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. 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.
Influenced by dance trends from Europe to Latin America, the staff at SuperShag Dance Studios splits its time between three Boston-area spaces filled with dancing poles, yoga mats, and custom sound systems. Founder Chris Johnston—who won several amateur Latin dance championships as a kid in Ireland and was named a World Class adjudicator by the National Dance Council of America—carefully amassed his talented troupe of teachers from dance schools around the world and from Fred Astaire’s botched attempts to clone himself. During private and group lessons, they spice up Latin-, ballroom-, and pole-dance numbers with an urban twist heavily influenced by British Dancesport, and ready students for competitions.
In his first design for 5 Wits, Mathew DuPlessie channeled the fedora-wearing, whip-cracking swagger of Indiana Jones. Called Tomb, this interactive entertainment experience threw its participants into ancient Egypt to solve riddles and clues from a supernatural pharaoh. Since then, DuPlessie, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, has opened up two new adventures that combine the immersive special effects of a Hollywood movie with the interactive role-play of a video game. "It's hands-on entertainment," the former designer for Disney World and Universal Studios told the Patriot Ledger, "that forces people to get off their rear end."
Thus far, all of his adventures have worked to immerse the mind and the senses—the Shakespearean origins of the company's name. Taken from Much Ado About Nothing, "five wits" refers to the Bard's nod to memory, imagination, fantasy, common sense, and estimation. Though the scenarios are meant to thrill and challenge players, none are meant to frighten, nor are they designed to be beyond the reach of those with average physical ability and psychic powers.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, 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.
Salsa y Control's instructors—who have performed and taught across the nation—welcome students for a variety of salsa classes. Beginner salsa courses help dancers develop basic steps, techniques, and etiquette, and more advanced courses delve into refining footwork and working with partners. Salsa y Control also offers intermediate classes, along with classes on bachata, burlesque, and cha cha.