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Best Casual Art Classes In The Bay Area

Looking to find ways to bring out your inner artist, but not sure where to start? The San Francisco Bay Area offers a tantalizing array of casual classes ranging from improvisation and dancing to acting and clowning. Whether you're looking to don a red clown nose, jazz shoes or paint brushes, the Bay Area is sure to have the perfect outlet to unleash your creative side.

Regina, the dean at BATS located in Fort Mason, described the organization's confidence-building foundation as one in which improvisation artists teach creative thinking, spontaneity and trust with group games and exercises.

Improv off-stage courses include classes for shy people, singles, caregivers, teachers and facilitators. In fact, if you have your own idea for a workshop concentration, be sure to let BATS know and they may end up including it on their schedule.

American Conservatory Theater hosts acting, voice, improv, dialect and movement workshops in five or 10-week courses. Come here to participate in a variety of classes, ranging from clowning and dance theater to voice and speech.

Christina Lewis teaches willing participants with an itch to scratch their funny bones the art of becoming a clown at her weekend workshops. Her website claims that "inside of everyone lives a ridiculous character just 'dying' to get out," and through comedy and improvisation, she hopes to help participants find their inner ridiculousness.

Formerly the San Francisco School of Circus Arts, the Circus Center features classes that are all about acrobatics, aerial arts and juggling. Many of the Circus Center's classes are not for those with a fear of heights, as participants can expect to be working with straps, ropes, hoops and flying trapezes.

(credit: Cindy Warner)

Ashkenaz presents concerts, music and dance classes all rooted in cultural traditions from around the globe. If you love New Orleans and always wanted to try Cajun and zydeco dancing, this Berkeley dance center is for you. Zydeco Flames, a local band, performs at Ashkenaz, so you don't have to wait for the Sacramento Jazz Festival to groove to their music.

The center also offers a tantalizing world of casual dance exposure with some teachers who allow drop-ins. The offerings include lessons in more popular forms of dance such as samba and classical, to more exotic forms like Afro-Brazilian and advanced Balkan.

See current workshops

At BandWorks School of Rock, music students are banded together according to skill level, then matched with a seasoned professional musician and teacher who helps them practice their set for a live performance at a local concert venue. The school offers workshops, summer camps and private lessons.

This ballet studio offers more than its name lets on. At the Alonzo King Lines Ballet school, students can also learn jazz, Flamenco, belly dance, hip hop, floor barre, jazz fusion and Zumba.  Intense, year-round programs as well as five-day workshops for various age groups are also offered.

Need some inspiration? Check out some of the best art galleries in San Francisco to see your competition. 

Cindy Warner is a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on

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