I’ve been dancing since I could walk. It’s a huge part of who I am. But I lost touch with that part of me after I had kids.
First, there were the changes to my body during pregnancy. Then there was the recovery from the births. And then I just got consumed with the day-to-day of motherhood. When I lost the outlet of dance, I noticed I was more tense. I was irritable. I was unfulfilled artistically. And I was probably pretty bad company for a while.
When I moved to Boston, I really wanted to find myself in dance again, but I had no idea where to start. Boston is a big city, and there are lots of studios, but finding just the right class or workshop or instructor can be a challenge. It took a lot of trial and error. So I’m here to share some great places to start — whether you’re a seasoned dancer looking to get back into it or if you’re looking to try dance for the first time! Here are my four go-to dance classes for adults in Boston!
Jeannette Neill Dance :: Brighton
Jeanette Neill is the place to go if you’re a jazz lover. They have other classes, like modern and hip hop, but classical jazz technique is their bread and butter. The studio space is terrific and located at the new New Balance Fitness Club in Brighton. They offer lots of adult dance classes for all skill levels, plus youth programs and repertory performances.
The studio has hosted more than a hundred guest artists, teachers, and choreographers, including Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Desmond Richardson, Carmen de Lavellade, and Chet Walker. They have been listed in Best of Boston by Boston Magazine three times, received a 2004 A-List Award by WBZ-TV, and there’s even an official Jeannette Neill Day here in Boston.
The Dance Complex :: Cambridge
The Dance Complex is an enormous, five-story dance mecca located right in Central Square. It’s the perfect place to start if you’re shopping around for your go-to dance class. They offer classes in almost every style imaginable, from ballet to bachata. Available styles include tango, West African, modern, Bollywood, tap, capoeira, jazz, hip-hop, and more. They manage to specialize in so many styles thanks to the size of the complex and the many talented instructors they bring in from all over Boston to teach.
They offer drop-in classes, class “packages,” workshops, repertory, performances, and studio rental. Length of classes, cost, and terms for each class are set by the instructor, so it’s very personal. It’s a wonderful to explore dance and meet other dancers!
Jose Mateo Ballet :: Cambridge and Dorchester
Jose Mateo’s adult program is one of the largest offerings of its kind in New England. It provides ballet opportunities for dancers at every skill level, from beginner through professionals, offered Monday through Saturday! With drop-in classes and ongoing sessions, there is an option for anyone’s schedule. Their studio space is truly special, located in the gothic revival Old Cambridge Baptist Church (circa 1867) in the Harvard Square Historic District. Its 50-foot ceilings, stained glass, and expansive interior space make dancing or spectating there a spiritual experience.
They also offer an excellent pre-professional preparatory program for young ballet dancers. Their Dorchester studio has classes for children ages 3 to 8.
Boston Ballet :: Boston and Newton
Though Boston Ballet is most well known for its talented company, you definitely don’t have to be a prima ballerina to take class there. They offer drop-in classes for every skill level, as well as workshops (taught in two- to ten-week sessions) and master classes. I love that they also offer inclusive programming for adults with differing abilities to explore movement in a safe and supportive environment.
It’s a great place to learn technique from the masters, and they also offer excellent youth and pre-professional programs.
Know of another Boston studio that deserves a mention? Let us know!
Shout-out to my girls at Cambridge Dance Company for letting me use their images.
This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated in 2023.