The instructors at Michiana Dance believe that beginning dancers will learn faster, feel looser, and move better when instructed alone rather than around a group of equally uncomfortable strangers. During private lessons, students learn a variety of dances such as ballroom, West Coast swing, country two-step, or Latin dances as personalized, one-on-one feedback helps them sharpen their technique and fix mistakes quickly. The instructors can also prepare brides, grooms, and wedding parties for the dance floor, helping turn first dances into jaw-dropping performances and chicken dances in to tear-jerking manifestations of grace.
American Style Ballroom's founder Patric Didier has light tripped his way to a couple of Indiana Classic wins, a few gigs dancing for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and several commercial appearances. When he's not coaching professional competitive dancers, Patric teaches budding dancers of all skill levels how to gracefully hit the floor. Along with co-owner Jeanne Cross—a veteran instructor with more than 30 years of experience—the light-footed duo and its team lead private and group lessons at the studio's two locations. Students of any skill level pound the boards in styles ranging from raucous swing to elegant Viennese waltz to the slightly less elegant Viennese waltz on stilts. American Style Ballroom also hosts practice dance parties to give guests a chance to air out their new moves.
The instructors of Origins Dance Academy have traveled far and wide to learn and practice their craft, from choreographing in Los Angeles to dancing in prestigious European and Canadian ballet companies to appearing in area musicals. That wide range of experience allows them to teach youngsters in a wide variety of classes, including tap, ballet, and hip-hop. Origins also occasionally presents its students in performances and sends them to competitions judged by technique, difficulty, and how well the dancers perform sequences from Swan Lake while partnered with real swans.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio 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 other classmates as the 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.
Chicago Elevated, run by effusive improv veteran Margaret Hicks, leads curious charges on eclectic group, private, and custom tours of the city. Jaunts lead natives and tourists alike through the city’s oft-overlooked nooks and crannies as Hicks’s jovial voice narrates every step, shedding light on secret areas and easily overlooked historic sites. Her pedway tour sojourns into Chicago’s tiled subterranean antecity, where retailers, restaurants, and mole people mingle. Tours explore sites of famous disasters, visit the ghostly red-light district that once stretched below what is now Printer’s Row, and gaze at downtown’s ornate architecture from the riverwalk.
Stationed in Wrigleyville after college, Hicks accrued the healthy sense of humor and comedic timing that pepper each tour at Second City, iO, and other theaters. Though she attempted a move to New York City, Hicks soon discovered she couldn’t stay away from Chicago’s majestic skyline or the skyscrapers’ subtly receding hairlines. A stint in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s docent program, as well as acting as a tour guide for six years, arm her with insider’s knowledge that soon transfers to listeners’ brains.