By Michael Ying
Filled to the brim with shopping, food, nightlife and the like, it is no surprise that Shibuya is also bountiful with dance studios of all genres. A studio that has gained worldwide recognition in recent years is En Dance Studio. With two studios and classes running throughout the entire week, dance enthusiasts of all ages can groove to the beat in the heart of Shibuya.
Centrally located on opposite sides of the Hachiko exit, each studio has its own regular schedule, but make sure to check En’s social media for any cancellations or special workshops. Before entering either building, the sound of lively hip-hop music will fill your ears and pump you up for class. Upon entering, teachers’ voices counting beats, the sound of shoes against the marley floors, and stylish dancers breaking outside studios produce a young and energetic vibe. Each studio is very open and has windows allowing any passersby to sneak a peek in on a session. Lockers and changing rooms are provided.
En’s primary focus is hip-hop, from femme to swag, but several jazz classes are held throughout the week. The most popular classes are usually later at night (the studios are often open until 11:00pm or midnight) and are taught by members of the four-person group known as ‘sh**t kingz’. Choreographers worldwide such as Keone and Mariel Madrid often hold workshops various times during the year, but it's best to reserve a spot as early as the international teachers are quite popular. Classes for beginners are marked on the schedule with a yellow and green flag, and some classes specifically for children are available.
While some may be cautious about taking class taught in Japanese, as dance is a visual and auditory art, following along with the teacher is no problem. Classes start with a thorough warm up, continue with basic exercises such as isolations and grooves, and finish with the day’s choreography. Explanations are clear and teachers often encourage for dancers to clarify movement or go over a section. After carefully going over the choreography, students are split into three groups. The last twenty minutes of class are to practice and showcase what they’re learned. Often times when select groups are chosen, they are also filmed with the end result to be uploaded onto En’s YouTube channel. You’re guaranteed to have fun and get a great workout while trying out Japanese hip-hop style.
Taking a single class will set you back ¥3000 yen, but various offers are available for both first timers and more avid dancers. For those with Japanese language skills, filling out an online application for a trial lesson before visiting the studio in person will only cost a little more than a thousand yen. It might be possible to request a trial lesson in person, but not every receptionist speaks English. If aiming to really hone your dance skills while staying in Japan, En has a nice set of class packages ranging from four classes, eight classes, to “all you can dance for a week” at either one of the studios starting from about ¥10000. The last option is the best deal for dancers who plan to train and take several classes a day. Workshop prices vary. For those further away from Tokyo, check their website for other studio locations such as Yokohama.
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