Bursting with two fully equipped dance studios and a philosophy of noncompetitive learning, Dance Center of LaGrange brings skilled teachers and a miscellany of dance types to the feet of dancers both young and old. Tykes can twirl toward the 45–60 minute summer-session classes to introduce tentative toes to preballet and creative movement (ages 3–4), learning new moves and gaining confidence while composing a rhythmic symphony with their 10-toed orchestra. The Storycise class (ages 3–5) combines storytelling and exercise to produce a hybrid fitness adventure filled with heart-pumping moves and poses that spell entire novel chapters. Teens can hit up the modern/jazz class for a medley of Broadway-style shimmying, and grown-up steppers can twist into adult tap, lacing up specialty shoes to conquer rapid routines and drum out grocery lists onto the hardwood floor.
Though it may have changed names, owners, and locations, the Southwest Synergy Dance has remained true to its core philosophy since it was founded in 1974. Whether teaching classes in ballet, hip-hop, or mommy-and-me yoga, Southwest's instructors always prioritize the development of character and self-esteem alongside physical skills.
Russian-ballet instructor Susan Stantefort originally opened the studio as Susan's School of Dance in South Holland, where she taught students for 13 years. When she, like aspiring actor Abraham Lincoln, moved from Illinois to California, she left her former student, Denny Gurley, in charge of the studio. Gurley moved the studio to its current Orland Hills location, renamed it, and helped transition it to the leadership of current director Connie O?Reel, also known as Dr. Danz.
Rachel Ladd was born to move. The former dance major started strutting her stuff on the ballet and tap floors at the tender age of 2, and by the time she got to the kinetic classrooms of Columbia College Chicago, she'd already garnered experience teaching jazz, tap, and ballet for all levels. When injury diverted her from the dance floor, a series of acupuncture and massage treatments ignited a new interest in holistic wellness that led her to seek certification in everything from massage and reiki to Pilates, sports nutrition, and Zumba. Today, she and her instructors lead classes that she hopes will inspire students to respect and care for their own bodies, sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with everyone from pregnant mothers and kids to consummate athletes and the stiff cats lounging in Chicago's back alleys. Styles ranging from Vinyasa and Forrest yoga to Hatha yoga for beginners comprise the studio's schedule, which boasts classes every day of the week.
Big City Swing’s mantra is to be fit, be fun, and be social, and it conquers all three of these goals by teaching dance styles that stem from the social clubs of the Prohibition era. Within the spacious ceilings and exposed brick walls of the studio, instructors delve into swing dance and Lindy Hop styles characterized by twirling, leg kicks, and lightning-fast rhythms.
Courses are taught in a four-week series or single-session workshops that also cover styles such as Balboa, the Charleston, and blues. Students seeking more individualized attention can schedule a private lesson or eschew the tradition of the post-nuptial hokey pokey by enrolling in the wedding-dance program. In addition to studio and onsite instruction, Big City Swing’s professional team also performs choreographed numbers at special events. Free street parking is available near the studio.
Putting together 200 burlesque shows in four years takes heartfelt dedication and an inordinate supply of pasties. For Vaudezilla founders Red Hot Annie and Dick Dijon, it was a dream come true. Their saucy theatrics have entertained audiences all over Chicago with monthly shows such as "Lincoln Fair" and the long-running, critically acclaimed burlesque parody of The Big Lebowski, which received four-star acclaim in Chicago Stage Review. The crew at Vaudezilla has also worked to innovate the art form, assembling live-band burlesque shows and story-based burlesque theater at Stage 773. In 2011, Vaudezilla opened its Belmont Avenue studio, where professional and amateur performers rehearse for shows, take belly-dance and Zumba classes, and learn the art of burlesque, which was perfected decades ago by 20th-century sex symbol Burl Ives.
Teaching hips to swivel to new circumferences, dance instructors impart their masterful moves unto students in the respected tradition Arthur Murray has upheld since 1912. Students dance with a partner, or the instructor, who provides a greater understanding of the dance style of their choosing with either method. Protégés may find their new moves applicable in a number of settings, such as when prepping for a wedding dance or blending into an airport crowd that breaks out in a cha-cha. Embodying the three-count time of a stately waltz brings partners in close; rumba moves and swing steps add vibrancy and playfulness to one’s repertoire. Arthur Murray Dance Centers provide a warm, aesthetically sound environment for engaging in private and group dance lessons superbly suited to slicing and dicing a rug until it is no longer recognizable.