Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.
Fullerton Dancesport Center owner Stuart Cole has made a career out of dancing with style. His long list of achievements and gigs include Scottish amateur ten-dance champion, US National Team representative to the World Championships, and film dancer in Dance with Me and Heaven’s Gate. So it is with this illustrious background that Stuart works with his team of instructors to bring their personal flair to dance lessons for students of all skill levels.
Whether in social groups or private sessions, students can dance seven days a week with a schedule of classes that range from the Latin-inspired salsa and cha cha to the more homegrown country line dancing and West Coast Swing. Wedding dance lessons help bride and groom glide across the floor or bowling lane during their first dance, while youth classes for dancers ages four and up impart basic ballroom and Latin dance techniques along with rhythm and posture. For a more sweat-inducing workout, Zumba fitness classes blend the dance styles taught in Latin lessons with energetic music.
Shesha Marvin was nervous as he gazed out on the dance floor, certain that his pounding heart could even be heard over the booming music. He had always been uneasy on his feet, choosing to lurk by the punch bowl at parties rather than asking girls for a dance—but now, at last, was a chance to overcome his fear. He took a deep breath and stepped out onto the floor, where he was immediately swept away in a rush of lively beats and glimmering lights.
After than fateful night, Shesha was hooked. He began dancing six nights a week at local clubs and, eventually, in Disneyland shows, favoring the lindy-hop and swing styles. He traveled the world to compete in international championships, even performing live on Dancing with the Stars. Today, Shesha brings his years of passion and expertise to his own dance studio, Atomic Ballroom.
Atop the hardwood floors of his spacious studio, Shesha and his instructors lead students of all experience levels through the steps, twirls, and transitions of the East Coast swing, the American fox trot, and the Argentine tango. The instructors can even help couples choreograph a dance for their wedding while providing expert advice on how to sashay gracefully in heels or how to twirl the bride without destroying the reception hall with F5-level winds. Every night of the week, they host a group dance party—from Sunday night tango to Saturday night Ballroom, as well as host dance-infused workouts of Jazzercise and belly dance throughout the week.
With its unexpected pairing of services, Shear Rhythm Hair Salon & Dance Studio offers a host of fun events and comprehensive beauty regimens. Dance genres such as ballet, jazz, and Zumba dominate the class schedule. Stylists cut, color, and retexture hair, and bridal packages make over entire wedding parties. Special events include Wine and Dessert Nights, when clients are encouraged to bring a bottle and a friend to the styling stations.
With more than 30 years of kid-entertaining experience, The Little Gym provides a safe and noncompetitive environment wherein wee ones can exercise their brains and bodies. Maturing moppets aged 4 months to 3 years glean social and cognitive skills from a parent-child program that helps developing minds learn colors and numbers and helps parents learn to take turns and share. Gymnastics allows energized preschoolers and kindergarteners to tumble at their own pace and caters to differing ages, levels of muscle development, and hatred of vegetables. Grade-school gymnasts tackle the mat, bar, vault, and beam in classes divided by ability, not age, and dance classes allow the rhythmically inclined to shake and sway.
The staff at Studio Fusion invites kids and adults of all skill levels to dance and get in shape in a sprawling 6,000-square-foot space with four studios, two of which have Marley sprung floors to soften dancers' landings. The team of dance instructors includes choreographers and backup dancers to the stars, as well as two former members of the Laker Girls.
The experienced crew helps pre-cheerleaders build strength and flexibility during tumbling classes, and teaches beginning and advanced ballet and hip-hop moves to kids and teens. The multidisciplinary fitness program offers just as much variety, including the ballet-based movements of Barre Fusion, Bikini Boot Camp toning sessions, and kickboxing- and tai-chi-based Turbo Kick classes.
The space has been designed with a cozy student lounge with WiFi and a gourmet coffee bar, allowing youngsters to work on homework or their investment portfolios and parents to chat. In addition to annual dance recitals, the studio hosts dance and musical-theater camps. The Broadway Kids program hones the skills children need to be a triple threat—dancing, singing, and juggling three smartphones at once.
OC Dance Studio views dance through dual lenses, both as a path to fitness and a catalyst for mingling. Body barre—a class focused on stretching and toning—sculpts svelte limbs and cores, and cardio dance lessons set to high-octane Latin and techno beats aid weight loss as a personal trainer bolsters calorie burning with personalized workout advice. Alternatively, students can explore movement’s interactive side through social dance classes and studio events, where people can mingle and practice moves such as The Worm or the more social Three Braided Worms.
OC Dance Studio’s panoply of children’s classes complement their adult offerings, building poise and self-confidence in youths aged 3¬–12. Classes span modalities such as hip-hop, tap, and flamenco. During regular dance recitals, students showcase their new skills for friends, family, and talent scouts for So You Think You Can Dance Before You Can Vote. The studio’s shoe showroom outfits dancers of all ages for courses, stocking kicks handpicked by the staff for niche styles such as Latin and ballroom dance.