Wellness

Easy online dance tutorials to help you master new moves — no matter your experience level

For exercise, Friday night fun at home, or to prepare for your eventual return to the floor!

For exercise, Friday night fun at home, or to prepare for your eventual return to the floor!

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

American modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once said, "Dance is the hidden language of the soul." 

It's one of the most basic forms of human expression. Dance comes so naturally to us humans, in fact, that infants start rhythmically moving to music before they even learn how to walk. In adults, research has found that rhythmic movements and free flow can enhance happiness. Amateur dancing has also been reported to have a positive influence on self-esteem and social relations and to be a significant coping strategy for daily stress and difficult times.

So if you find yourself regularly bopping along to songs or attempting every new TikTok dance, take it up a notch and let your body guide you into new forms of expression. With so many online dance classes available, it's easy to explore different kinds and find your favourites. We've rounded up tutorials for 10 styles of dance to get you started — as well as some paid classes if you'd like to connect with others and get live instruction.

Before you begin, a few safety tips to consider: ensure you have enough clutter-free space so you can move around without bumping into anything or tripping; wear appropriate footwear for your flooring, especially if your floors are slippery; and lastly, as with all forms of exercise, ensure you warm up first and go at your own pace to prevent injury.

Pop choreography

We've all been there: watching pop stars in music videos and wishing we had their moves — and now you can. Pop choreography isn't a style of dance per se — in fact it incorporates many of the ones you'll find in the list below — but it's a fantastic way to jump into movement and be re-enlivened by your favourite songs, old and new. Mihran Kirakosian's YouTube channel has dozens of easy-to-follow tutorials to choose from. Get started on a kid-friendly Ariana Grande dance or a JT throwback, dance along with the Biebs to DJ Khaled's Popstar (intermediate level), or master classic moves like the moonwalk and body wave.

Hip hop

Hip-hop dance emerged out of the larger hip-hop culture created by Black Americans in New York in the late 1970s. From the Humpty Dance to the dougie, there are countless hip-hop moves to weave into your dance sesh, whether you're following along to a choreographed routine or freestyling to the latest (or old-school) tracks. Get a sense of the moves you'd like to try with this compilation of 50 plus hip-hop foundation dance steps — or jump right into it with a full class like this tutorial by dance instructor Vincent Vianen to Justin Bieber's "Peaches."

Elevate your skills: for hip-hop dance classes at your fingertips, paid subscription sites like Steezy or Dance Tutorials TV provide a catalogue of recorded sessions that include breakdowns of individual steps, choreo to classic Lauryn Hill, and so much more.

Breaking

Breaking, or breakdancing, is a style of dance created by Black and Latin Americans that originated from the streets of the Bronx in the late '60s and early '70s and developed out of the hip-hop movement. If you've ever witnessed a break battle, you won't soon forget the mesmerizing, energetic spectacle, so it's no wonder this dance style has become popular worldwide — the International Olympic Committee has even approved it as a sport in the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

While we're counting down to that, there's time to perfect some break moves. Bonita Saldaña, aka Bgirl Bonita, starts beginners with the toprock before getting into the floor-work that's typical of breaking, like the spin down, six-step and baby freeze. It's fun for kids to do too!

Ballet

Dancer and choreographer Auti Kamal, aka Miss Auti, introduces newbies to ballet through basic moves, including foot positions, pliés, jumps and turns (complete with a separate instructional on how to properly spot so you don't get dizzy). Her dance tutorials are a beginner's dream: with her positive energy and an approach that's easy to follow and well-paced, her years of experience teaching people of all ages really shines through.

Elevate your skills: for those looking for more serious instruction, the National Ballet of Canada offers premium ballet classes with top-tier instructors. Learn more about their online beginner workshop here.

Jazz

If you're unfamiliar with jazz dance, think about the moves featured in many Broadway musicals, particularly the hip rolls and jazz hands popularized by famed choreographer Bob Fosse. This style of movement is rooted in Black American social dances, the artistic expression of enslaved people, and vaudeville. It was later influenced by ballet, so you'll often find both styles taught by the same instructors or company. Miss Auti offers a great beginner jazz class, but if you'd like to start with Broadway-style instruction, try the 48-minute step-by-step beginner tutorial for Chicago's All That Jazz number. 

Elevate your skills: Harbour Dance Centre, based in Vancouver, offers plenty of jazz classes from cabaret jazz to jazz funk. Try one of their live daily online classes through their app.

Swing 

A type of jazz social dance, swing definitely deserves its own category given its many different variations and styles, such as the Lindy hop, East Coast swing and Charleston, to name a select few. There's nothing quite like watching this fast-paced partnered dance in action. Swing dancing is typically done with a partner, but if you're dancing solo, you can still try out the footwork and brush up on your technique with iLindy's basic tutorials.

Salsa and bachata

Grab a partner and tune into the rhythm of salsa — a partnered Latin American dance with footwork that's fun to practice solo as a beginner as well. 

The Bachata Dance Academy also offers tutorials on bachata, a style of Latin American dance originating from the Dominican Republic. Get started by learning bachata footwork here or if you have a dance partner ready to go, these beginner tutorials make for a fun activity.

Elevate your skills: Toronto's Steps Dance Studio teaches both salsa and bachata. Attend a live class or access their dance-on-demand library of recorded classes.

Dancehall 

Dancehall is a style of both music and dance originating from Jamaica which is energetic, freeing and upbeat. Need some inspiration? Check out this compilation of dancehall moves to get you motivated, before diving into a tutorial by Jenny JC, a Toronto dancer who has been featured in Rihanna and Sean Paul music videos, among others. She'll show you how to tick tock your hips, wine and go through a beginner dancehall routine.

Elevate your skills: the Underground Dance Centre based in Toronto offers recorded dancehall classes, among other styles, with a monthly subscription.

Irish dance

Irish dancing has a long history: the Irish jig originates as far back as the 1600s. Fast-forward a few centuries later, and this dance style has become globally popular thanks in part to the phenomenon of Riverdance. There's a lot of jumping in Irish dancing, so be prepared for a workout — and a ton of fun! You'll be amazed at the fast footwork of dancer Tyler Schwartz as he teaches various Irish dance tricks and steps.

Elevate your skills: check out Joy of Dance Centre, based in Toronto, which offers virtual Irish step-dance classes taught by Mark B, who finished in the Top 20 at the World Irish Dancing Championship.

Bollywood dance

Bollywood dance is named after, you guessed it, Bollywood films, where the elaborate choreography is often featured. In the movies, whose popularity took off in India in the 1930s, actors sometimes sing or lip-synch to songs while dancing in a style that combines various forms of Indian classical and folk dance, involving specific hand gestures, facial expressions and foot movements. Over time, the form has evolved to incorporate Western dance moves as well.

Try this wonderfully fun and expressive style of dance with beginner tutorials for party moves and basic steps before moving on to paid classes.

Elevate your skills: Bollywood Dance School Canada offers 12-session online Bollywood dance programs for kids and adult beginners.


Janet Ho is a writer and hobby artist. You can follow her at @janetonpaper.

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