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 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.
The passionate, experienced instructors at Tonawanda Dance Arts, which houses two air-conditioned studios, transform pint-size fumblers of any skill level into prima ballerinas with a bevy of enriching classes. Dancers can choose from a blossoming assortment of styles, opting for the rigorous-yet-graceful ballet, the passionate and expressive lyrical, or the stoic and dignified standing still. Hosts of classes populate Tonawanda’s busy schedule, allowing budding Fred Astaires to express themselves in myriad manifestations.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Ilya's Bellydance & Henna Studio teaches the fine art of tummy undulation and hip-and-shoulder shimmying to abdomens anxious to shuffle their metaphorical belly feet. Eager rug-cutters can strive to improve their poise and self-confidence in a standard belly-dancing, burlesque, or Bollywood workshop. An expert audience mesmerizer instructs on navel-oriented movement techniques, including the classic bellybutton ripple that displays agility and removes any abdomen-attached forest creatures.
Established in 1982 at a 300-square-foot facility, Center Stage Dance Studio has since widened its walls to include 7,500 square feet of dance rooms and classes that build both rhythm and confidence. Owner and professional dancer Annette Osinski,patrols Center Stage's four studios to helpfully spectate as feet prance atop cushion-suspended floors and limbs stretch across ballet barres. Instructors verse students in such boogying schools as tap, Zumba, hip-hop, and acro—a blend of classical maneuvers and acrobatics featured in Cirque du Soleil performances and many pro-wrestling cage matches. The experienced staff keeps ears attuned to the dance world's pulse by attending various conferences and returning with innovative maneuvers. With courses for guests of all ages and beat-keeping abilities, Center Stage favors communal encouragement over competition, pushing students toward individual goals with personal, positive attention to their form. Scheduled recitals for charities, including the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the Children's Hospital Telethon, acquaint dancers with the sensation of being on stage while contributing to worthy causes.
At Pole Play Dance Studio, students flip, twirl, and slide along poles as they learn the cardio-boosting and sensual art of pole dancing. A succession of classes cover topics ranging from stretch techniques and strength training to 1960s-style go-go dancing and incorporating hula hoops. The studio also hosts regular themed workshops and bachelorette parties, in which the bride and her friends learn to perform a group dance on multiple poles in case they're ever bored and stranded in a bamboo forest.