Some people are just born with an inherent passion for the performing arts. For some, it’s music or theatre and for some, it’s an unexplainable need to dance. If that’s you, then why not learn to dance?

If moving your body to the rhythm of a song sounds like a natural expression of who you are, the choices are virtually unlimited.

There are dance classes available for almost every style imaginable across South Africa today. And there are a great many qualified dance teachers with heaps of experience who are willing to teach beginners and broaden the knowledge of those who already have a few steps behind them.

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” - Martha Graham

From classical ballet dance to tango, ballroom, salsa or Latin, dance teachers are also available for every level of ability: whether you are an aspiring dancer with no experience; an intermediate seeking particular workshops; or an expert desiring a top dance studio or dance academy; make sure that you check out the online directories of tutors in South Africa as part of your research.

In this article, we will look at the difference between learning how to dance through academic institutions compared to private dance schools or academies and private tutors.

Academic Institutions

Fortunately in South Africa today, the general attitude towards education in the area of the performing arts is progressive, with Dance Studies even available as part of the National Curriculum up to Grade 12. Whether it’s a primary school, high school, college or university, there are many options and dance styles to incorporate into your education.

If you are serious about learning how to dance, an academic institution where qualified teachers are guaranteed is an excellent option. Furthermore, students also have the opportunity to prove themselves through recognised exams that will take them from one grade to another from an early age.

Academic institutions are just one option for learning how to dance, you may prefer to go through a private dance school and this is certainly an option, regardless of your current level of ability. Remember that a dance studio or dance academy, located near you, will save you time, so be sure to search  dance classes near me when looking for the right school.

Private Dance Schools  

Many talented dancers have the experience, qualifications, and ability to become teachers. Many have even gone on to open up a dance studio or dance academy.

Regardless of your ability, private dance teachers are available for every level of experience. So whether you are brand new to dancing, intermediate or experienced, the chances are that you will find a dance teacher near you. Remember of course, that dance teachers, particularly ballet teachers, offer varying rates depending on their qualifications, experience, and the level of instruction. It stands to reason that the more complex the choreography required, the higher the dance instructor's rate is likely to be.

Tuition is usually paid monthly, or every semester, however, fees are often paid annually in bigger academic institutions or professional dance schools. Often, there is the opportunity to attend a trial lesson. This is a really good option as this not only allows the tutor to evaluate your ability, but it also provides you with the opportunity to see whether those particular dance classes are suited to you.

Indian classical dancer
There are a multitude of dance styles taught across South Africa. ⎢Source: Unsplash

One of the great advantages of a private dance studio or dance academy is that many of them hold holiday workshops over the school holidays for kids, introductory sessions for absolute beginners or advanced tuition for more serious dancers who want to further hone their skills over the holiday period. Dancing talent can often be distinguished in a child from a young age and if the child expresses an interest in dancing, a great step is to enrol the child into a private dancing school as an important supplementary aid to their education. This is a necessary step should the child ultimately decide to dance as part of their tertiary education.

Finally, the main advantage of private dance schools is that there is usually a wide variety of styles on offer to learn. So whether it’s ballet dance, the waltz, tango, rumba or cha-cha, it’s probably available through a private school.

Dancing as a Tertiary Education: Universities and Academies   

To be accepted into a professional dance academy is truly an accolade for a promising dancer. In fact, places at top dance academies and universities are so rare that one has to really stand out and, as mentioned above, have made the right tutoring decisions from an early age.

If you have your sights set on a dance education at this level, the main thing is to prepare well by making sure that your application is of the highest standard. Generally, if your application makes a shortlist, the selectors will expect you to audition too.

Do your homework about the institution for which you are applying and try to find out as much as possible about their selection and audition process so that you can be as well-prepared as possible. For instance, at the UCT School of Dance which has been going for over 80 years, the main road to entry is the audition.

Finding someone to speak to who has studied through the institution you are interested in applying for, would be extremely helpful in helping you to prepare for an audition. There’s always somebody who knows somebody, so if you don’t know anyone yourself, ask around until you find someone who can advise you.

The Best Dance Academies in South Africa

In South Africa, there are four highly recommended universities from which to obtain a Bachelor's in Theatre and Dance: The University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University, Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town.

ballet dancer in pointe ballet shoes
To be accepted into a private dance academy, you will have to pass an audition.⎢Source: Unsplash

Apart from these, the following reputable South African private dance academies are worth investigating:

  • The Dance Factory, Johannesburg
  • Glazer Catherine School of Ballet, Mpumalanga
  • Jacques Carstens Dance Studio, Cape Town
  • Floorcraft Dance Studio, Durban
  • Arthur Murrray Dance Studios, Port Elizabeth

It cannot be emphasised enough, in South Africa, starting at a young age with a reputable dance academy increases one’s chances of being accepted for a bachelor’s degree at one of the universities mentioned above. From there, whether you choose to stay in your home country or continue your studies abroad, some dancers move on to master's degrees and even Ph.D.’s after an undergraduate like a bachelors.

Remember, if dancing is going to be your, or your child’s lifelong career, planning this career path starts at an early age.

Learn to Dance with a Private Tutor

Perhaps you simply want to learn to dance as a hobby or want to increase your confidence. Or maybe you do have life-long ambitions, but would like to test the waters first. Either way, and regardless of whether it’s rock ‘n roll, ballet, jazz, hip hop or the foxtrot, why not consider a private dance tutor located near you?

There are so many advantages to learning with a private tutor, firstly there is the option of learning in the comfort of your own home and then, of course, there is the possibility of having input into the musical repertoire, pace of learning and the specific techniques that you admire.

There is also more flexibility and support when embarking on dance classes with a private tutor compared to learning in a group class or workshop.

There really are so many different styles of dance, the trick is to find a tutor who is as passionate about you about the one you love. You may even find a tutor for one of the following dance styles on a platform like Superprof.

  • Hip Hop
  • Tango
  • Ballroom
  • Cha-Cha
  • Ballet
  • Breakdancing
  • Salsa
  • Tap
  • Swing
  • Jazz
  • Greek.

In fact, on Superprof, you can try and find tutors right near your home and failing that, thanks to the technology, you can look for tutors from anywhere around the world, all you need is a webcam and the world of dance is your oyster.

ballet dancers in dance class
There are dance classes available for aspirant dancers of every level of ability.⎢Source: Unsplash

Another benefit of a platform like Superprof is that in many cases, tutors offer their first lesson for free. This is so helpful as it will help both parties to establish whether you potentially have the right tutor-student partnership.

Classifieds, tutor agencies, social media and community noticeboards are also a good place to look for tutors.

Dance classes with a private tutor can range from lessons for beginners to more intensive courses. Even if you have never stepped onto a dance floor in your life, don’t feel overwhelmed there is a tutor out there for you.

Very often couples will look for private dance lessons with a tutor to prepare for their wedding day and there are many tutors who specialise in these requests.

Dancing should be fun, interesting and invigorating – to learn to dance is often a way to escape the stresses of life or a talent to be carefully nurtured.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.