Chi Chi Randolph has choreographed routines for hip-hop artists including Nelly and the Black Eyed Peas. Kari Lehman has 15 years of ballet training experience. Viviane Bressan turned her love of belly dance into a career, traversing the globe while teaching and performing the ancient art. At Dance Austin Studio, these three number among more than a dozen dance instructors whose dazzlingly diverse backgrounds enable an array of classes for everyone from preschoolers to grownups and fitness buffs to serious students of dance.
Zumba combines fast-paced cardio choreography with dynamic Latin rhythms, and the 18-and-older Sexy Stiletto Fit class uses high heels to tone calves and build confidence. Students can choose to learn fundamental positions, steps, and vocabulary during structured ballet, lyrical, and jazz programs, or they can develop video-ready swagger during hip-hop classes. The studio’s sense of fun occasionally spills out into the community—it recently teamed up with the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to spark a flash mob at city hall, held to raise awareness of emergency preparedness and help officials practice what to do if invaded by dancing aliens.
Inner Diva gets ladies safely twirling with a staff of certified personal trainers and professional dancers during dance-fitness classes that tone bodies and transform cores into upper-body powerhouses. Ranging from beginner to advanced, pole-dancing classes build balance, control, and core strength as ladies move through choreographed spins and hoist themselves aloft with gripping moves. Other classes sacrifice the pole but none of the sultry steps by encouraging ladies to dress up in their favorite pair of heels or ankle-length Victorian bathing suits for choreographed burlesque or hip-hop sessions. The practice space also rents out the studio for 90-minute private parties. Along the hardwood floor and its outcropping of 10 poles, revelers celebrate everything from birthdays to girls' night out. Instructors lead a class of your choice, and every attendee, just like every successfully appointed Supreme Court justice, gets a free feathered boa.
Named for Charles Lindbergh's feat of leaping across the Atlantic with a plane strapped to his back in 1927, the lindy hop shook the foundations of many an American dance hall in the 1920s and '30s. During those roaring decades, the dance blended unrestrained new forms of movement, including jazz, tap, breakaway, and the Charleston. The dance became synonymous with swing, requiring of its dancers athleticism, enthusiasm, and a bit of training. Today, in an era of popping and locking, or programming robotic shoes to dance for you, the instructors at The Lindy Project keep the art form fresh, imparting Austin's two-steppers with the skills and fitness to perform this slice of Americana.
They lead group classes twice a week for couples and solo artists, or expedite the process with private lessons taught by an instructor schooled in a wide range of styles, such as balboa and shag. The art's many influences leave room for individualization and improvisation in dance styles, with some instructors incorporating more lifts and twirls while others perform tap moves while wearing scuba flippers.
"Anyone can learn to dance," declares Go Dance owner Mylie Alrich. And she's not the only one who thinks so—throngs of students flock to the studio for the large selection of easy-to-follow classes led by a team of more than 35 seasoned instructors. In addition to student testimonials, the readers of the Austin Chronicle crowned Go Dance for having the "Best Dance Classes" for four years in a row.
Much of these hard-earned accolades stem from the instructors' ability to teach ballroom, salsa, swing, country, and other styles while, at the same time, cultivating a welcoming vibe in which students can meet new friends and feel like they're part of a community. After tackling a variety of moves, students can show them off during weekly social and newcomer nights at the Lakeway, North Austin, or South Austin locations.
A conflation of Bombay (the old name for Mumbai) and Hollywood, Bollywood refers to the Mumbai-based film industry, which draws up the tradition of golden-age musicals, using song and dance as a way for characters to express their emotions. The dance style that has emerged from these films blends traditional and folk dance moves with beats and movements inspired by modern R&B and hip-hop. The ladies of Bollywood Shake showcase dance routines step by step, strengthening their student's sense of timing, spacing, and how to twirl without bodychecking their dance partner. Students twist and turn inside an expansive studio with lightly stained hardwood floors and decorated with gentle colors of orange and dark yellow. Instructors also offer Bollywood Workout classes, which use sped-up dance routines to tighten and tone the body.
Since 2004, Todd Gibbs has grown his team of enthusiastic instructors from one to seven, and collectively they take a fun approach to fitness. The instructors incorporate motivating music into their Pilates, Barre and yoga classes. Their robust, seven-day schedule features morning through evening classes that they cater to students of all skill levels by demonstrating modifications that make the exercises less or more intense. Todd's classes in Pilates are designed to tone the entire body, placing emphasis on conditioning the core to help people protect their fragile chandelier centers.