At Art on Fire, a large selection of unfired pottery awaits. Customers—either there for a party or a walk-in—can browse a variety of pieces, ranging from ornaments, to jars, to mugs, before selecting one to make their own. Then, they'll adorn the piece with myriad colors, adding life with painted hues. In addition to birthday parties and events for children, the studio also offers adult-appropriate events such as ladies' night, with catering available and a BYOB policy.
Dancing and parties go hand in hand, and at Studio 44 Dance and Fitness, that’s especially true. Inside the 2,100-square-foot downtown Westport studio, artistic director Sue Benton and her team of instructors, many of whom are professional dancers, lead students of all fitness levels through easy-to-follow dance and strength-training classes. During Dance 44 sessions, students move to swing, rock-n-roll, and R&B. Unique classes include Grooveology, which gets bodies moving and shaking during easy-to-follow routines that blend techniques from street jazz, hip-hop, modern, and lyrical dance.
And while Sue heads up the dance side of Studio 44, owner Candace McCarthy helms the events side, which transforms the modern studio into an elegant space for birthdays, weddings, and creative endeavors such as photo shoots and fashion shows. With years of event-planning experience under her party hat, Candace is on hand to assist with event preparations including coordinating floral arrangements, developing creative themes, and scheduling catering services. During these soirees, guests can take advantage of Studio 44’s 1,500-square-foot common area, as well as the spacious studio’s stereo system and dance floor.
When lifelong dancer Mary Rose Field discovered Zumba, she was an immediate convert. After earning her Zumba certification, she founded Studio Z Fitness and spread the fitness craze at a zealous pace, outgrowing her first studio in only two months. Today, she oversees two studios—Studio Z Fitness and Studio Z Fitness II—and grants members unfettered access to both locations.
On a daily basis, Mary and the studio's teaching team guide students through various types of Zumba workouts. Although sessions vary by style and instructor, they all involve fun, easy-to-follow dance moves set to the rhythm of Latin-inspired music. For two years running, Studio Z Fitness has topped the New Haven Readers' Poll as the best place to take Zumba and the worst place to build a house of cards.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary dancer himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form using their expert eyes. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Energetic instructors at Work It lead cardio, dance, and fitness classes seven days a week, cycling through yoga poses and spinning around poles in workouts that avoid gym monotony. Cadres of exercisers move to blood-pumping Latin–based choreography in cardio-heavy Zumba courses ($18/class), where alternating quick and slow tempos create a temporal distortion field previously accessible only to the funkiest physicists. Introductory pole-dancing courses ($25/class) let practitioners build strength and confidence as they twirl aerobically around metallic dance partners who never slip or insist on solo river-dancing routines.
Named the 6th Best Thing to Do in Stamford by Mofflymedia.com, Metropolitan Dance Center was born of the combined experience and brainpower of John DePalma and Steven Dougherty—a television personality featured on America’s Ballroom Challenge and a national dance champion, respectively—who’ve both garnered revered reputations within the ballroom community through their extensive knowledge and training. Backed by a team of certified instructors, they teach students to glide across the dance floor through their progressive curriculum, which is certified by the Dance Vision International Dance Association. They map students’ progress as they teach them to sway and samba through Latin and ballroom moves during group and private lessons. They also help couples to perfect their first newlywed spin across the dance floor with private wedding-dance lessons customized to the beat of the couple’s wedding song or first shared Morse-code message. The studio also hosts open practice sessions, allowing burgeoning dancers to mix and mingle, practicing their new dance moves to a variety of tunes in a comfortable environment.