Published: March 17, 2023
Uchino Dance School is a long-established temple to the terpsichorean art, founded by two of Japan’s highest-ranking practitioners, Mr. Norio and Mrs. Noriko Suzuki. On a recent spring afternoon, we dropped into their expansive studio for a brief chat.
Located just four minutes’ walk north of Kameido station on the left side of Meiji Street, Uchino Dance School is accessed via an entranceway and stairs that lead up to a reception area set in a surprisingly large room.
As performers Mr and Mrs Uchino reached the highest level possible, the Japan Ballroom Dance Federation A rank. They spent some 15 years living overseas, mainly in London, and competed in ballroom dance competitions all over the world. They opened Uchino Dance School in 2008, while they were still competing professionally and travelling abroad. After retiring they became judges, again reaching the A rank. They look fabulous in this shot, and ballroom dancing is clearly exceptionally good for one’s health and posture as they still look trim and elegant today.
The sparkling dance floor itself is nearly 250 square metres, while the entire school, including the reception area, changing room and offices totals 330 square metres. There’s no fear of bumping into another couple on the floor at Uchino Dance School!
“Many of our students are very long running, having been supporters when we were competing as professionals, and then attending the school when we opened” explained Ms. Uchino. Regular lessons are classified as basic or intermediate level, while classes are either individual, for couples or groups.
Although most classes are for standard dances like the waltz, tango, slow foxtrot, and quickstep, the Uchinos also teach Latin American dances such as rhumba, cha cha cha, samba, paso doble, and mambo.
One interesting aspect of Uchino Dance School is that they offer classes for only men and only women. As Ms. Uchino explained, “Many older men and women, especially beginners, feel nervous or embarrassed about dancing with a partner for what may be the first time ever, or the first time in many years. Our single sex classes are designed to help them overcome that bashfulness or awkwardness and become used to dancing with a partner.”
Fees are very reasonable considering the Uchinos glittering career as top class dancers. For beginners there are trial lesson ticket sets which start at 3,500 yen for one 25 minute class, five tickets are 16,250 yen, while eight are 24,000 yen. The latter two sets are valid for two months.
Aside from beginners classes, the individual, couples and group classes also employ the ticket system.
Individual lockers for shoes or other items are available, while the changing rooms are located at the rear of the room down a corridor.
Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand, why not take the opportunity to dance with highly experienced, top class dance teachers. Just call or drop in to the studio to arrange a trial lesson!
by Stephen Spencer