Dance instructor Alana Hock describes the first day of any dance class as a bit like the first day of school.

While some students are shy, the owner of the Glebe’s Dance With Alana gets the students dancing right away.

“All feelings of self-consciousness and shyness go right out the door,” said Hock, who’s been teaching for 20 years.

Sounds like a typical dance class, but these aren’t your stereotypical first-time dance students — Dance With Alana specializes in swing dance, lindy hop, tap, jazz, zumba, burlesque and Bollywood — for adults.

“Lots of schools offer class for kids,” said Hock. The idea is to make dance accessible to adults by offering the majority of classes during evenings and weekends.

Thanks to popular TV shows, different kinds of dance, like tap, are making a comeback, said Hock.

While classes like bellydance are about celebrating women, zumba is “basically a big dance party,” said Hock. “You don’t need a dance background. It makes it easy for someone who’s never danced and is more enjoyable than walking on a treadmill, for example.”

There are many reasons that adults decide they want to dance, Hock said.

“Some people always wanted to dance when they were little and never got to because their parents didn’t have the money, and others who had to step away from dance wanted to come back,” she said.

Adults make very focused students. “They want to learn and get as much as they can out of the experience,” she said.

There are dozens of studios in the city offering dance classes. Another is The Studio School of Dance, which offers jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, street dance and ballet.

While the majority of students there are children, the school offers adult classes as well.
Different kinds of dance offer different fitness benefits, said Jennifer Vorobej, the school’s co-director.

While dance is a great creative outlet for both adults and kids, it has different benefits — which aren’t all physical — for both.

“For kids, it gets rid of that awkward stage they go through, and for adults, it lets you understand your body better. And from an emotional perspective, it’s an hour you can spend away from your life. You can come into the studio and concentrate on yourself.”

While dance has traditionally taken years to learn, www.Dancestudios.ca offers a popular crash course option in addition to regular classes.

The crash course is for people who don’t have the time to take a class a week, or who are looking for a quick fix because they’re going to a special event or on vacation, said Greg Szymborski, artistic director for www.Dancestudios.ca.

The Chapel Street studio offers a variety of classes for beginner and advanced students, including salsa, merengue, cha-cha, bellydance, ballroom, Latin, Latin for kids, and the popular wedding dance lessons.

“It’s a huge market,” said Szymborski “Starting in January, it gets really busy. Couples bring in their music and we do the choreography for them.”

For all other classes, a partner is not required.