New Kid on the Block: Dance with Miss Rachel

Rachel Cantor taught dance to kids in Tribeca for three years, and then she took a sort of gap year from the neighborhood, holding classes throughout the city. She was gearing up to open her own business, Dance with Miss Rachel, in the downstairs level of Reade Street Prep’s original location. As the time approached to accept reservations, she wondered if her Tribeca following would still exist. “It was even better than I thought it would be!” she says. “We haven’t even opened yet”—that happened on Monday—”and we have 170 kids signed up. Nine of the classes have waitlists!”

Each of the classes—ballet, musical theater, and boys’ only, for kids from 18 months to 7 years old—has two instructors and a pianist. “We’re all BFAs,” says Rachel, who toured widely in Les Misérables. “And all classes are sung. So every dancer might choose an animal puppet and while we sing, ‘We’re on our way to the petting zoo!‘ each dancer secretly chooses an animal puppet from the Zoologist (our pianist) and uses their dancing moves to show the rest of the class which animal they chose. And we all guess! Or they might get princess wands, and we’ll sing, ‘We’re going to the ballet…‘.” Rachel and her team write the songs, except for in the musical theater class. “Every month we focus on one musical, and then we create our own version of the show for the grown-ups. Right now, we’re working on a new version of Annie.”

The space is adorable, with a classic dance-studio area (brick wall, mirrors) and a “stage” for “special dancing” with a whimsical trompe l’oeil mural by Mike Harrison and a butterfly mobile. “It has been amazing to watch kids’ eyes light up when they walk in and see it. I can’t tell you how many children have tried to swing on the swing.”

The room behind the stage is home to a parents’ lounge with a siblings’ play area, including a monitor showing the action next door, so parents and caregivers can watch without getting all Dance Moms on the kids. “We take pride in being a community,” says Rachel. “We know every mom, every nanny, every sibling.”

The fall session goes through Dec. 20, with the winter/spring session (when Mommy & Me classes will be added) kicking off in January. Dance with Miss Rachel also hosts birthday parties and camps during school breaks.

Dance with Miss Rachel is at 104 Reade (between W. Broadway and Church), 646-434-8150; dancewithmissrachel.com.

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