Where to learn hip hop dancing in the Bay Area – 2017

IMPORTANT: There is an updated 2018 version of this list here.


So you Google’d “hip hop dance classes San Francisco” and you found me. Hi. I’m Elaine. I’ve been taking hip hop dance classes for 10+ years and I honestly have been to every hip hop dance class in the Bay Area. If I haven’t, I’m going to. I’m not joking. As you review the list of classes below you’ll see, I’ve been to almost EVERY hip hop dance class in the Bay Area. Some would say I’m a little addicted, they would be right. If I hear a new teacher is teaching new moves to an old Beyonce tune, I’m so there.

Who is this list for?
This list is for everyone: from your beginner who has never even tried to do a body roll to your advanced dancer who has danced with Luam at BDNYC. My level varies between beginner/intermediate/advanced depending on how achy my 40+ year old body is feeling that day. So if you’re in your 20s who think it’s too late to learn, um no. You’re in great company because there are so many people in their 20s and early 30s in class. If you’re like me or older and think you’re too old for this, oh my people. Come to class, there are people in their 60s+ who are doing complicated house moves with perfect flair.

What class do you recommend?
People ask me this question alot and I always answer with another question: what do you like? Do you like ratchet style that’s really dirty? Or do you like intricate, robotic movements? Whatever style you like, it’s probably being taught in this city. This list details my experience and some information about each teacher that I think would be helpful. I’ve tried to explain which is butchy and femme. I also try to explain the level I think the class is geared towards. I’ve taken class in LA, New York, Denver, London, and Rome so I’ve got an educated opinion about the levels that teachers say they’re teaching. San Francisco tends to be pretty accurate about their description of their classes. (Unlike NY, when they say it’s beginner my god no. It’s not beginner. It’s totally intermediate or worse.)

Ok Elaine. You’ve told me a lot. But seriously, which class do you recommend?
If you’ve never taken a class with these teachers, read my review, and more importantly watch the video if I’ve provided a link. That’s the best way to figure out if you’re going to like the style the teacher is teaching. If you go to the class and find it’s not your thing, don’t worry. There’s ALOT of other classes that will likely fit your fancy.

But if you really want to follow exactly the teachers I took during my beginner years they are in this order: Shereen Prince, David Schrag, Micaya, Emerson Aquino, and Amber Divina.

ONE IMPORTANT DETAIL TO NOTE: I wrote this back in January 2017. Schedules changes. People move. So if you like someone below, check their schedule, see if they’re still around. The problem with good teachers is they get so good they move to LA or NY and next thing you know they’re on So You Think You Can Dance. I try to update where I can but I am only one person. I don’t get paid to post this list. There’s only so much one person can do.

It looks like all the students are crazy good and I know I suck. What class can I take where I won’t be embarrassed.
First thing you should know about class. NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU. Well if you’re super hot and the crop top you’ve decided to wear today is showing your 6-pack abs, yeah we’re looking at you. And damn you look good. Bravo. You clearly have been working hard… But going back to your worry about being embarrassed, do not worry. We are all taking class, we are all focused on ourselves, we’re all a bunch of narcissists staring at our image in the mirror and we’re so not looking at you. So take class, make mistakes, that’s what class is for. If you suck, you suck. Most of the time you won’t know anyone in class so who cares? I’ve taken class for 10+ years and I know I’ve sucked. In that whole time, no one has ever shamed me when it comes to dance. No one has ever given me a dirty look for failing to do a hair flip incorrectly. No one has laughed at me in a hurtful manner for twerking badly. You know what does happen in class? People scream YASSSSSS when they see you’re feeling the music. People walk up to you after class and tell you that you really inspired them with how joyfully you moved. People ask you out to boba and conversation about that ludicrous Rihanna choreography.

So put on those sweatpants, tie your sneakers, and get to class. The hip hop dance community is pretty awesome and if you spend a decent amount of time with these people you’re going to meet some great people and learn some pretty amazing things.

If you see me, say hi. Cause honestly I think the only person reading my blog is my mom. And it’s nice to know that this list helps a new man or woman to the joys of hairography.

 

The City – SF

ABSOLUTE BEGINNER
Briana Mitchell
Carol Johnstone’s Popstar Booty Camp
D’Arcy Drollinger
Lee Pazmino
Shereen Prince (NOTE: Shereen was my first hip hop dance teacher so if you wanna start like me, start with Shereen)
Yue Xu

BEGINNER
David Schrag
Jocquese Whitfield
Micaya
Roberto Hernandez
Shonna Chiles – Confidance Fitness

BEGINNER-INTERMEDIATE-ADVANCED
Allan Frias
Alli Fritz
Amber Divina
Emerson Aquino
Feliciano Ortiz
Jessica Rae
Kyle Limin
Leslie Panitchpakdi
Marqui Martinez
Rocko Luciano

 

Peninsula – South Bay

The Company – Westlake School for the Performing Arts – Intermediate – Advanced
The Get Down – Beginner – Intermediate
Groov3 – Beginner
Groovitude – Beginner/Intermediate

Montage Dance Productions – Beginner/Intermediate
Motion Arts Center – Beginner/Intermediate
On One Studios – Beginner-Advanced
Studio V – Beginner-Advanced
Uforia Studios – Beginner-Intermediate

 

Oakland

Flying Studios – Beginner through Advanced
Full Out Studios – Beginner through Advanced
In The Groove Studios – Beginner through Advanced
New Style Motherlode – Beginner through Advanced

 


Briana Mitchell
Uforia Studios has two studios. One in the city and the other in Palo Alto. Uforia is not your traditional dance studio. They’re kind of somewhere in between. Their teachers blur the line between fitness class and pure choreography and that’s PERFECT for absolute beginners. Briana teaches in both locations and you’re very lucky that she commutes and delivers awesomeness all along the Bay Area. So let’s say you woke up today and you’re like I really want to learn hip hop dance but I’m super intimidated and I also want to have a good time. Briana is the lady for you. Briana is super energetic. Like you are going to be DYING IN SWEAT after her 60 minute class. You will be taken through simple choreography that includes a generous amount of bootie popping and hair whipping.

The crowd is predominantly female. The level of beautiful yoga pants is off the charts in this studio.

  Watch a typical Briana Mitchell class

  Briana teaching schedule

  Location: Uforia 1561 California Street, San Francisco and 819 Ramona Street, Palo Alto

  When you’re looking at Uforia’s website make sure you’re looking at the right location. Make sure you click the Nob Hill or Palo Alto tab depending on which location you want.

 

Carol Johnstone’s Popstar Booty Camp
You probably have heard about Popstar Booty Camp because of the PBS Dance Like Beyonce piece or the huge Bieber Flash mob on the Embarcadero. No didn’t hear about it? That’s surprising because anyone who wasn’t a part of it were kicking themselves in the butt that they didn’t go to class.

Carol is this really lovely woman who loves Bey. Like really loves Bey. You can feel it when you talk to her, it’s something really important to her life. Carol commissions local dancers to teach the moves from actual Beyonce videos. If you’ve ever tried to learn how to dance from online videos you know it’s hard. It’s totally doable but there’s nothing like a teacher in front of you showing you how to drop it and smack it in the air. Currently IJay Espinoza has been the leader of all things Bey and he’s wonderful. He’ll teach you how to whip your hair around, how to drop the bootie lower for optimum bounce, and how to walk with the fierceness of a woman who slays both in the boardroom and the dance floor. Can a beginner student learn the moves of Bey? YASSSSSS honey. YASSSSSS.

  Watch a typical PopStar Booty Camp class

  PopStar Booty Camp schedule updates are posted on their FB page.

  Location: Different studios all over the Bay Area.

 


The first thing you’ll notice when you enter D’arcy’s class is color. Gold bootie shorts, rainbow colored leggings, bright yellow kitty kat t-shirts. D’Arcy’s class is not a muted experience, everyone is super off the charts technicolor and you realize very quickly this is going to be a damn good time. D’Arcy is an actor, writer, musician, director, choreographer, and thankfully a teacher at Sexitude. The man works ALOT. Practically every week he’s performing in a show along with teaching dance. I do not know how he does it. Especially because his dance moves are super high energy and involve a lot of twerking and chest pumps. You’ll be doing hip thrusts straight out Showgirls and you will love it and be screaming for more.

The students of Sexitude are passionate and loyal. I see the same students take his class year after year. The only thing that changes is the leggings and strategically torn tshirts. This is one of the few classes where the dudes actually take off their shirts completely. It’s hot. Literally and metaphorically.

  Watch a typical D’Arcy Drollinger class

  D’Arcy teaching schedule

  Location: Academy of Ballet
2121 Market Street

  Bring your own water bottle because they don’t sell water at the Academy of Ballet

  Academy of Ballet is right near the Church Muni Station

  In most (if not all) of D’Arcy’s warmups you will be doing the hip thrusts from Showgirls.

 

Lee Pazmino
I’ve only taken Lee’s class in the Peninsula so I don’t have personal experience of what it’s like to take his class in SF. But from the SF videos I’ve seen combined with my experience taking his Mountain View class, I’m pretty sure his SF classes are great. If anything, they have more room. Lee’s style is butch old school. You can see it in the way he dresses and how he carries himself. Yes he can still be femme and he can definitely teach you how to move your hips ever so hot, but he’s more B-boy than vogue. His choreography is simple and has alot of hard punches. And you rarely ever stop which means your heart rate is easily going to be above 160 for over 45 minutes.

Lee invites DJ’s to play during his classes which adds a nice intensity to each session. But it also means the music never pauses. You’re dancing from one song right into another and your heart is going to be boom boom booming the whole damn time.

  Watch a typical Lee Pazmino class

  Lee teaching schedule

  Location: Lee teaches at two studios. One in SF and one in Mountain View

 


I’ve taken class with Roberto for a while so I know he’s a brilliant dancer. Sometimes I don’t think he has bones because he’s able to move with such flexibility that seems impossible. He’s a great dancer and now he’s sharing his knowledge with the Bay Area. Roberto teaches a Global Cardio Tour class which is perfect for absolute beginners. He’ll take you through simple moves for sure to get your cardio up but he’ll throw in some more intricate moves for those that want more of a challenge. He’s high energy, incredibly positive, and very talented. You’ll have such a good time with Roberto.

  Watch a typical Roberto class

  Roberto Class Schedule

 


Shereen will always be in my heart because she is literally my first hip hop dance teacher. If you’ve never done hip hop dance before, she is absolutely the first person I think you should learn from. She teaches a true beginner class so she’s going to walk you through a grapevine, body rolls, and ticking. It is going to feel weird and unnatural, but Shereen is wonderful. Patient, kind, sweet, and such a good dancer.

Her style is more old school. Most of the students are beginners as well so the vibe is very welcoming and understanding when you bump into them.

  Watch a typical Shereen Prince class

  Shereen teaching schedule

  Location: ODC
351 Shotwell Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

  There used to be a parking lot, but since the studio is in the Mission…well you know what happens with empty lots in the mission. LET’S BUILD STUFF ON IT. So only street parking.

  7 minute walk from the 16th Street BART station

  If you search for videos of Shereen’s classes online you’re not going to find a lot. People just don’t record that much in her class. I know in the first two years of learning hip hop dance there was NO WAY I was going to record myself. No one needs to see my truly sad body rolls. I literally looked like I was trying to upchuck something very disgusting in my body. So if you’re feeling shy about being in front of the camera, chances are very good no one is recording in this class.

 


I have a major crush on this woman for a variety of reasons. 1) She’s extremely talented. Yes she’s a great teacher, no doubt about it. If you’re a beginner who’s never danced before to someone who’s done this for a while, she welcomes you with open arms and this fantastic smile that you keep coming back for more. 2) She’s a fantastic dancer. She’s one of the few teachers I’ve seen who actually takes classes from other people. So to see her work the choreography of other teachers, so good. 3) She’s extremely entertaining. Dancing is not her only strength. She’s part of the dynamic duo that hosts the hilarious and painfully enjoyable Date/Able podcast. You get to hear loads of cringeworthy stories about dating in this city and she and her co-host are fantastic. So what I recommend is listen to the podcast on your way to Yue’s class, take her class, then listen to another Date/Able podcast on your way home. You’ll enjoy the time you’ve spent with her IRL and virtually.

  Watch a typical Yue class

  Yue teaches at Uforia but you may also want to check out her FB for the latest class updates.

  Location: Uforia
1561 California Street

  Street parking

 


David was one of the teachers I started with when I first learned hip hop dance. Thank god that happened because his class is so welcoming and so much fun. The first thing you’ll notice about his class is there are guys in there. If you go to dance classes in general you’ll notice maybe there’s 1-2 guys IF YOU’RE LUCKY. In David’s class there are a bit more. This is really nice because … well seeing a row of men doing body rolls is really nice. For sure, women do fantastic body rolls, but it’s nice to see other side. Anyways, David’s class is perfect for the absolute beginner to your seasoned dancer. His style is very old school, very bouncy, very let’s-party-like-it’s-1999-but-not-in-the-cheesy-oh-my-god-dad-stop-dancing vibe. What I find really amazing about David is he is a true superman dancer. By day he’s a principal of a school, by night he’s super hip hop dancer. I wonder if his students and teachers know how great a dancer he is….lucky for you you can find out by going to his class.

  Watch a typical David Schrag class

  David Schrag teaching schedule

  Location: Dance Mission Theatre
3316 24th Street (corner Mission)

 


So you’ve woken up today and decided you really need to master the cat walk. You’ve decided it is critically important that you learn how to throw your hands back and forth with perfect artistry. You can not live another day till you learn how to do a death drop. Well sweetie, Jocquese Whitfield is here to guide you through your vogue journey. He teaches a regular Vogue & Tone class and trust me, your arms are going to be DEAD TIRED after he’s done with you. But you will love him, you will love his choreography, you will love everything this man throws at you.

  Watch a typical Jocquese Whitfield class

  Follow Jocquese for class updates

  Location: Jocquese teaches at Dance Mission Theatre (3316 24th Street) and ODC Dance Commons (351 Shotwell St)

 


Everyone who decides to learn hip hop eventually makes their way to Micaya’s class. And it’s no surprise why. She’s fantastic. Her classes can be over 50 people to less than 10 and you will feel welcomed and guided through choreography that will undoubtedly leave you looking like you had a bucket of water thrown over your entire body. You will sweat. You will drop it. You will whip it. You will smack it. After taking many beginning hip hop classes with Micaya I joined her workshop series. I would highly recommend you do a workshop if not with Micaya but with anyone. Workshops push your boundaries and really push you to the next level of dance. And plus you gain like 20+ new friends overnight who all love dance, sweating, and eating monster burritos.

  Watch a typical Micaya class

  Micaya Class Schedule

 


Growing up, I was in awe of cheerleaders. The outfits, the hair, but most of all the perfect symmetry and power of their choreography. You can make light of cheerleading and how it’s all surface & fluff but if you spend one day trying to train like a cheerleader you will die of exhaustion. Not only do these ladies train hard, they do it all while looking perfect and not showing a stitch of sweat. So when I heard there was a Golden State Warrior cheerleader teaching choreography specifically to Beyonce I was like TAKE MY GODDAMN MONEY.

Shonna is a powerful and gorgeous dancer who adores Beyoncé and thankfully she shares that joy and love with us every week in her Don’t Worry Be Yoncé SF class. No, you do not need to be a seasoned dancer. You can be an absolute beginner who barely wiggles her hips. Take Shonna’s class, you will not only be dropping your hips real low, but also whipping your hair around like you’re one of Bey’s backup dancers. Shonna has added more classes to her Confidance Fitness calendar including Flash Dance Fridays and Chair Affair (yes that means dancing, writhing, grinding all over and around a chair). She’s added a team of people who also teach and from the looks of it, it’s all good. It’s ALLLL GOOOOD.

  Watch a typical Shonna class

  Confidance Fitness Class Schedule

  Be sure to sign up for the class in advance online. That way your spot is definitely reserved.

 


When you take your first Allan Frias class you’re going to notice one significant thing about his class: everyone is good. He has dedicated dancers who go to his class every week so if you feel like everyone is better than you, it’s because the students in his class have been taking his class for 8+ months and know his groove very well. Do not be intimidated by this. What this means is you are in a class that is BELOVED by many in the Bay Area and when you take his class you’ll understand why. Allan is a big man with huge expressive movements that involve whipping your hair everywhere, hard hits with your hands and hips, and every sexy move you can imagine. Like Emerson Aquino, this man has taught me how to dance like a fierce sensual woman. Yes I learned this from a man. THANK GOD THAT HAPPENED. Because frankly I did not know how to drop my hips in a sexy way until I met this man. In the new year, do not be surprised if Allan’s classes are jam packed. For sure during warm ups, your face could be super close to someone’s butt. That’s normal. Everyone wants to learn from Allan. He has the best choreography in town and the dirtiest jokes to match. You will be sweaty and dying of laughter by the end of his class.

  Watch a typical Allan class

  Allan Frias Class Schedule

  At the beginning of the year, Allan’s class will PACKED. That’s totally normal. It can be overwhelming but power through it because his class is so worth it. But if you can’t handle it, give it a few months and the crowds will die down. Also, warm up your neck before the choreography starts. Trust me, you will be whipping your head around alot in Allan’s class.

 


I first met Alli in dance class and I was speechless at how she moves with such power and sensuality. But what really moves you is her face. Lots of dancers forget their face and remain stone faced throughout a whole song. Alli doesn’t do that. Oh hells no. Alli expresses a whole range of looks from flirtatious kitty kat to super strong queen all within one eight count. When I heard she was teaching class I was like YASSSSSS. Please teach me the Alli way to flip my hair because I have been missing that in my life. Her class is challenging, I’m not gonna lie about that. If you’re an absolute beginner you might be a touch frustrated. But by all means go because you will be welcome with open arms and if anything you will be pushed to be the most fabulous self you’ve ever been. Warm up every part of your body because you gonna flip, roll, and swirl every part of your body.

  Watch a typical Alli class

  Alli teaches regularly at Rae Studios (SF) and Full Out Studios (Oakland).

  Rae Studios is a smaller boutique dance studio so be sure to sign up in advance online to secure your spot.

 


I have clocked alot of hours training with this man and for that I’m forever grateful. I have danced in his class, I have danced in his flash mobs, if he needs a dancer for something I will likely be running because anything that Amber creates is fantastic. I first started taking Amber’s class after doing hip hop for three years. I thought I was good. Then I took Amber’s class. Nope. I sucked. Like I REALLY SUCKED. But that was ok because Amber was there with his generous spirit and his super groovy choreography. His class was the turning point for me. I really started to understand textures and style and realize that was something I really wanted to embody in me. I remember one day Amber taught a class to Beyonce’s Love on Top. I loved that song. I loved the choreography Amber created for it. But when I looked at myself dancing to it, oh HONEY the cringe was significant. I decided from that day forward I was going to really understand Amber’s style and I did and I do every time I take his class. It is fast, it has hard hits, it has powerful stops, it’s everything. Amber teaches absolute beginners to advanced and I’m sure regardless of which class you take, you gonna have a good time.

  Watch a typical Amber class

  Amber regularly teaches at City Dance and in studios all over the Bay Area.

 


Emerson was one of my first teachers when I first started learning hip hop. I would watch his choreography and wish I could just nail an eight count of his with as much ease and fierceness as he expressed. His style is sharp, completely fierce, and one key element I love seeing in dance: joy. The moves are happy. When you do his choreo, you are happy. You just can’t be upset when you’re doing Emerson choreography.

And I will always remain grateful to Emerson because he was the one who taught me how to dance like a fierce elegant woman. Yes I learned this from a man. Without him I’d still be frumpy frump frump all over town.

  Watch a typical Emerson class

  Emerson regularly teaches at City Dance Studios. Be sure to check out the studio he co-founded over in Oakland: Full Out Studios.

 


When you first see Feliciano dance the first thing you notice is how confident and extremely hot he moves. He infuses his choreography with such power and sexuality, yeah…it’s fantastic. You want to learn from this man. He’s trained in Paris (in the same studio as Yanis Marshall) and he teaches here in SF so us mere mortals can benefit from his experience. Great teacher. Breaks steps down carefully and he repeats. You will come away from his class sore but inspired.

  Watch a typical Feliciano class

  Felciano regularly teaches at Rae Studios. In 2017 he’s starting to teach at DogPatch Dance & Yoga.

  Follow Feliciano’s FB as that’s where he updates any new updates or changes to his teaching schedule. The man is busy and is always working on new projects.

 


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.

  Watch a typical Jessica class

  Be sure to sign up for classes online in advance. Rae Studios is a small boutique studio and can get packed pretty quickly.

 


I have to thank my friend Madisyn for guiding me towards Kyle because I never thought I’d really be into his style. I was all about hip hop hip hop hip hop hip hop. And Madisyn kept talking about how Kyle teaches this amazing contemporary class and I was like um…I’ve never taken ballet. I’ve never taken a contemporary or modern class in my life. This is not in my vocabulary. Why are you telling me I need this in my life? Never again am I going to question Madisyn. I LOVE Kyle’s class.

Kyle started teaching a hip hop class this year and from the first time I learned his choreography I knew right away, this is not like a regular hip hop class. Yes you will learn great moves, you will learn counts, you will hit marks. But Kyle’s class feels like this poetic journey you’re taking with a group of dancers and you’re all trying to tell a story. Yes you will be challenged by doing all sorts of crazy moves but most of the time Kyle is trying to teach you how to listen. Listen to him, listen to the song, listen to the environment. Take it all in. Ok, now we dance. Oh you’re filled with joy now? Yeah that’s what it’s like in his class every damn time.

Because of Kyle I’m now taking modern and contemporary classes. And boy oh boy do I suck but it’s ok. Give me time.

  Watch a typical Kyle class

  Kyle teaches regularly at Lines Dance Studio, City Dance, and Full Out Studios.

 


The first time I took class with Leslie was back in 2013 and honestly I was not prepared for the awesomeness that hits you when you’re in her class. When you meet her in her civilian pose, she’s warm and inviting and she has this gorgeous smile that makes you gravitate towards her. But damn when she turns on the dance MODE, she transforms into this powerful, gritty, somewhat intimidating beast and IT’S FANTASTIC. I’m not kidding when she’s in normal human mode everything is fine and sweet and calm and when the switch is triggered for dance goddess, DAMN. It is on.

So her class is hard. It just is. Her moves are very intricate and specific, but they’re full of drama and hair whips which I adore. It was difficult in 2013 and with each year I take class with her it gets easier…a little bit. Her class challenges me alot and that’s why I love her.

  Watch a typical Leslie class

  Leslie regularly teaches at City Dance in SF and at In the Groove in Oakland.

 


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.

  Watch a typical Marqui class

  Marqui regularly teaches at City Dance and in 2017 she’ll be teaching at Rae Studios.

 

2017-rocko-luciano

I don’t even know where to start with this man. It’s scary how talented this guy is. Rocko Luciano not only is a great teacher and dancer, but MY GOD he’s such a great visual artist and he’s always just so camera ready.  You’ll learn all of this when you spend more time with this guy.

His class style is unique in that one day it can be super butch and then the next the femmiest of the femme femme. And that is Rocko’s strength. He can do it all. He’s got this unique avant garde style that I have not seen in class before. His choreography can be dark, goofy, beautiful, ugly, everything. I would recommend his class for the student who’s been taking dance for a while or feel like they can pick up choreography quickly. You will notice most of his students are his regulars. He is one of those “once you go Rocko you never go back” sort of teachers. Students are dedicated to him and they go to his regular classes, they audition for his dance company INQ, they trek over to Oakland to learn at his studio. He’s just someone you wanna be around and learn from.

  Watch a typical Rocko Luciano class

  Rocko teaches regularly at Full Out Studios (Oakland) and City Dance – Main Location (SF)

  Location: Full Out Studios 1225A 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607
City Dance – Main Location 10 Chase Court, San Francisco, CA 94103

  Full Out Studios only has street parking. City Dance has one of those things you NEVER see in the city, a free parking lot right in front of the studio.

  Full Out Studios is a 6 minute walk from the West Oakland BART.
City Dance – Main Location is a 5 minute walk from the Van Ness Muni Station

  Every so often Rocko puts a call out for dancers to be part of flash mobs. I’ve done several with him. It’s kind of awesome. Sign up here if you want to get in on it. Classes are free.

 

The Company – Westlake School for the Performing Arts

Intermediate – Advanced
Added 1/2/2016 – So Ian commented on my post that The Company was missing from my list and he’s right. I can’t believe I forgot The Company and that is being fixed right now. The Company is a dance company started by Shaun Evaristo and Pat Cruz. If you don’t know who they are, they’re kind of a big deal. Just Google them, you’ll see.

The Company represents the Westlake School for the Performing Arts in Daly City and every Tuesday night they host a class for the community. These classes are NOT for beginners. You need to know some moves to survive in this class. They’re extremely welcoming, but just know…you are not just learning a grapevine. You are learning from dancers who are competitors and/or are working dancers. It is hard. But it is SOOOO GOOD.

  Watch a typical Company class

  Location: Westlake School for the Performing Arts
Make sure you follow The Company’s FB and IG for class updates.

  Pay attention in March because that’s when The Company presents Urban Paradise. It’s a huge show by some of the best dance teams around. So yes you should see the show but more important pay attention to The Company’s FB and IG because that’s when they host some of the BEST workshops. People who aren’t usually here in the Bay Area come teach intense classes. The space will be packed but it’s so worth it. I took Anthony Lee’s workshop back in 2015 and it was crazy good.

 

The Get Down

Beginner – Intermediate
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 great dance choreography. All of that is in the South Bay. The Get Down (note this dance studio came before the Netflix show) is a lovely studio that teaches hip hop hop, waacking, house, and bachata. 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.

  Watch a typical The Get Down class

  The Get Down Studio only has street parking. They teach class every day of the week.

 

Groov3

Beginner
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 in San Jose.

Groov3 is growing and now there’s a regular class in Milpitas hosted by Rhoville. Follow her FB for class updates. I have not taken Rhoville’s class officially but I’ve been in class with her so I know, she’s a fantastic dancer. Plus, her videos clearly look like it’s a good time.

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.

  Watch a typical Groov3 class

  Follow Susan and Kerry’s FB accounts for latest San Jose class updates, learn from them, they’re all sorts of awesome.
Follow Rhoville’s FB for her regular class in Milpitas.

 

Groovitude

Beginner – Intermediate
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.

  Watch a typical Groovitude class

  Follow the Groovitude FB for updates. Also check out their website for class information and workshops.

 

Montage Dance Productions

Beginner/Intermediate
Montage is deep in the dance community. They teach hip hop, bollywood, ballet, contemporary, funk, jazz, and Kpop throughout the week. They also host an urban competition every year. Some of my favorite dancers (Jaylen, Stephen) teach here so I know the place is good.

  Watch a typical Montage class

  Follow the Montage Dance Productions FB for updates.

 

Motions Arts Center in San Mateo

(Added 3/12/2017)
So this place looks like they only teach Tango, but they did hire an AMAZING hip hop dance teacher and it’s Amber. If you’ve read my review of him here you’d know that I think he’s fantastic. And the fact that he regularly teaches in the Peninsula is great. SO GREAT. Big roomy studio for loads of hip hop fun.

  Watch a typical Amber hip hop class.

  Motion Arts Center has 8 free parking spots out in front of their studio. More info from their website.

 

On One Studios

Added 9/13/2017. I heard about On One Studios when they started out as Monday Night Workshop. If you’ve done a bit of hip hop dance you know about MNW: Monday nights in this studio they bring in some of the best hip hop choreographers to teach to a packed crowd of hungry dancers. It’s amazing. Well now they’ve blossomed into their own studio. And it’s SUPER GONZO OMG AH-MAH-ZING. They officially had their grand opening on 9/9 and it’s everything that I’ve expected from them. It’s high quality, it’s tough choreography, the vibe of the place is extremely open, the floors are slick and bouncy, and the bass is deep.

They teach all levels but just know, their intermediate/advanced levels are serious. The choreographers that come in push their students and because of that you come away with some knowledge that you don’t get in many studios. You move faster, your hits are stronger, your textures are more pronounced. I love this place and I think you will too.

Their schedule changes weekly, choreographers sometimes switch days they regularly teach but they do teach regularly.

Who am I liking lately at On One? So far I’m totally obsessed with Brandon Huynh and Kevin Nguyen. Not easy. Very intricate and difficult. But when you watch them do their choreo you’re like OH MY GOD I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DO THAT. So I highly recommend both of them if you’re in the mood to challenge yourself and have your mind melted.

  Watch a typical On One Studio class

  On One Studios Schedule: Their schedule changes weekly, choreographers sometimes switch days they regularly teach but they do teach regularly.

  Location: On One Studios, 442 N. Capitol Avenue, San Jose, CA 95133. There is LOADS of free parking because it’s in strip mall. Park near Target if you want to be near the studio.

 

Studio V

Beginner-Advanced
Do you know about Academy of Villains? If not, hold on and watch them please. They are one of the best innovative and visually stunning theatrical dance companies I’ve ever seen. Founders Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenix” Meraz have put together this working company that competes and performs throughout the United States. And you lucky duck, you can learn from AOV company members at Studio V. It’s literally like taking a class with a company member of the SF Ballet. It’s so cool. Here’s what it’s like taking a class with company member Frank Pagmanua Jr. So good. The style and the level varies with each teacher, sometimes it can be super technical and hard other times it can be chill and easy. Either way you’re going to have a good time.

  Watch a typical Studio V class. The Studio V website sometimes takes forever to load but it eventually works. Their class schedule is here.

  Yes it’s in a suburban part of town that seems really dark. Yes you’re in the right neighborhood. Yes you can park in the lot (corner of Spring Street and Warrington Ave) after 5pm even though the signs say don’t park there. I haven’t gotten a ticket yet cause everyone keeps telling me it’s ok. But if you still feel weird about it there is loads of parking on the street.

 

Uforia Studios

Beginner-Intermediate
Uforia is a unique studio because they teach not only hip hop dance but they also have a regular strength training and spinning class. I only focus on their dance classes which I think are PERFECT for your absolute beginner. I’ve taken class with Olivia, Alyson, Jazon, and Karen. They are indeed, as Uforia calls them, rockstars. One thing you need to understand about Uforia hip hop dance classes: there are very little breaks. So when they say you’re going to dance for 60 minutes, you’re going to be dancing for 60 minutes. You will be dying but happy with all the hair whipping and bootie dropping moves.

  Uforia has two studios: one in Palo Alto and another in SF. So when you sign up for classes be sure you’re picking the right studio. AND definitely sign up for classes early. The Palo Alto space specifically is a smaller space and they do sell out. It totally makes sense to sign up a week in advance.

  There is loads of street parking. It’s Palo Alto, not SF. Also, follow the Uforia FB for updates.

 

Oakland

Flying Studios

Beginner-Advanced
Added 1/26/2016 – It’s hard for me to get to Oakland from the Peninsula. You got the distance plus the bridge then traffic. But I was recently informed that Momo Lebeau teaches at Flying Studio (as well as In The Groove Studios) and that alone makes me think I need to commute more to Oakland. I have not been to this studio but judging by what it looks like and the style they teach there, I feel like I need to get to this studio sometime this year.

If you follow their FB and IG, you’ll see posts for upcoming special workshops like this one with the fabulous Allan Frias.

  Watch a typical Momo Lebeau class.

  Class information and signups can be done through their website. Follow their FB and IG for even more updates.

Full Out Studios

Beginner-Advanced
In summer of 2016 a new sparkling ray of light opened up in Oakland and that place was Full Out Studios. Founders Emerson Aquino, Rocko Luciano, and Anthony Esposo opened this fantastic studio that teaches jazz funk, urban choreogrphy, contemporary, hip hop, popping, waacking, lyrical and more. They’ve got some of my favorites: Alli Fritz, Rocko Luciano, Kathleen Tung & Chris Alcanices, Brandon Davis. They also bring in the most fantastic teachers for one time workshops.

  Watch a typical Full Out Studios class.

  Check out the latest class updates from the Full Out Studios FB account. They do have a website but their FB is updated much more frequently.

 

In The Groove Studios

Beginner-Advanced
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 from: Leslie Panitchpakdi, Chelsea Martin, Daniel Kang. They teach loads of hip hop but also dancehall, K-Pop, urban choreography, twerking, and more. They also bring in some of the most ridiculously good teachers for one time workshops.

  Watch a typical In The Groove Studios class.

  Check out the latest class updates from the In The Groove Studios FB account. The class schedule for their two studios is here.

 

New Style Motherlode

Beginner-Advanced
Added 1/2/2016 – So when three people comment and email you asking “Why isn’t New Style Motherlode on your list?” you pay attention. To be clear, I have not taken a class at this studio (It takes around 2 hours for me to get to Oakland from my home so hey…it’s hard to get there…cut me some slack) but judging by how passionate people are about this place, I have to get there this year. Corey Action is NSM Director and judging by my FB stalking and IG stalking work his classes look EXACTLY the style I love. Lo Barbosa’s class looks ah-mah-zing. And whaaaaaa? They had Aisha Francis teach a workshop there???!!! Oh my god, I have been missing out.

So thanks internet people for pointing me to critically important information.

  Watch a typical New Style Motherlode class.

  Class information and signups can be done through their website.

12 Comments Where to learn hip hop dancing in the Bay Area – 2017

  1. Denise Pate

    Yikes! A list without Newstyle Motherlode studio? Wait..I’ll go back and read..maybe I missed it.

  2. Ian

    Westlake School for Performing Arts has weekly classes on Tuesday nights, as well as monthly workshops taught by their competitive team The Company! Don’t forget them; they’ve been around the Bay for more than a decade 😉

  3. Fe' Mamaril

    I agree with Denise!!! NSM International! On Broadway in Oakland CA ( Since 1994) ❤

  4. Lydia Clinton

    You should also add MVMNT Studio in Berkeley to your list because they are no joke. I recently went to their house jam session, and it was amazing! The dancers were so good! The studio also hosts the Bay Area House Dance Festival. I’m not sure about their breaking and caporeira (because I haven’t taken those class) but imagine they are good as well.
    Also, for the South Bay, you need to add Purdance located in San Jose. I took their popping and house classes, and they were good. A number of teachers that are at Purdance teach in SF and Oakland as well like Jardy Santiago (house) and Alex Flores aka Prince Ali (popping). Please check out this studio.

  5. Jenny

    Thank you so much for this post, it was so so helpful! I had no idea what I was doing when looking for a class as an absolute beginner. I’m taking my first hip hop class ever w/Shereen on your recommendation. I’m super nervous but also excited!

  6. Gracie

    Thank goodness I found this post because it was very very informative and a confidence booster. I’ve always had a love for dance especially hip hop, but I stopped after high school and never continued. After I hit my late 20’s and now 33, I felt I was too old to try classes again and might embarrass myself. After reading your post, watched the videos, and researched all those studios and teachers….I finally found the courage to sign up. I decided that I will attend Shereen’s next class this Friday and pick a hip hop class at Uforia. I’m super nervous and I know I’ll probably make a fool of myself, but I will trust every word on your blog and just go with it. My 7yr old son is totally in love with the fact that I will start dance classes so I really can’t back out now. He just found his love for dancing and I am hoping to get him into classes at Westlake. He told me today “you better go to your class and not cancel. If they laugh, ignore them ….just dance”….so you know what, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll just dance. THANK YOU for this blog…. if not for this helpful recommendation, I don’t think I’ll ever do this. I’m excited! 🙂

  7. Sharon

    Thanks so much for this list — your experience and insight are very helpful for an absolute beginner like myself! 🙂

  8. Judy

    Thank you so much for this super helpful and extremely informative list. I was traveling to SF for a week and wanted to take a morning hip hop class every day I was there. So many places had only night classes so after reading your recommendation for Shereen Prince I found ODC to be the perfect place for me. I loved it! I wish you could do a comprehensive list like this for hip hop places in NY. Thanks again!

  9. Irina

    Hi Elaine! First of all, thank you for such helpful website!! I’ve been following it for awhile. I have a question, have you by any chance came across any street jazz classes in the bay area? I remember you used to have Alec Piliafas’ video on your page. I’ve been trying so hard to find something that would at least come close to his style but no luck yet. You seem like an extremely knowledgeable person when it comes to dance classes in the bay area so I thought I’d ask..thank you!!

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