FREE African Dance Classes

Update: Please visit for an updated list of African Dance classes in the NYC area.

The people that I dance with are addicted to dancing. So what do you do when your addiction is running you upwards of $100 per week? You find alternatives. There really is no excuse for anyone not being able to dance…So here is a rundown of free classes in the New York City area. I know this isn’t a complete list, but these are the ones I frequent:

Free African Dance Classes: Updated

6:00p-7:30p Nafisa @ Countee Cullen – African (PS194) at 242 W. 144th Street, bt. 7th & 8th Avenues) (212) 234-4500

7:00p-9:00p Crystal at PS 198- Corner of 96th St. and 3rd Ave.

Harlem Children’s Zone
35 East 125th Street (125th & Madison)
New York, NY 10035
Phone: (212) 534-0700

Tuesday (Fall/Winter/Spring Only)
Esther – African
Wadleigh High School (114th bet. Fredrick Douglas & Adam Clayton)

6:00p-7:30p Nafisa @ Countee Cullen – African (PS194) at 242 W. 144th Street, bt. 7th & 8th Avenues) (212) 234-4500

Thursday (Fall Only)
Esther – African
Wadleigh High School (114th bet. Fredrick Douglas & Adam Clayton) Harlem, NYC

2:00 – 3:30PM
booker t. washington middle school (in the gym)
103 west 108th street (107th street entrance)
between columbus and amsterdam
2:00-4:00p Sister Sewaa
Djembe, Kutiro, Sabar
Come early for registration.[Unregistered participants should arrive 10-15 minutes earlier. ID-a must!! ] (P.S. 181 1023 New York Ave, bet Tilden Ave and Snyder Aves, Brooklyn)
718 703 3633 (Thanks Ms. Sete!)





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  1. good to know! which one do you recommend?

    (p.s. linked to your blog!)

  2. thnx for the link! I recommend Sandella’s class on Friday. It’s really good because it’s fast, so it forces you to pay attention, and it gets your stamina up. I love it!

  3. Rene

    The Saturday class (at PS 181) you suggested is GREAT!!!
    They switch it up, so guest teachers come in from time to time and the teachers provide great technique.
    Love it!!
    Thanks so much for this list.

  4. Anonymous

    I am so excited for this list. I agree w/ Rene. I too really love the Saturday class at P.S. 181 w/ Sister Seewa. It is a great place to learn dance technique from continental as well as Diasporic Africans who are well versed, enthusiastic, and autenthic in their teaching. Plus…the class will work you out to the max!!

  5. I’m so glad you guys like it. I really wanted to help spread the word about these amazing classes, especially if you want to get healthy, and work out–but don’t have alot of money to take a class.

  6. Anonymous

    Hello!!! Has anyone taken a class instructed by Nafisa at Wadleigh High School?? How are her classes? How is it structured??

  7. Nafisa teaches at countee cullen on 144th st. She starts with meditation, then goes into a warm up. She then talks about the dance for the day, and the class sings a song. Then we do choreography, followed by exercises across the floor. We then come back to the middle of the floor to do the choreography we’ve learned in the beginning of the class. Finally the class ends with meditation. Open Level. The Monday class is geared more toward beginners.

    Esther’s class begins with a warm-up, then she shows a brief choreography, followed by exercises across the floor. Open Level btoken into children, beginners, intermediate, advanced, super-advanced, and men.

  8. Anonymous

    Thank You!!!!!

  9. i’ve been meaning and meaning and meaning to come and take a class or two ror FIVE and always manage to get sidetracked and not make it. but i will make point to be there on monday!

  10. I love african dance, its tribal, its primative and its natural. It allows people to get in touch with their true selves. We must never forget our roots.

  11. Anonymous

    thanx for sharing this list!

  12. Anonymous

    Hello and thanks for sharing this list! Just a quick question is Sandella the young lady who does the performances at the African Street festival? If so, she is a great teacher and dancer.

    I better go buy my danceskins and skirts and get ready to dance tot he drum, LOL.

  13. Oh wow…it’s great to see Nafisa is till teaching dance. I’m a 27yr. old female who took her class back in ’99 for a gym credit. It was awesome. I can’t wait to start her Monday sessions.

  14. Anonymous


  15. I don’t believe that these teachers have an open class at any local colleges, but I can ask. I do know that Maguette Camera teaches an African dance class at Columbia University, but it may only be open to Columbia students.

  16. Greetings! I’m visiting NYC Monday-Wed. and want to take an African Dance class while I’m visiting my fam. Someone suggested Sister Esther’s class on Tuesday. Have you ever been and what’s the pace like? Thanks!!!!! Oh and great blog by the way!

  17. hi is there a free dance class for thursday afternoonevenings?

  18. @Tranquility: Yes, Esther teaches her class at Wadleigh High School on Tuesdays and Thursday during the school season. Check out the list for details

  19. Has anyone taken Chystals class at PS 198 on 96th Street?

  20. Thank you so much for posting this list. I took classes with Esther a few years ago, then life got in the way of dancing. Now that I am able to resume I am so happy that Esther is still teaching.

  21. Which class would you recommend for a beginner?

  22. I am happy you posted this list of free classes. As I was searching for classes I found they either had start dates that I could not meet for a fee or an open class for $18/class. I have never done african dance classes before, what type of clothes/shoes do you recommend?

  23. Hey Jilly, It's been a long time since I updated this list, so many of the classes have changed and unfortunately many aren't offered any more. I would recommend visiting for updated information on classes. For classes I would recommend a pair of yoga pants, and a breathable shirt, like a dashiki. As you get more comfortable, you can dress it up with a sarong, or a more traditional African ankara print wrap, called a lapa.

  24. Anonymous

    Is this for Oct.2011???

  25. Anonymous

    Do you know of any free dance classes in Brooklyn? I love to dance and if I could just find free classes and events near me, then I would be more motivated to attend. Thanks…

  26. You should really check out for an up to date list of free African dance classes as well as paid classes. I wrote this post in 2006, so alot has changed!

  27. Anonymous

    Are any of the classes modern African dance classes w/ music (i.e. P-square, Davido, D'banj, Wande Coal…) and dance (Azonto)? Or are they all traditional?

  28. @ Anonymous 10:01pm Most of the free classes have live music. Very rarely is there recorded ,music unless there is a major conference in town. Here is a great resources to find AFrican dance classes (not all are free)

  29. If you wanna take a zumba, African , hip hop heels ,contemporary and hip hop. DANCE SWEAT & Tears has a great dance program.Ages 16 and up. Located at Nola Studios 244 west 54th street bet 8th &Broadway 10th floor.This is free promos classes 4/10 @6pm-pm. Go and dance!

  30. There is free promo dance classes. DANCE SWEAT & TEARS has Hip hop heels, contemporary, african, zumba, hip hop classes ages 16 and up. Located at Nola Studios on 244 west 54th street bet 8th and broadway 11th floor. Find out more at Let's get it.

  31. Anonymous

    Thank you for this info!!!

  32. This sounds like it would be a ton of fun! I always love learning different styles of dance. I've got to say; African dancing is not something I have even thought about before. I wonder if I can find anything in my area!

  33. Anonymous

    Im kinda looking for something new to do, get out my comfort zone and meet and do different things and since I love dancing( mostly hip hop) I would love to consider one of those classes but since im new what will b e the best fit for me like a beginners class?

  34. I first posted this in 2006. Alot has changed since then. Your best bet is to go to ALvin Ailey, pay for a class, and then ask around to find out where the free classes are. Sandella still teaches on Friday nights on 135th St.

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