The biographies of the dance instructors at Danser Studio reveal a team as ambitious as it is diversely talented. The six instructors variously specialize in teaching kids and teens, developing choreography, the Brazilian art of capoeira, and ballet, and since they’ve joined Danser Studio, they’ve expanded their skill sets through workshops in Brazil, weight training, and Pilates certification. They welcome kids, teens, and adults to the sprung wood floor of a nearly 1,400-square-foot loft-like studio, where they teach dance styles such as classical ballet, dance-fitness hybrid Zumba, and modern dance, which emphasizes the physical interpretation of music and the expression of emotions beyond “intent twirling.”
Music & Dance Academy caters to a variety of learning styles with group classes, private lessons, ensembles, and master classes for students of all ages and experience levels. Dance lessons range from parent-and-child dances to coaching for wedding dances to lessons in styles such as ballroom, ballet, and hip-hop. Music lessons help kids and adults of all skill levels learn a variety of instruments, including guitar, piano, cello, clarinet, or music theory.
After a life-changing car accident, Steps Dance and Fitness Studio owner Melissa Watkins thought she had lost her ability to dance for good. Through gradual exercise and her discovery of Zumba, Melissa gained a passion and appreciation for motion, which she shares with all who step onto the studio's wheat-hued hardwood floors. Instructors lead a multitude of classes that include weightlifting sessions to tone muscles and slow-paced workouts that forge the core strength needed to carry boulders to see the ocean for the first time. From beneath the raspberry walls, strains of music hint at the cumbia, merengue, and salsa tunes that fuel up-tempo dance sessions.
Trapezes, lyras, and slings dangle above the stage and classrooms at Zuzi!, a nonprofit organization with an affinity for the expressiveness of modern dance and the gracefulness of aerial maneuvers. The source of this passion rests within cofounder and artistic director Nanette Robinson—who is a certified Skinner Releasing Technique instructor—and radiates outward to talented teachers who lead dance classes ranging from aerial and ballet to funk. It also fills the studio’s troupe of performers who frequently pack Zuzi!’s 135-seat theater for seasonal performances, including an annual Winter Solstice Concert. Their mission also involves spreading the message of modern dance as far as possible, which is why they schedule an open aerial class during Friday happy hour and offer classes for kids as young as 4 years old.
The trained and experienced instructors at Animas Center lead 15–20 students in yoga and Pilates classes on sprung wood floors specially designed to cushion yogis and foster healthy joints. Mix and match from the schedule's spectrum of body-bending classes, such as the VyaVinyasa class, which blends the kinetics of martial arts and dance with the contemplative posing of yoga. Yoga Nidra, a 45-minute guided meditation, disposes the stresses of the mind and the tensions of the body through a careful combination of relaxing exercises and supine positions that leave yogis as calm and centered as a monk encased in jell-o. Core-strengthening Pilates workouts, such as Pilates mat classes, comfortably cater to the spine through a series of floor exercises.
Professional fighters such as Eddie “Crazy Face” Arizmendi and Chad “Grave Digger” Griggs call Apex Mixed Martial Arts home, but owners Joey “Boom Boom” and Nicole Rivera treat each client like a champion. Inside the cages and on the grappling mats, instructors lead a variety of martial-arts programs such as striking, adult and kids' MMA, grappling, capoeira, and professional practice. Native Brazilian Melissa Morgensen leads energetic Brazilian samba classes, and Apex also hosts other special events such as kids' camps.
Carol Sottosanti inherited her love of hitting high notes and cutting rugs from her father, an opera singer who inspired her to pursue a degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. Naturally, Carol wanted her children to also experience the beauty and exhilaration of performing on stage, but she couldn't find a program that would grant her kids the proper exposure and practice they needed. Teaming up with other moms in the community, Carol organized a few small shows starring the neighborhood's charismatic children, and subsequently, Kids Unlimited was born. Since its inception in 1986, KU Studios still produces shows regularly, preparing their young performers with various classes in vocal performance, dance, and acting. Aspiring triple threats can dive into a wide variety of camps designed to hone singing and dancing skills, while promoting awareness of important topics such as bullying or the proliferation of mimes in Tucson. KU's outstanding performers earn their way into small-group ensembles that perform regularly throughout the community.