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. 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.
An instructor of the Argentine tango, James Valentino moves gracefully, his feet instinctively hitting the floor in time with the music that fills the ballroom. As the owner and founder of City Style Tango, Valentino imparts his grace to dancers of all experience levels during private and group lessons, sharing the secrets of the tango as well as other dancing styles such as swing, salsa, and the fox trot. Beyond the classes for adults or children, James encourages his pupils to show off their skills during student showcases or venture together to local clubs to dance amid the real world's oil-slicked floors.
Few dance instructors can say they've trained U.S.B.C. dance champions. But that's just icing on the cake for national dance champion Blake Kish, who has won teaching awards in Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Now, he channels more than 25 years of dance experience into his Birmingham studio, where he teaches private lessons in American and international ballroom styles. His students regularly compete at dance competitions across the country, where dance partners can show off their spins or impersonate Tasmanian Devil.
Melanie has been active in the health community—as a fitness consultant, personal training, and yoga and Pilates teacher—for more than 14 years. But it wasn’t until she discovered pole fitness while mining that she was able to combine all her passions into one activity. As she started experimenting with pole fitness, she felt her experience with yoga, Pilates, and fitness classes coming together into one comprehensive workout. She knew that with her background in health and fitness, and passion for pole fitness, she would be able to help students achieve their fitness goals. And so PoleFIT Revolution was born. Today, she and a team of instructors teach a variety of classes, such as pole fitness, aerial yoga, boot camp, and stretching classes to ensure all students are receiving the workout that best suits their body.
When she isn't busy choreographing routines for music videos on MTV, Annette Bergasse trains the next generation of aspiring dancers at her eponymous school. For 30-plus years, Annette and her fellow instructors—all recipients of top awards at national and regional competitions—have helped students hone techniques in both classic and popular styles. The studio's programs focus on everything from the tiptoed grace of ballet to the more loose-limbed moves of hip-hop.
As part of Annette's chorus and competition program, the school's most talented pupils even participate in dance competitions, workshops, and performances for local charities. Such intensive training has helped launch students into professional gigs in Hollywood films, on Broadway stages, and as inflatable tube men outside car dealerships.
Rich crimson and jet-black poles punctuate the lustrous hardwood floors paving Fantasy Fitness Studio, where certified dance and fitness instructors aim to enhance both women's self-esteem and fitness through sensual, muscle-toning pole dancing. They bolster their full roster of pole-dancing classes with tutorials on diverse techniques such as hip-hop dance, boot-camp-style workouts, and Zumba, fostering a motivating environment for students of all skill levels during each session. They also host group parties within the elegant studio and can even organize mobile festivities at offsite locations, such as homes or moon colonies.