mob. I’ve done so many flash mobs with this group and trust me, it’s great. The people who join are wonderful and the choreography is fantastic. That’s critical when you’re purposely going out to public spaces and dancing in front of strangers. If you want to see what a typical SF Flash Mob experience is like, watch this or this. Classes are free.
My favorite teacher in the Bay Area is D Montalvo at Lines Dance Center.
Lines Dance Center is in a real cracky area. You must pay attention when you walk in this area. Don’t talk on your iPhone. Be aware. People get mugged here all the time.
D calls his class Advanced Beginner and that is accurate. It is NOT easy. It took me around 15+ classes to get his routines down.
He’s really sweet and lovely. He is a professional dancer and performs regularly thus his routines are very different from everyone else in the Bay Area. You will start off with a 30 minute warm up that will hurt. THEN you start the choreography. He will make you run through the choreography 10+ times at the end. You will want to eat a huge burrito after his class.
75 percent of the class are women. Professional dancers take his class “just for fun.” So you WILL feel stupid because everyone else dances 40+ hours a week. But when you nail one move perfectly for just a second, you feel great 🙂
Funks First Sundays + Funkanometry SF Weekly Advanced Company Class
Every Sunday throughout the year this group brings in some AMAZING dancers from around the world to teach a 90 minute workshop. Classes are typically packed but it’s worth it. If you can’t make it in person, most of the time their sessions are professionally video recorded and you purchase a subscription through City Dance Live.
I have combed through the Peninsula and honestly there aren’t that many dance studios that are as fun as the City. Hopefully this will change but I just haven’t found them. I feel that the Peninsula is more focused on competition teams and thus old ladies like me aren’t really allowed:( But here are the ones I’d recommend.
In my constant search of hip hop dance classes in the Peninsula I found Angeline. She was with Funkanometry which only means one thing = she’s good.
Really fantastic beginning class. Clear warm up, very open atmostphere, and very easy to understand choreography. If you’ve never done hip hop before, this is a good class for you. Clearly Angeline is talented, oh my god so talented. But she breaks things down very simply and will work through moves with you till you feel a bit more comfortable.
I’ve taken Body Beatz Live and and some of his master classes: both have left me completely red faced and dehydrated. You will work HARD in this class. The moves are simple and I can tell everyone picks up the moves pretty quickly, but it’s Lee’s energy that pushes you to jump higher, drop lower, and pop that bootie even bigger.
On January 2, he’s hosting a master class with Shane Sparks.
He teaches both in the City and the Peninsula
Why would anyone purposely wake up for an 8:15am class? When it’s taught by Mandy Bell or Lisa Navarro, YOU GO. The style is more jazz hip hop. So it’s definitely very different from the classes in the city. The crowd is older ladies (like me) from the Peninsula. I rarely see anyone under 20 in this class. Probably because it’s so damn early. But what’s great about this class is you go and knock out some moves, then spend the rest of the day eating. So …. what’s the problem?
The big challenge about this class is they easily teach around 16 eight counts in a single class. That’s alot of counts. But it’s alot of fun and they are really welcoming. Not an intimidating experience at all.
They also teach tap and contemporary. Haven’t done those but from what people tell me, it’s lovely. But for me, I can vouch for their cardio-pop and hip hop classes. Totally awesome. If you follow Lisa’s FB, you can get details of what songs they’ll be teaching during the week.
Matt Adams – Dance Sweat Smile
I learned about Matt when he taught at Uforia Studios. Now he’s branched out and is doing his own thing. It’s more cardio dance, so not a lot of difficult choreography. Everyone is really happy in his class and Matt’s energy and positivity is infectious.
When I realized that I live in the same town as the Academy of Villain’s home studio I was OH SO HAPPY. Who’s AOV? Just the most amazing hip hop dance company around. Owners and founders Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenix” Meraz created this space for amazing dancers to really push boundaries. And they’ve done it. This studio reeks of amazing hip hop dance awesomeness. I’ve been to both their Redwood City and LA studios and I love everything they do.
I would say the level of the classes are more intermediate/advanced. The teachers are in AOV company and this is a WORKING company. They perform all over the world, they are constantly hustling. So sometimes the teachers that are listed are subbed. Sometimes when you think it’s going to be intermediate it’s more beginner because the group of students involved are more beginner. And it’s also the other way around too, sometimes you think it’s going to be beginner, turns out it’s more advanced.
The thing is I’m ok with this because AOV are really amazing artists. So if I get to learn how to do dead drops and freestyling from one of their dancers I’m happy.
The Get Down
When Amber announced that he was teaching Hip Hop and K-Pop at a new studio in the South Bay I was like WHAAAAAA???!!! Don’t get me wrong, I love the city. The city is great. But sometimes a girl just wants easy parking, a plethora of Korean BBQ restaurants, boba cafes everywhere, and Amber choreography. And all of that is in the South Bay. I went to Amber’s first K-Pop class at The Get Down, a new studio in the Japantown section of San Jose. Parking was easy to find on Saturdays. The studio is very cute. One studio only, the floors are smooth and slick, and the bass is deep. They also teach waacking, house, salsa, toprock, dominican bachata, and DJing. I have a strong feeling I’m going to be coming here alot. Follow The Get Down’s FB and you’ll see updates of what’s to come.
The dance community is filled with lovely and generous people. I truly and honestly believe that. The way I found out about Groov3 was from a lovely lady (Gazelle S.) who allowed me to crash her dance birthday party with the amazing Sam Allen. I had never met Gazelle until her birthday. From that class, I learned about Groov3 with Susan Snyder and Kerry Ferrari. Fantastic teachers. Very good for beginners. They run through a routine slowly and you repeat the moves over and over again to a live DJ. How awesome is that? Susan and Kerry are the Groov3 gurus in the Bay Area and they teach several times each week. Follow Susan and Kerry’s FB accounts for latest updates, learn from them, they’re all sorts of awesome.
Oh and if you go a Groov3 class don’t be alarmed by the enormous amounts of photos they take. This group of dancers LOVES to photograph each other, video record each other, and pretty much cheer each other on as one drops it to the floor. I have never experienced such an inclusive and welcoming group of dance students in my life like this.
Montage Dance Productions
I’ve taken classes with Dani Galvez, Ijay Espinoza, and Lauren Hoskins. All good. These dancers are deep within the community which means they teach, they compete, they create all the time. They’re really lovely people.
They have a variety of levels from beginning to intermediate.
Monday Night Workshop
If you have the energy to take a class from 9-11pm on Monday nights, this is the place you wanna be. MNW brings in AH-MAH-ZING dancers to their workshops and you will love love love every second of it. I went to the Mariel Madrid workshop and it was PACKED but who cares? You learn from the most amazing dancers in the world.
It ain’t easy. IT IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS. Let me repeat that again. THIS IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS. I can barely keep up and I’ve been doing this for a while. But I keep trying and when they have day time workshops (which do host on a rare occasion) I go because old lady Elaine can barely stay awake past 9pm. You can watch videos of all the different dancers they’ve invited to MNW.
OAKLAND Chelsea Martin
The first time I saw Chelsea dance was in Allan Frias’ class and when I heard she was teaching, I was like WHERE, WHEN, TELL ME NOW. Note, I live in the Peninsula. I drove 2 hours to Oakland in traffic to take her morning class. Yes it’s worth it. If you live in the East Bay, follow her FB and take her class. She’s FANTASTIC.
In The Groove Dance Studio
If I lived in the East Bay, this is the studio that would be my second home. This place has some of the best dancers I’ve been lucky to learn form.
Darnell and Mario teach Cardio Hip Hop and you will love it even though you will be completely devastated by the end. So tiring.
Samantha Ethridge is now teaching beginning hip hop on Wednesday nights. She’s one of the nicest and most generous dancers I’ve been around. And her choreography style = awesome.