Movement Research (296 Elizabeth Street; 539-2611) has never outgrown the era when artists really did live in SoHo. This engine of the downtown dance scene provides classes, workshops, free Monday-night performances, and an award-winning lecture series. The curriculum is defined by a commitment to elbow grease and experimentation; the main draw is the artists themselves, who make work for venues like Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church and P.S. 122.
Another approach is to strap on a little Lycra and head to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (211 West 61st Street; 767-0590), where kids as well as adults sweat their way through a variety of modern-dance techniques, West African dance, Spanish dance, classical Indian dance, yoga, tap, jazz, and classical ballet. The school perpetuates the stylistic diversity of Alvin Ailey's vision, and classes cater to beginners as well as professionals. Desmond Richardson, now on Broadway in Fosse, endorses his Ailey roots. "I started as a street dancer, popping and locking and all that," he explains. "I always had these teachers that said, 'Never forget from whence you came.' Just because you're learning one thing doesn't mean you have to let go of another."