Cristina crafts pieces on travel, parenting and lifestyle. Connect with her at www.editorialcreatives.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Editorial-Creatives/147954298617175 and @CristinaDimen on Twitter. WN mentor link: www.weekendnotes.com/profile/37614/
Published October 7th 2011
When co-founders Hanne Larsen and Melanie Zrihen opened Downtown Dance Factory's (DDF) doors in September 2009 with 150 students, they probably didn't think that they'd outgrow their former Chambers Street location in just a year's time. They did—by many happy steps, sashays, leaps and bounds.
Photo wall shows kids in classes (taken by Angela Weir Photography) and performing in DDF's annual recitals (taken by Anna Palma).
As Tribeca's first comprehensive dance center, DDF attracts students from various parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. Currently, there are about 800 kids enrolled in their children's programs, with approximately 100 of them, boys—which is "unheard of for a dance school," says Larsen, who also serves as DDF's artistic director.
Bold lines and dots of black and white catch the eye.
Once the elevator doors open to the fifth floor of 291 Broadway, DDF's new home since Fall 2010, you and your young one will enter a venue where high-quality and thoughtful dance instruction is complemented by a fun, lively and learning-conducive environment—designed by Ghislaine Vinas Interior Design.
Playful images in dance poses are seen throughout DDF.
DDF offers a range of dance styles—ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theater; plus their ever-popular all-boys classes for the 3- to 10-year-old age range, and the biggest hip hop/breakdancing class for boys in the city.
Boys breaking some cool moves. Photo by Angela Weir Photography.
Aside from teaching students a sequence of moves, "we're very conscious of making every class a positive experience, in which self-expression and individuality is encouraged and a positive body image is always promoted," notes Larsen.
Hanne with a little ballerina. Photo by Angela Weir Photography.
Your budding dancer will enjoy the new developments at DDF, including—10 boys classes per week for ages 3 to 10 years (all taught by male instructors), more lyrical and tap programs, and the addition of street tap classes.
Around 100 boys are taught by male instructors in all-boys classes. Photo by Angela Weir Photography.
Should you catch yourself swaying to the music as you watch your kids dance, don't worry—DDF has drop-in adults classes, too. How about starting the day with a Zumba class in the morning, or forego the burger and fries, and go during lunch? Try their new offerings—Cardio Hip Hop after work, or their core-centric BodyBlast class. Or, take the popular Dance Workout class with Larsen, who is also the founding principal of DDF's sister school in Sydney, Australia—the Jazz Factory.
Hanne leads a Dance Workout class, the adult version of their kids' jazz/hip hop fusion class. Photo by Downtown Dance Factory.
There are many wonderful choices for you and your little dancers—whether they prefer ballet, or breakdancing. And, as DDF continues to grow and evolve, Larsen shared that there's more in the works. It'll be interesting to see what they unveil next.