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Leisure: Best Ballet Classes

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Zvi Gotheiner (550 Broadway, near Prince Street; 925-1466) is a ballet humanist. Fifteen years of teaching hasn't erased the pain of his dancing days with the Feld Ballet and the Bat-Sheva Dance Company. "I'm trying a different approach for ballet from my bad experience of being more or less abused," he says. "It can be humane. It can be supportive." Gotheiner attracts students who reject the anatomical freakishness of the old school; class is filled with dancers who range from dedicated hobbyists and retirees to pros. David Leventhal, a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, says, "It's challenging, but in a way that is actually a working environment."

Regulars at Steps (2121 Broadway, at 74th Street; 874-2410) include Mikhail Baryshnikov and Alessandra Ferri as well as a superhuman assortment of City Ballet kids. Neophytes should avoid the morning ballet classes and check out the less masochistic range of offerings not marked "advanced." Steps packs its seven studios with all levels of ballet, modern, tap, hip-hop, swing, flamenco, tango, floor barre, and jazz classes. The place buzzes with productivity, and dressing-room chatter tends toward wide-eyed anecdotes about touring with Cats.


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