Natalie Smith needed some excitement in her life, which at that point merely consisted of performing as a professional ballet and hip-hop dancer, posing as a model, and balancing atop speeding motorcycles as a stuntwoman. After stumbling across a segment about pole dancing on the Oprah Winfrey show, she decided to spice things up a bit and dive headfirst into the fun yet demanding exercise form. She lost 25 pounds in two months, inspiring her to open her own studio—where she draws upon her experience in dancing and cheerleading to lead classes that span the sultry workout spectrum from pole routines to booty boot camp. The studio boasts 30 poles and 5,000 square feet of floor space, evoking the feeling of walking into a chrome forest—which is an experience similar to walking into the Redwoods after governor Schwarzenegger's controversial act to silver plate every tree. In the studio, Natalie and her team of certified instructors—twirling under a hot pink tin ceiling.—lead spins, climbs, and drops during lessons and private parties. They welcome ladies of all ages and builds to the women-only locale, which offers bed tanning to supplement its body-toning programs.
At the new Pole Worx location, classes are held in one of three new classrooms that house over 33 different poles. The new location also has two changing room and two tanning beds.
Bodies turn and twirl in the air, suspended from the rafters with colorful silks. Whether during a performance or class, the staff and students of Voler–Thieves of Flight Aerial Academy inspire awe with aerial dance and acrobatics. The academy’s professional ensemble includes ballet and modern dancers, along with circus artists, all of whom add their skills to lofty choreography on swings, silks, and hoops. The Voler ensemble has also performed at more than 30 notable locations including the Kansas city and Chicago fringe festivals and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.
The academy’s primary purpose is teaching, of course, and three levels of classes instruct participants on the finer points of contorting on silks and practicing spirals, suspension, and falls.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
Staffed by veteran dancers, Toyman introduces prospective prancers to the ins and outs of an array of Latin dances. Three trained instructors, who perfected their craft at a variety of studios and theaters, lead students in rhythmic explorations of salsa, merengue, cha-cha, and other festive steps. Couples dance classes can prepare brides and grooms for magical matrimonial displays of elegance or help long-time spouses one-up their foxtrotting neighbors and Charlestoning children.
KCYA’s mission is to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education. Founded in 1961, KCYA partners with professional teaching artists to deliver arts based programs to children and youth. KCYA is the largest provider of arts programs in the Kansas City area.
“Dancing can totally change a relationship—I’ve seen it a hundred times,” says Miranda Irving, a lifelong dancer and founder of Best Of All Dance. “The man gets to be a man again [by leading], and the woman gets to be a damsel swept off her feet.” Irving met her own husband as he taught her ballroom dancing more than two decades ago. Today she and her team of expert instructors help couples work together on the floor as they lead, follow, twirl, and revel in the music during introductory sessions, where basic steps give way to advanced styles such as East Coast swing, salsa, and foxtrot. The studio’s roster of lively fitness classes combines all-out exertion with energetic dance moves, from Latin-tinged Zumba to Bootie Blast sessions, where choreographed routines elicit sweat while groups of about 10¬–25 students memorize moves to hip-hop music and hits from artists such as Janet Jackson to combine music and exercise better than a jog on a human-size turntable.