Dancing for Beginners: What Can I Expect at My First Lesson?

dance class

Ready to give a “dancing for beginners” class a shot? Here, teacher Liz T. shares what to expect, and how to set yourself up for success…


So you’ve signed up for your first dance class – excellent! Whether you are pursuing ballet, jazz, tap, modern, ballroom, salsa, or Zumba, here are some things to expect at your first lesson and tips to help you succeed in your dance training!

Decide Between Private Lessons or Group Lessons

Some dance classes, such as ballet, jazz, and tap, could have anywhere from 10-20 students in the dance room, all learning from one teacher. When you’re in one of these larger dance classes, as opposed to a one-on-one dance lesson, you must be able to learn in a group setting. If you are short, try to get a space in the front so you can see the instructor clearly; you don’t want to be doing the steps wrong because you were standing in the back and couldn’t see the teacher!

If you’d rather learn in a more one-on-one setting, or perhaps with just a partner and your teacher, many teachers offer private dance lessons. Do your research before you book your class, and decide what fits you best!

Expect Fast-Paced Lessons

Most dance classes range from 45 minutes to two hours, and there is so much to learn in so little time! The dance class will likely be fast-paced, usually starting with a warm-up, bar work, floor routines, and then working on a choreographed dance. At first, this may be overwhelming, but do your best at staying focused in the class, and try to pick up all the choreography as best you can. If you can’t get it the first time, don’t worry about it; this will happen over time, and that’s why you are taking dance classes! But just be prepared that the class may move very fast.

Be Open to Learning New Things

A lot of new dance moves and terminology (mostly in French for ballet training) will be thrown at you all at once. This may be intimidating and uncomfortable at first, but if you go in with an open mind, willing to try it, then you will succeed! If you are negative and say “I will never be able to dance like that” or “I can’t do this step” then you never will be able to. Instead, stay positive and be open to learning the new steps. You don’t have to be perfect or a Master of Dance; the point is to learn, have fun, and just give it your best! You never know until you try!

Set Your Own Personal Goals

In any given “dancing for beginners” class, there will be other dancers with all types of backgrounds. Don’t compare yourself to others in the class, although I’ll admit it is hard not to do. Set some goals for yourself personally, and don’t compare your progress to another student’s. We all have different learning techniques and paces. Set targets and realistic goals for yourself, whether that’s to be able to perform the combination at an upcoming recital, or to work on a split, or be on pointe at the end of the semester! Set goals that you can look forward to, and put in your best effort during each class!

LizTLiz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!



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9 replies
  1. Paul Langley
    Paul Langley says:

    These are some really great tips for anyone interested in taking dance lessons! I was really nervous when my wife told me she wanted us to take dance lessons together, but after doing some research and preparing for the pace, I actually had a lot of fun. We’ve been going to weekly lessons for three months now and I’m usually more excited than she is. Thanks so much for writing!

  2. Mellissa Stewart
    Mellissa Stewart says:

    Do you have to do freestyle in dance classes? If so, when will they make you? Surely, when you’re not a beginner, right?

    • Jessica Dais
      Jessica Dais says:

      Hi Melissa! Most dance classes will not have you freestyle as a beginner. You will likely be working on some choreographed moves with the help of your teacher. Hope that helps! 🙂

  3. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are thinking about taking a dance class together but we aren’t sure what to expect. I like that you mention how classes are fast paced so you should do your best to pay attention. We’ll be ready for all the physical work and do our best at keeping up. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Taylor Bishop
    Taylor Bishop says:

    Thanks for helping me know what to plan for in the first dance lesson. I didn’t know that some dance classes could be two hours long but still be fast-paced. I wonder if the type of dance could affect how long a session is, or if it doesn’t necessarily matter.

  5. Marc
    Marc says:

    Thanks a lot for mentioning how you should take the time to set goals for yourself when choosing the best dance classes. It is important to remember that doing some research and understand what you want to get out of your own dance classes can help you get the results you need. We are planning on enrolling our little girls in some dance classes, so I’m glad I found your page.

  6. Monica Chavez
    Monica Chavez says:

    Thanks for pointing out that a lot of new dance moves and terminology will be thrown at you at once, so you have to have an open mind. My best friend is getting married at the end of the summer, and she and her fiance want to have a really beautiful, memorable first dance. I think it would be really helpful if they could go to dance lessons and learn all the terminology and how to dance gracefully with each other. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Emily Scott
    Emily Scott says:

    If you want to really learn the dance, I recommend getting the private lesson. If you wanna socialize while dancing, the group lesson is the way to go.


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