Shanghai's top adult classes

Learn tap dancing, acting, Chinese painting, photography and more

Tap dancing show
The Expat Learning Center may have closed, but there are still loads of great adult classes available in the city, including tap dancing, acting, Chinese paining, photography and more. Time Out pick some of the highlights

Take up tap dancing

What On Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 August the highly-rated Dance Studio 5 is holding a weekend of free classes so people can test the waters before deciding whether to take the plunge. One style that has been popular at the studio recently is tap dancing, as it’s hard to find tap classes elsewhere in the city. They hold sessions for kids, adults, newcomers and those who are already proficient in tapping.
They say ‘My classes are energetic, fun, loud (because of the taps), and there is a sense of trust and community. It’s important for me to use dance as a tool to get people to loosen up, drop their stress, and learn to play again’ – Corine Englander, Dance Studio 5 co-founder and teacher.
When Tap classes take place Mondays 6-7pm for beginners, Mondays 7-8pm for intermediate/advanced and Tuesdays 5-6pm for kids (email for booking and confirmation of times).
Where Room 205, Mingyuan Art Center, Bldg A, 1199 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu (6260 5240;
Cost 150RMB/one class; 750RMB/five; 1,300RMB/10; 3,000RMB/three months unlimited; 5,000RMB/five months unlimited.

Learn how to act

What A course in acting for amateurs and beginners from theatre production company Urban Aphrodite. Participants will learn things like improvisation, vocal skills, stage movement, comedy and dramatic acting. There will also be a showcase performance for the final session, where those taking part can show off their new skills to friends, family and invited industry figures.
They say ‘The goal is to reach out to beginners in the hope that some will pursue acting in a more in-depth way in the future. Actor Sean Coyle, for example, was a student in one of my classes through the now-defunct Expat Learning Center and he got a lead role in Urban Aphrodite International’s production Doubt’ – Ann James, Urban Aphrodite executive director.
When Every Tuesday evening from September 16 to November 4.
Where Sasha’s, 5 Hengshan Lu, near Dongping Lu (137 6462 9212; See full address details
Cost 2,500RMB for the whole course.

Master Chinese painting

What As part of what they term their ‘cultural engagement’ lessons, Shanghai-based language school This Is Mandarin offers classes in traditional Chinese painting. Hosted by art teachers from local universities, the classes start with in-depth history lessons about the various styles of Chinese art, ranging from inkworks to landscape painting, before students (six per class) get to have a go themselves, repeating an agreed upon design to hone skills under expert supervision, with support and advice from the experts. 
They say ‘Our teachers introduce the knowledge of Chinese painting using PowerPoint slides which touch on the history, types, characteristics, tools and famous painters. Then we teach students to draw animals, birds, fishes, plants, flowers, people and mountains – the teacher chooses three or four topics according to students’ requests’ – Rose Xu, organiser.
When Tba – call or email for latest schedules.
Where 15th Floor, 2088 Huashan Lu, near Guangyuan Lu (138 1841 5070;; Room 9C, 775 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Ruijin Lu, Huangpu district (see contact details above). 
Cost 160RMB for a two-hour session.

Become a magical maestro


What Found in Hongkou Plaza, the 90°Magic House offers classes for the aspiring illusionist, with tricks including a disappearing towel routine and making toys appear on people’s hands. Classes are held in Mandarin, so go with a friend who can speak the language if you can’t. The course is helmed by Tang Wenjun, who formed 90°Magic House in 2006 and also teaches around schools in Shanghai.
They say ‘We not only teach [students] how to perform tricks, but also how to communicate with the audience and arouse their interest. We put an emphasis on improving students’ communication skills’ – Tang Wenjun, chief instructor.
When Dates vary according to students’ needs. The school is open 9am-10pm daily and classes last for about 45 minutes.
Where 3rd Floor, Hongkou Plaza, 388 Xi Jiangwan Lu, near Sichuan Bei Lu (189 1737 3781; 
Cost 698RMB gets you a basic stage tricks course with at least eight tricks. 5,000RMB gets you 30 hours of training for a minimum of 20 tricks, including learning stage magic tricks and close-up routines.

Learn photo basics by snapping around town…

What Shanghai has got to be one of the most photo-friendly cities in the world, and to stress this, learning course company Shanghai Flaneur regularly run Snapshot Shanghai – Stroll and See!: a walk-around guide to making the most of your camera on the streets. Participants don’t need expensive cameras – it’s a beginner-friendly affair, hosted by Yolanda vom Hagen, who also runs her own private courses.
They say ‘For my private classes I teach about picture aesthetics, what makes a good picture, lighting, skills in conceptual photography; I can also teach basic picture editing skills’ – Yolanda vom Hagen, photographer. 
When The latest Shanghai Flaneur walk details were yet to be finalised as we went to press – email or call 3428 2101 for more information, including location plan and pricing. 
Cost Vom Hagen’s private classes cost 300RMB/hour – call 136 019 47647 for more details.

…Or hone your photo skills to perfection


Having taught for nine years at the recently-closed Expat Learning Center, talented photographer Franc Peret is launching his own series of classes in October. He’ll be teaching an advanced photography class which covers both outdoor and portrait shooting – check out from early September or email for more details on the class schedules.
They say ‘This class is designed for you to discover how extreme and diverse your camera can be. Your camera will no longer be the centre of the teaching, as light setup, composition and imagination are going to take over’ – Franc Peret, photographer.
When Starting in early October, the course will last for ten weeks, with a two-and-a-half-hour session each week (exact timing to be confirmed).
Where Tba.
Cost 4,300RMB (includes fee for course materials).

DJ like a pro

What MAD Skillz DJ Workshops: classes in DJing and turntablism from Reggie Geldenhuys, aka Vers@ile, who has DJed around the world. Students can use both CDJs and vinyl, with more advanced lessons in scratching offered for DJs who are a bit more ‘Oakenfold’ in standard already. A strong alternative would be one of the DJ styles taught at the Shanghai DJ school (see
They say ‘I started my own DJ school after seeing what others offer: mainly only mixing house, pop and electro music on CDJs. As I love turntablism and several different genres of music, I knew there were others out there who would want to learn more than just to be able to play at an average club’ – Reggie Vers@ile, DJ.
When Email or call 138 1860 0544 to sort a time.
Where Email for full details.
Cost 250RMB/hour, with an hour free if you buy ten up front.

Hear storytelling secrets

What Brian Wang, a counsellor and consultant, is hosting a new storytelling course designed to boost confidence and prepare people for public speaking. Participants will be encouraged to develop their life stories and the course will end with a performance in front of a live audience.
They say ‘The skills you learn from storytelling apply to your life in every facet. Being able to tell a cohesive, engaging personal story will help you in making a strong impression during first dates, job interviews, school applications and networking events’ – Brian Wang, course leader.
When Every Monday, 7-9.30pm, from September 1-October 27.
Where Room 15F, 123 Jiangsu Lu, near Wuding Lu (152 0198 6886; 
Cost 6,000RMB.

Discover how to make quality Italian coffee


What Cosy Changning spot Punk Coffee offers various coffee classes, including an Italian coffee lesson that educates customers about how to make the perfect brew, from nailing milk foam to selecting beans. The class focuses on espresso and cappuccino, with international coffee judges often invited to give talks.
They say ‘If you are interested in coffee making, you can become a coffee master here. We let students get busy with their hands, teaching them what the function of each utensil is and how to use them. Many students like the cappuccino art very much’ – Roy Zou, chief instructor.
When Classes take place every Monday, with each class lasting three hours. There’s a two-week waiting list so book early.
Where 425 Zhenning Lu, near Yuyuan Lu (189 6263 2587;
Cost 3,000RMB (including coffee, other materials and textbooks).

Get great at creating crêpes

What Italian chef Dani Ingrosso hosts various Italian food classes, and on Sunday 10 will be taking a crêpes class (crêpes, originally French, have been integrated into Italian cuisine). She’ll be teaching how to make a savoury crêpe with spinach and ricotta in béchamel sauce, plus a sweet Nutella and banana option.
They say ‘We will learn how to prepare the basic recipe for making crêpes, which we will then use to make a savoury main dish and a sweet one. I grew up cooking with my grandmother in the south of Italy; she passed me her love, passion and family culinary secrets’ – Dani Ingrosso, chef. 
When tba.
Where Email for bookings.
Cost 280RMB.