Rachel Ladd was born to move. The former dance major started strutting her stuff on the ballet and tap floors at the tender age of 2, and by the time she got to the kinetic classrooms of Columbia College Chicago, she'd already garnered experience teaching jazz, tap, and ballet for all levels. When injury diverted her from the dance floor, a series of acupuncture and massage treatments ignited a new interest in holistic wellness that led her to seek certification in everything from massage and reiki to Pilates, sports nutrition, and Zumba. Today, she and her instructors lead classes that she hopes will inspire students to respect and care for their own bodies, sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with everyone from pregnant mothers and kids to consummate athletes and the stiff cats lounging in Chicago's back alleys. Styles ranging from Vinyasa and Forrest yoga to Hatha yoga for beginners comprise the studio's schedule, which boasts classes every day of the week.
Big City Swing’s mantra is to be fit, be fun, and be social, and it conquers all three of these goals by teaching dance styles that stem from the social clubs of the Prohibition era. Within the spacious ceilings and exposed brick walls of the studio, instructors delve into swing dance and Lindy Hop styles characterized by twirling, leg kicks, and lightning-fast rhythms.
Courses are taught in a four-week series or single-session workshops that also cover styles such as Balboa, the Charleston, and blues. Students seeking more individualized attention can schedule a private lesson or eschew the tradition of the post-nuptial hokey pokey by enrolling in the wedding-dance program. In addition to studio and onsite instruction, Big City Swing’s professional team also performs choreographed numbers at special events. Free street parking is available near the studio.
Putting together 200 burlesque shows in four years takes heartfelt dedication and an inordinate supply of pasties. For Vaudezilla founders Red Hot Annie and Dick Dijon, it was a dream come true. Their saucy theatrics have entertained audiences all over Chicago with monthly shows such as "Lincoln Fair" and the long-running, critically acclaimed burlesque parody of The Big Lebowski, which received four-star acclaim in Chicago Stage Review. The crew at Vaudezilla has also worked to innovate the art form, assembling live-band burlesque shows and story-based burlesque theater at Stage 773. In 2011, Vaudezilla opened its Belmont Avenue studio, where professional and amateur performers rehearse for shows, take belly-dance and Zumba classes, and learn the art of burlesque, which was perfected decades ago by 20th-century sex symbol Burl Ives.
Teaching hips to swivel to new circumferences, dance instructors impart their masterful moves unto students in the respected tradition Arthur Murray has upheld since 1912. Students dance with a partner, or the instructor, who provides a greater understanding of the dance style of their choosing with either method. Protégés may find their new moves applicable in a number of settings, such as when prepping for a wedding dance or blending into an airport crowd that breaks out in a cha-cha. Embodying the three-count time of a stately waltz brings partners in close; rumba moves and swing steps add vibrancy and playfulness to one’s repertoire. Arthur Murray Dance Centers provide a warm, aesthetically sound environment for engaging in private and group dance lessons superbly suited to slicing and dicing a rug until it is no longer recognizable.
Natalie of Rast Ballet & Dance Studio draws on her experience as a touring dancer and a faculty member at Columbia College to teach ballet in a fun, supportive atmosphere. Natalie offers traditional ballet classes for adults and children, as well as classes in Iyengar yoga, hip-hop, and Latin dance taught by accomplished guest instructors. The spacious dance studio tickles toes with a robust wood floor and central air in a facility that is also available to rent for occasions such as rehearsals, auditions, workshops, and duels between Nutcracker Cavaliers.
Although primarily a teacher, Natalie began her professional dance career with the Joel Hall Dancers of Chicago, and continued to tour the United States and Europe gracing stages in cities such as New York, London, Glasgow, and Bergen.
Flirty Girl Fitness is an all-female studio that torches calories during more than 100 classes a week. Their hand-picked fleet of all-female instructors teaches a variety of empowering classes, such as Abs & Booty, Pole Dancing, and Kick Ass Cardio. The studio also streams entire, uncut classes for Flirty Girl Fitness Live, a program beamed to out-of-towners who want to brush up on their dance moves. Weekend classes and private bachelorette parties invite ladies to sip cocktails from the licensed bar while they dance on the bar-top, spin on poles, chair stripteases,or get pampered in the spa.