Encore Studio's owner and art director, Karen King Flores, is a professional dance instructor certified through Dance Masters of America and a former apprentice of Robert Joffrey, founder of the Joffrey Ballet. Her graceful performances appeared in such esteemed companies as the Houston Ballet and the Richmond Ballet before she opened her studio's doors in the early 1990s. With 25 years of experience teaching dance under her belt, Karen and her talented staff of teachers—who hail from international dance companies, Vegas shows, and the Kirov in Russia—ground each dance class in fundamental skills and proper technique as they teach students to perform original, age-appropriate choreography. Their well-rounded curriculum includes instruction in jazz, ballet, tap, and hip-hop, a collection of techniques that falls in line with the instructors' priority of letting each participant have fun as they learn. Encore Studio's welcoming, noncompetitive environment allows talent to blossom without fear of judgment from an ambitious old tap shoe.
In 2011, readers of Richmond magazine voted Rigby's Jig Dance Studio the Best Place to Learn How to Dance for Your Wedding, citing instructors that will help choose music and can choreograph routines to classic torch songs and pop tunes. With a lifetime's worth of experience—starting at the age of 3 and including a bachelor's in Theater and Dance from George Washington University—owner Eleanor Robertson heads an enthusiastic faculty.
Robertson’s favorite dances include West Coast swing and the cha-cha, both of which are among the 19 ballroom dances taught to any adult within the bright confines of the citrus-colored studio. Argentine tango milongas and dance parties take over in the evenings, allowing students to try out new steps with members of the broader dance community. The spacious studio seats 100 across its gleaming hardwood floors, and rows of mirrors enable those in movement classes⎯yoga and cardio dance are also on the schedule⎯to work on the balance and alignment of their vestigial tails.
Dance Therapy Studios, founded by internationally experienced hoofer Ashton Feliciano, emphasizes the fun, stress-relieving, and socially invigorating aspects of dance. With three Latin dance classes ($12 per class), tenderfooted tenderfoots and skilled sashayers alike can learn the basics of music-accompanied movement in three of five available Latin styles. The bachata adds a pelvic pop to a walking Cuban hip motion, while the rhumba seductively lets hips do much of the legwork. Bounce to the Brazilian beat of the samba, slink through the syncopation of the cha-cha, or master the close-quarters choreography of the merengue. Each class runs 45 minutes, allowing students to fully embrace their inner Fred Astaire, Martha Graham, or Millard Fillmore in less than an hour.
At Dance Masters Studios, Rock Foster and his skilled staff have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of more than 25 dance styles. They specialize in the familiar, such as the tango and waltz, as well as more obscure styles such as shag swing dancing and bolero dancing. They work at each student’s individual pace, combining private lessons with group lessons and social dance parties to ensure each person finds their footwork.
Simply Ballroom’s resident instructors utilize their experience navigating dance floors to bolster students’ body movements in drop-in group classes and private lessons for all ages and skill levels. Students can initiate a new dance career or refine familiar steps alongside like-footed individuals through focused tutelage in Viennese waltz, West Coast swing, foxtrot, and a mélange of Latin styles. During group lessons, students grasp their favorite partner or nimblest coat rack to glean the basic step counts and intricate maneuvers of the chosen discipline as instructors provide helpful correction and encouragement. On Sundays, practice parties lend ballroom pupils the chance to showcase newly learned steps in a public setting while enjoying the camaraderie of other students, outside dancers, and overzealous Broadway casts escaping public-disturbance charges.
Studio owner Khalima’s knack for putting others at ease helps her students to drop their inhibitions in favor of fun, sensual choreography. Khalima and her highly trained staff host seminars in several styles, ranging from classic and tribal to improvisational fusion. They showcase their steps on a sprung wood floor, twirling in front of a mirrored wall to better examine their form and check to see if their navels are still fastened. Whether they are hosting a weekly series, a special workshop, or a private party, the teachers preserve a welcoming atmosphere for guests of all ages and abilities.