Samba and Bhangra in New York

It’s December 1st, which means the class schedule is adjusting at the prestigious New York City dance school The Ailey School (run by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater). But don’t freak out—we’re not professional dancers, either, and that’s why we love (and clearly recommend) the Ailey Extension.

The Extension is the part of Alvin Ailey devoted to teaching “real people” how to dance. No experience necessary! But you still get the high ceilings and mirrored studios the spoiled Ailey School students get, and your friends will be flabbergasted when you tell them you take classes at the Alvin Ailey studios (hey, it’s not a lie!). Most classes are at night, so dropping by after work (with a change of clothes and some sneakers) is easy.

While in New York, Karina and I attended a few Masala Bhangra Workout classes with Sarina Jain and loved it so much we followed the instructor to SELF magazine’s Workout in the Park in Central Park one Saturday. If you’re not into the dance school thing and have a gym membership, she also teaches virtually the same class at CRUNCH Fitness. Here’s a peek:

But what really stole my heart is the samba. The colorfully-clad instructor, Quenia Ribeiro hails from Rio de Janeiro, where her mother was a samba dancer. She’s danced for 30 years herself, at Radio City Music Hall and even on Telemundo. Don’t miss the super-charged Saturday lesson from 4-6 p.m., when the class is full of experienced dancers and newbies, all laughing and shouting in samba lines to a live band.

In the video below, Quenia Ribeiro (in white, with the abs) and her Ailey samba dance workshop paraded up and down the streets of New York showing off new moves as part of Quenia’s “Bloco Ribeiro” event.

There aren’t any monthly membership fees or anything of the sort. Just pay per class, so if you don’t like something, you never have to go back again. It also comes in handy if you embarrass yourself horribly and can’t bear to show your face again. (I speak from experience… Let’s just say hip hop is not my thing.) New students can get the first two classes for $25 total, and afterward, each additional class is $17. You get discounts as you buy more classes at a time, and a nifty little key ring card (like at the grocery store) to store your info, so you just swipe. It beats spelling K-A-L-M-A-N-S-O-N before every class!

Happy dancing! Click here for a class schedule, or here for a printable December class calendar for the fridge.

The Ailey Extension, 405 W. 55th St. (at Ninth Avenue), New York, NY 10019, 212-405-9500, www.aileyextension.com. Subway: 59th St/Columbus Circle (1, 2, A, C, B).

Tara for TKGO

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