DanceGardenLA was created by Zahra Zuhair and Jenna, who have been bellydancing since childhood and have travelled the world accumulating impressive professional credits. Zuhair has trained in traditional folk and Eastern styles?including Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Tunisian?but her specialty is Egyptian bellydance, which she has studied with some of the top teachers in Cairo. She has also been featured on the cover of Zaghareet! magazine and has written, directed, and choreographed productions as the artistic director of the Ghazella Dance Company and Po Na Na Dance Theatre. Jenna acted as a goddess bellydance instructor on an episode of Sex and the City, and made appearances on The Tyra Banks Show and the Food Network program Aarti Party. She has also starred in several bestselling belly dance-instruction DVDs.
Thanks to their more than 50 years of combined teaching experience and a talented team of award-winning instructors, the studio was named the Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing in 2012 by LA Weekly. The site recommended instructor Princess Farhana's "witty repartee (and Hollywood rock-scene anecdotes)," and described the predominantly female atmosphere as "always encouraging, never intimidating." The crew teaches classes including classic and tribal-style bellydance, Bollywood, and cutting-edge dance fitness such as Bellyquake and E5.
A childhood peppered with basketball, football, and volleyball couldn't keep Mary Murphy out of the ballroom after she was struck by the athleticism of the sport while watching a championship performance in her early twenties. She began to compete around the world, eventually slowing down enough to found Champion Ballroom Academy in 1990 and finally teaching there full-time in between stints on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance.
Mary has plucked like-minded instructors for her studio, some of whom created Core Rhythms, a Latin dance-based aerobics program. Many of the other teachers are competitive-dance champions or black belts in hula hoop. Aside from running a flourishing dance studio, Mary's palpable passion for the art form has also driven her to play a leading role in San Diego's Chance to Dance program, a curriculum that introduces school kids to the artistry and strength-building foundations of dance.
At her first ballroom-dance lesson, DeeLynn Fields learned, "If you can spell, you can dance." Working through tango steps, she stopped and unpacked t-a-n-g-o. By seeing the word for its individual parts, she reasoned that she could do the same with the dance. Soon after mastering each step, Fields felt them flow together, and a smile bloomed across her face.
That moment—when a student begins to grasp a dance and cracks a smirk—is what Fields lives for and now endeavors to cultivate at Crystal Ballroom Dance Studio. She and her fellow instructors teach beginning and intermediate-level dancers both smooth and Latin forms of ballroom dance, including tango, foxtrot, and other dance forms named after military lingo, and the team's expertise has garnered multiple awards, including a Best of Silicon Valley award from San Jose Mercury News in 2013.
Dancing with the Stars cast members Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska, whose 2007 wedding with each other was celebrated in People magazine, opened up Genesis Dance Sport Studio to share their expertise with kids and adults. Before stepping into the role of business owner, Sliwinska found success on the international dance circuit and in TV commercials in her native Poland before meeting the Russian-born Mazo at a ballroom-dance competition in England. The duo danced together for years at national and international events before skyrocketing to fame on the popular ABC dance show where Mazo won the first season's competition with General Hospital star Kelly Monaco. Sliwinska has twirled with a slew of celebrities—including Evander Holyfield and Joey Lawrence—during her 10 glamorous seasons with the show. The husband-and-wife team has also produced the instructional DVDs “Dancing like the Pros” and “Fitness with the Pros," which help people improve their moves and become agile enough to solve a Rubik's Cube with their feet.
Sliwinska currently acts as both an instructor and the creative director of the studio, which is a welcoming, down-to-earth space that Mazo's parents originally opened in 1994. Here, she and the other experienced instructors boost students' self-confidence and social skills as they teach them the cha-cha, rumba, and swing. Many of their students have even gone on to garner accomplishments within the dance industry. The studio also offers courses for weddings and dance-based fitness classes that combine ballroom moves with plyometric training and yoga.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers?with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers?are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
Founded with the goal of bolstering childhood development via confidence- and fitness-boosting programs, Tricks Gymnastics, Dance, and Swim's team of instructors keeps kids of all ages active and engaged via a host of high-energy classes. The highly skilled and friendly crew works hard to foster a nurturing environment within each class, keeping a close eye on the kids while teaching them new skills via positive reinforcement and recognition of effort. All three locations offer dance classes that introduce preschool Baryshnikovs to the world of movement and grant school-aged pupils a chance to explore various styles ranging from ballet to jazz to ballroom hokey pokey.
Meanwhile, experienced coaches man gymnastics programs designed to combat inactivity and encourage healthy lifestyles. Young ones aged 0–5 burn excess energy and hone flexibility during Tumblebunny classes, and big kids build strength and character thanks to both noncompetitive and competitive programs. A variety of special events include date nights that enable parents to sneak off for an evening of fun while their progeny plays at the gym. The Folsom location further fortifies its kinetic curriculum with swim programs focused on teaching pupils the essentials of water safety and basic swimming techniques. Paddlers grouped into classes by age hop into the crystalline pool, splashing about in waters kept at a balmy 89 degrees to ward off loitering snowflakes.