The rhythm of life: seven dance classes to try in the UAE

Dance enthusiasts across the UAE have been stepping up their moves in the past year, with the region’s dance studios logging an increasing number of inquiries from wannabe jiggers. We have all heard of Zumba – the aerobic dance workout based on Latin dancing – and it’s still going strong, but there are new dance […]

Dance enthusiasts across the UAE have been stepping up their moves in the past year, with the region’s dance studios logging an increasing number of inquiries from wannabe jiggers. We have all heard of Zumba – the aerobic dance workout based on Latin dancing – and it’s still going strong, but there are new dance styles catching our attention that offer an upbeat, social exercise option that burns fat, tones muscles and improves memory.

“I dance twice a week to keep fit and increase my flexibility,” says the professional singer Salha Al Busaidy, who has been dancing in Dubai since 2002. “But most of all, I dance because I like to start my day with music and movement; a serious workout that’s seriously fun.”

Increasingly, dance enthusiasts have become more aware of how the art form benefits the brain. A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of ­Medicine compared a variety of leisure activities for their effect on mental sharpness. Participants were asked to read, play musical instruments, complete crossword puzzles, swim, play tennis, cycle and dance, among other activities. Out of all the options on this list, dance proved to reduce the risk of dementia by the largest margin. One of the reasons for this is that dance requires “split-second, rapid-fire decision making”, according to a Stanford ­University citation of the study. When you study dance, whether it’s ballroom or salsa, your mind guides your body into new positions on each beat – or half-beat – of the music. Dance is considered freeing, sociable and helps to reduce stress. Many are drawn to dance for these reasons, but while they’re getting their groove on, the brain is reaping as many rewards as the body. With the popularity of the funkiest fitness form rising, here’s a list of some of the latest dance crazes that people across the UAE are tapping into.

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For the novice willing to give dance a try –

Sh’bam

This Les Mills class is designed for people with little or no dance experience who enjoy the latest pop hits. Instructors teach choreographies set by the Les Mills teams, each one linked to a song. The class progresses from less strenuous to a more moderate pace with an increased heart rate. Cheering, clapping, and other expressions of enthusiasm add to the party atmosphere. It’s great for people who don’t exercise regularly but want to get back in shape in a fun way.

Abu Dhabi: Fitness First in Marina Mall (ladies only) and other locations.

Dubai: Fitness First in Ibn Battuta and other locations.

Price: Dh75 for one session in a group with a book of coupons; prices decrease per class if you buy a membership.

Web: www.fitnessfirstme.com

Pre-requisites: Beginners are welcome. Previous dance experience helps, but isn’t required.

Fitness level: 1/4

Coordination required: 1/4

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Ballet

Ballet isn’t just for children – adults can enjoy it, too. These classes help you learn classical ballet techniques while developing dynamic movement skills applying the learned dance vocabulary to well-known ballet numbers. Classes are vigorous and fun. Open for beginners and those with prior experience.

Abu Dhabi: Bodytree, Mubarak Bin ­Mohammed Street, Abu Dhabi, days and times vary.

Price: Dh70 drop-in rate or 10 classes from Dh640.

Web: www.bodytreestudio.com

Dubai: The Ballet Centre, Villa 64, 16C Street, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, Wednesdays, 6.45pm.

Price: Dh50 per class.

Web: www.balletcentredubai.com

Fitness level: 2/4

Coordination required: 1/4

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Barre

Primarily a muscle-toning class that draws its exercises from ballet. The New York City Ballet Workout, which was popular in the 1990s, gave rise to the concept that non-dancers can also reap the benefits of targeted muscle work – especially for the backside. Increasing strength and flexibility are the ­priorities. In a challenging version of the class, you will also work up a sweat.

Abu Dhabi: The Room, Zayed Sports City, times vary.

Price: Dh65 for one session in a group; prices decrease per class the more sessions you buy.

Web: www.theroom.ae

Dubai: Zen Yoga, locations and times vary.

Price: Dh90 for one session in a group; prices decrease per class the more sessions you buy.

Web: www.yoga.ae

Prerequisites: Beginners are welcome. Previous ballet experience helps, but isn’t required.

Fitness level: 2/4

Coordination required: 1/4

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For the fearless dance enthusiast

Hip-hop/contemporary

If you’re enamoured with the kind of choreography you see on shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, and don’t mind a bit of sweat, check out ­Sharmila Kamte’s Live Dance at Ductac in ­Dubai. Live Dance combines hip-hop, jazz and contemporary in a class that challenges your mind as much as your stamina. While the class is demanding, brave beginners are constantly coming to class and falling for Sharmila’s irrepressible energy and technique.

Dubai: Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Sundays and Wednesdays, 10.30am to 11.30am; Saturdays, 7.30pm.

Price: Dh65 per class; Dh600 for a 10-class card. There’s no Abu Dhabi option for this kind of class, but it’s worth the drive to Dubai.

Web: www.sharmiladance.com

Prerequisites: Ballet or modern dance technique is helpful, but not required.

Fitness level: 3/4

Coordination required: 3/4

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Vertical flex

A UAE euphemism for a sport with less than wholesome origins that’s gaining popularity worldwide, this form of dancing is done with and around a four-metre pole. The sport promises to improve upper body strength, burn fat, and improve balance and coordination. “Guaranteed to give you the ego boost of a lifetime,” claims Pole Fit Dubai, a studio based in Dubai’s Marina, which offers classes for every level. One precaution: don’t apply moisturiser for 12 hours before class, or you might slip.

Abu Dhabi: Cobra Fitness, Al Bandar or Al Raha Boulevard, Al Raha East.

Price: Dh70 for one session in a group class; prices decrease per class the more sessions you buy.

Web: www.cobrafitnessuae.com

Dubai: Pole Fit Dubai, Ground Floor, Marina Sail Tower, Dubai Marina.

Price: Dh100 for one session in a group class; prices decrease per class the more sessions you buy.

Web: www.polefitdubai.com

Prerequisites: Beginners are welcome.

Fitness level: 3/4

Coordination required: 2/4

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For bonding with your significant other

Zouk

Zouk is both a style of music and dance that literally means “party” in Creole, betraying its French Caribbean roots. What makes it different from similar styles such as kizomba, lambada or samba, is a wavelike movement through the hips and sharp turns of the head by the female. Partners stand close together to practise the “slow-quick-quick-slow” rhythm, while the woman’s feet stamp sharply into the ground.

Dubai: Sundays at La Porte des Indes in The Address Hotel Dubai Mall.

Price: Dh50 per person, no pre­registration or partner required.

Web: www.theaddress.com/en/hotels/the-address-dubai-mall

Abu Dhabi: Purple Dance Studios, Al Nahyan, Saturdays, 8pm and 9pm.

Price: Dh50; prices decrease per class the more sessions you buy.

Prerequisites: Experience with Latin dancing experience helps, but beginners are welcome and catered for.

Web: www.zoukelements.com

Fitness level: 1/4

Coordination required: 2/4

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Tango

Argentine tango, a slow, sensual form of Latin dancing, is “about the embrace and the walk. The nature of the embrace helps the body release oxytocin, a ‘bonding’ hormone, that is responsible for feelings of trust, security, positive mood, and facilitates healing,” claim the founders of Tango-OK, Oliver and Lin Krstic, who have taught classes since 2012. The married couple’s weekly “milongas” – gatherings of tango dancers where traditional rituals are observed – are popular in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi: Tango-OK. The Music Hub, Second Floor, Falcon Tower, Unit 202, Hamdan Street, opposite Al Hosn Fort.

Dubai: Tango-OK, Unit 1,802, 18th Floor, The Dome Tower, Cluster N, Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

Web: www.tango-ok.com

Price: Dh70 for one session in a group foundation class; prices decrease per class if you buy a package; Dh80 per class for higher-level courses.

Prerequisites: Beginners are welcome.

Fitness level: 1/4

Coordination required: 2/4

weekend@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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