When Baltimore Salsa Dance Company's founder Tabitha Hitchye-Holliday isn’t at the helm of one of her daily Latin dance classes at Dance & Artistic Expressions Studio, she’s wearing her sequined performer’s costume and dancing . She’s been dividing her time between teaching, performing, and studying dance for 14 years. She puts all of this experience to use at her Catonsville studio, where she and her staff lead dance lessons in the styles of salsa, bachata, and ballet, as well as fitness programs such as Zumba. Ballet students learn the basic feet and arm positions of classical ballet and practice moves at the barre, while Zumba students burn calories through high energy movements inspired by an array of dance styles, such as salsa and merengue. Additionally, students can attend the RSVP-only weekly salsa practices, every Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. and monthly salsa parties, hosted every first and third Friday of the month.
Instructors allow students to showcase their newfound moves with fellow enthusiasts during weekly Friday practice sessions and at a monthly social on the last Friday of the month. To ensure students look their best while dancing, staffers vend performance wares such as clothing, shoes, and industry-grade rug-cutting scissors within an attached boutique. Not limited to just dance, students can partake in an array of cultural provisions, including classes in American Sign Language, Introductory Spanish, sewing, arts & crafts, tap, jazz, and barre fitness.
At Salsa Obsesión, dance students step into an environment that is as diverse as it is energetic. Sprightly instructors lead four different tiers of classes, starting with Beginner 1 sessions, which focus on such skills as counting the beats, basic footwork, and working with a partner. Subsequent class levels ramp up the difficulty, enabling students to advance their technique without having to abandon Salsa Obsesión's welcoming climate.
Erica Saben's passions have taken her near and far. She studied dance, political science, and Caribbean culture in Kingston, Jamaica, before returning to the United States to perform with several multicultural companies. A juggling gig in Philadelphia introduced her to two local circus experts who knew the director of Philadelphia School of Circus Arts. From this chance meeting blossomed a new chapter in her life: in addition to teaching her her big-top skills such as aerials and tightwire, they introduced her to Chinese acrobat Lin Junming, who would become her resident acrobatics coach when she founded Charm City Movement Arts.
Nestled between Canton and Brewer's Hill, the studio and performance space lets children and adults live the lives of professional circus performers without having to sneak into a tent disguised as a barrel of clown feed. Each instructor boasts experience in diverse movement backgrounds: Lin is also a member of the Fujian Acrobatics Troupe of China, and managing director Paco Fish has taken home awards in several Southern burlesque competitions. Other instructors draw from backgrounds in rock climbing, slacklining, acrobatics, and aerial work. Using this range of skills, they teach students the basics of Western and Chinese acrobatics, Broadway tap-dancing, modern dance, juggling, unicycling, and blends of clowning and burlesque. When not in class, staffers and students also hone their own chops as performers in seasonal dance and circus shows.
Morton Street Dance Center trains students from age 3 to adult in a barre-lined studio whose sprung floors absorb the shock of leap landings. The center’s creative movement classes develop motor skills in preschool-aged kids, then branch into diverse styles such as tap, jazz and Afro-fusion as dancers mature. To keep young minds fresh during the summer months, dance intensives take an in-depth approach to a single style, honing trained steps and graceful moves more effectively than an ostrich-riding lesson. As they improve, dancers aged 8–18 can audition for the studio’s ensembles, which showcase their unison moves at venues such as the citywide Artscape Festival and the Hippodrome Theater. Adult classes impart Afro-fusion and modern-dance techniques to movers of every level, allowing dancers to follow their passion through every stage of their lives.
Arthur Murray 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.
Tahirah Bowrey—the owner and head dancer of Creative Impulse Dance Studio—helms a team of five talented instructors that teach fleet-footed charges to step, swivel, and sway in styles ranging from hip-hop to ballet. Students of all ages match their footwork to classical refrains or pulsing, bass-heavy beats in three class levels, suited to beginner through advanced coryphées. Adults tone their bodies’ contours and learn to outmaneuver calories in sensual, cardio-infused styles such as floor- and pole dancing, and young children prepare to dazzle discerning hopscotch judges with pirouettes perfected in ballet class. Instructors hold lessons in a spacious hardwood studio flooded with natural light from tall windows and echoing with the sounds of toes tapping in unison.