Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with instructors during private lessons and other classmates for group lessons as instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
No matter the student's age, ability level, or style of dance they'd like to master, the instructors at Power House of Dance probably teach a class to match. They lead dozens of classes Monday–Thursday at their two studios, which earned the 2010 Park Cities Neighbors Choice Award for Best Dance Studio. Kids can learn new moves in ballet, lyrical, tap, or high-kick classes, among a plethora of other choices, or take their skills to the competitive level on a dance team, which range in style from a drill company to a cheer power squad to a Boyz Squad. Ballet and ballroom dance classes teach adults fancy footwork, and yoga and Zumba classes help them whittle down waistlines without hitting the treadmill or bench-pressing another dancer. In addition to teaching group classes, the instructors impart individual attention in private lessons.
While Lisa Carmen manages the day-to-day operations of The Burlesque Experience, her alter ego, Carmen Diablo, teaches women of all abilities to express themselves through movement during her esteem-boosting burlesque classes. She grew up practicing more formal styles of dance, such as ballet, tap, and jazz, which she now channels into her more sultry steps, demonstrating the art of seduction through teasing technique and choreographed group numbers. During her steamy workshops and parties, ladies learn to develop their own stage personas and tempt onlookers with a bit of skin and tongue-in-cheek dance steps that often elicit as many chuckles as they do blushes. The full courses culminate in a performance—complete with stage lighting and props—for which gals are encouraged to gather an audience of their friends and any jurors at their upcoming small-claims court hearings.
Since 1984, the studio’s experienced instructors have conveyed their ballroom skills to both beginner and seasoned students, including Dancing with the Stars’ Emmitt Smith. As the instructor team takes the reins during group and private classes, students learn the graceful moves and footwork for the cha cha, the waltz, salsa, swing, or other ballroom styles. The studio also offers a special wedding course that gets couples ready for their big days, enabling them to finally have a reason to be the center of attention at a wedding. Many of the studio’s dancers also train for national competitions, often under the leadership of studio director and championship dancer Raza Begg.
At Kismet Hookah Lounge, DJs’ beats pound out from the speakers, smoke pours out of hookah pipes, and the bottles of high-end vodka, cognac, and gin make their way from the backroom to tables. The twinkling ceiling lights and colorful hues set a festive tone inside for a night of smoking and socializing. Plush couches invite parties to plop down, pick from a variety of hookah flavors, and watch the vapors curl from their mouths and vanish into whatever dimension all smoke disappears to. Between breaths, customers can chow down grilled steak tacos and order full bottles of Belvedere, Johnny Walker Black, and Hennessy to toast a special occasion.
Where there is human life, there is dance. At United Dance Academy, the instructors take an anthropological approach to their adult and children's dance classes by teaching styles from all over the globe. The instructors lead international styles such as the Brazilian samba and African dance, imparting their worldly skills to adults of all ability levels. In addition to perfecting their technique, students can enhance their endurance and ability to bench press a salsa partner in fitness-driven classes such as barre and Latin-based Zumba classes.
Kids age 3 and older can begin their dance voyages with classical styles such as ballet and jazz, or more contemporary styles such as hip-hop. The staff also lends their talents to parties and private events with Bollywood or belly-dance performances, and conduct personal Zumba and Brazilian samba lessons.