By Della Hasselle
UNION SQUARE — New York's getting rhythm as a 10-day festival hosts 100 dance classes through Manhattan.
National Dance Week New York City, which kicked off Friday, gives free classes in styles including latin, ballroom, tap, ballet, swing, hip-hop, aerial acrobatics and Zumba.
Other fitness classes include yoga, Pilates and some acrobatics.
"It's really like dance for the masses," said the founder of the New York chapter of Dance Week, Tasha Norman.
"Our event is going to be about participation, it's about dance for everyone."
As a former dancer who trained at Dance Theater of Harlem and toured professionally starting at the age of 13, Norman knows a few things about the dance community in New York.
When organizing National Dance Week New York, Norman says she wanted a festival that appealed to the everyday New Yorker.
By offering free classes throughout the city, Norman says she hopes that more people will be able to discover and fall in love with various forms of dance.
"For people too embarrassed to take class, or don't know anything about dance, this is the perfect vehicle for that," Norman said. "They can explore what their bodies can do."
To facilitate a greater involvement, Norman has added a few elements this year to the seven-year-old festival. For the first time, New Yorkers can read "reviews" about the various classes offered, summarizing a run-down of the style offered and specifying if the class is beginner, advanced, or somewhere in-between.
The festival kicked off with a dance party at Union Square Bar Tuesday night. It followed a flash-dance performance in Union Square Park, in which a group of about 20 professional dancers performed styles and songs from the '20s, '50s and current trends.
"New York has such an arts culture, but it's still great to expose more unsuspecting people to dance," Brooklyn dancer Jess Loewer, 22, said about the unannounced flash mob performance. "I love this kind of thing."
"It's like a montage," dancer Tia Huston, 22, added about the performance, which also reflected the versatility of the entire festival.
"It's kind of crazy. A little bit of everything."