The teachers of Dance Factory lead students of all levels through ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, acrobatics, pointe, and contemporary dance instruction during their year-round sessions. In addition to teaching students the proper technical skills, the instructors seek to instill good habits and character traits in their students.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Debbie Coury was a child when she began dancing at Yvette Dance Studio. The passion cultivated in that community-focused studio catapulted her career, as she went on to dance on Broadway and in Atlantic City. Though she had a taste for the glamour of a big production, she was thrilled to return back to Yvette studio, which began as a focused training program in 1954, as head instructor. She has recruited professional dancers and certified-fitness instructors, along with guest Broadway dancers and choreographers to train children aged 3 or older and adults alike in dance fundamentals. Whether classical and barre ballet, tap, or jazz-funk hip-hop, they frequently incorporate character and lyrical work to familiarize students with all the elements of performing onstage and stomping out Morse-code commands to the band conductor.
In lieu of recitals, instructors dance alongside their youngest students in dance demonstrations, where students show their parents what they've learned without the pressure of performance or lights and makeup. Older children work out new techniques in front of judges for regular testing and receive specific feedback to foster a sense of accomplishment. With instruction spanning nearly 60 years, many former dancers now bring their own children to studio classes held in the original private home, a building that now hosts three private studios. Additionally, many former dancers have employed their movement skills to join companies such as the Rockettes, Alvin Ailey, and Geoffrey Ballet.
A dancer since age 6, Dasha Sushko founded Ballroom Dream in 2011 after a successful professional dance career in both Russia and the United States. She and her instructors teach fledgling dancers at ballroom, Latin, and swing classes inside Ballroom Dream’s 4,000-square-foot facility, which features a floating hardwood dance floor. Mirrors help students assess their form during group or private lessons, and on every first and third Friday and fourth Saturday of the month, the studio turns up its professional-grade sound system to let students flaunt their newfound form during social dances. Classes are open to adults as well as kids, who discover dance basics during entertaining classes that help expend youthful energy faster than a feverish baseball-card trading session.
When choreographer and director Graham Lustig founded his studio in 2010, he did so with a mission: to inspire a love of dance throughout New Jersey. To that end, Lustig Dance Theatre's company performs across the state while a core group of teachers stays behind to offer education and outreach to future ballet stars. Yet seen in both of the Theatre's halves is a focus on innovation, most apparently in its resolve to support vibrant, forward-thinking new works.