Whether contorting their muscular limbs around unforgiving poles or manipulating their bodies around fabric in midair, the studio's team of talented instructors demonstrates that pole dancing is no longer just for flirty firefighters and penguins. Within the mirrored practice space accented by splashes of lavender, patrons of all fitness levels learn impressive vertical tricks and choreography designed to build strength and flexibility. Colorful suspended silks allow students to reach new fitness heights both literally and metaphorically during aerial classes. Expanding its reach to the mind along with the body, Phoenix Aerial Art and Pole offers a slew of martial-arts classes, such as qi gong, xing yi, and yi chuan.
Grace and self-confidence are learned skills at Allegro Ballroom. The nonprofit, volunteer-operated dance studio teaches students of all ages and skill levels how to master the footwork of various American and international ballroom dance styles. Instructors lead group and private classes in everything from the Viennese waltz and the tango to the rumba and the cha-cha, meeting in one of the three ballroom practice spaces that range in size from 800 to 3,000 square feet. Whether visitors are looking for an introduction to the fundamentals of ballroom dancing or a more in-depth study of a particular style, the instructors are available to provide engaging and informative insight intended to help people navigate a dance floor with ease.
Through the towering windows of In the Groove Studios, pedestrians catch glimpses of bodies swaying, stomping, and somersaulting across a spacious wooden dance floor. The downtown Oakland studio, founded by four Bay Area hip-hop artists who share a passion for dance, booms with thumping bass that energizes dance classes throughout the week. Pieces from local artists speckle the walls of their two-story pop-and-lock academy, where professional instructors—including the former artistic director for Culture Shock Oakland and the founder of Groove against the Machine—lead students of all experience levels in styles such as hip-hop, jazz funk, and contemporary. Other days, they conduct fitness-focused Zumba classes and weekly specialty workshops. In the Groove's two spacious dance floors are equipped with stereo sound systems and full-length mirrors, making the space ideal for hosting private functions or revealing to your roommate that you've shaved off his eyebrows before apologizing with a karaoke rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Dance Arts Studios' instructors get fleet feet flying with a panoply of dance classes set within a studio that Pacific Sun named the best place for dance lessons in 2007 and 2008. The accommodating schedule of ballroom, Latin, and swing dances lets beginners and more sure-footed students build stepping and twirling skills with social dance classes. The Dance for Fitness course centers around fun, upbeat routines that strengthen cores and improve flexibility, teaching students to stylishly retrieve fallen items with a graceful dip. Although not included in today's Groupon, guest instructors and 2011 U.S. Argentine-tango stage champions Gustavo Hornos and Jesica Salomon help to inspire more seasoned dancers to take their tango to the next level in an intermediate/advanced Argentine-tango class.
Leona Norman founded Marin Ballet more than 40 years ago, holding classes in her own home. As an internationally trained and acclaimed dancer, Norman hoped to bring the same high-quality teaching she experienced abroad to dancers of all ages in Northern California. At her studio, which has expanded greatly to fill a bright and spacious facility in San Rafael's historic Dominican neighborhood, the current staff pursues the same mission of high-quality dance education under the tutelage of artistic director Cynthia Lucas, who trained under Norman.
The studio now welcomes more than 600 adults and youths per year to hone their fancy footwork with a schedule of more than 100 classes per week. Ballet makes up the majority of Marin’s curriculum, with training programs that start wee ones as young as 3 years old on the path to learning advanced techniques and pointe skills into adulthood. To balance out ballet-heavy schedules, students can enlist in infusion training, which covers such styles as modern dance, Pilates, jazz, flamenco, and West African dance.
The students and their instructors also choreograph and present showcases and performances of such ballet classics as The Nutcracker, the beloved tale in which giant nuts ransack a village and are eventually destroyed by the heroic Nutcracker.