Danswest Dance Productions' three studios host a menagerie of summer classes taught by an experienced staff of dancers and designed to cater to groups of all ages. Ballet is designed to teach correct alignment and body placement through exercises and barre work, tap classes assist students in their quests to dance out morse-code novels, hip-hop teaches the methods of popping, locking, and break-dancing in front of wall-length mirrors, and modern dance lets students express emotion and basic gestures used to hitchhike on cushioned floors. Children ages 3 1/2 to 5 can participate in preschool ballet and tap, and kids ages 5–8 can revel in the exciting world of musical theater, a genre best known for being performed by bored coal miners.
Trapezes, lyras, and slings dangle above the stage and classrooms at Zuzi!, a nonprofit organization with an affinity for the expressiveness of modern dance and the gracefulness of aerial maneuvers. The source of this passion rests within cofounder and artistic director Nanette Robinson—who is a certified Skinner Releasing Technique instructor—and radiates outward to talented teachers who lead dance classes ranging from aerial and ballet to funk. It also fills the studio’s troupe of performers who frequently pack Zuzi!’s 135-seat theater for seasonal performances, including an annual Winter Solstice Concert. Their mission also involves spreading the message of modern dance as far as possible, which is why they schedule an open aerial class during Friday happy hour and offer classes for kids as young as 4 years old.
After a life-changing car accident, Steps Dance and Fitness Studio owner Melissa Watkins thought she had lost her ability to dance for good. Through gradual exercise and her discovery of Zumba, Melissa gained a passion and appreciation for motion, which she shares with all who step onto the studio's wheat-hued hardwood floors. Instructors lead a multitude of classes that include weightlifting sessions to tone muscles and slow-paced workouts that forge the core strength needed to carry boulders to see the ocean for the first time. From beneath the raspberry walls, strains of music hint at the cumbia, merengue, and salsa tunes that fuel up-tempo dance sessions.
Carol Sottosanti inherited her love of hitting high notes and cutting rugs from her father, an opera singer who inspired her to pursue a degree in vocal performance from the University of Arizona. Naturally, Carol wanted her children to also experience the beauty and exhilaration of performing on stage, but she couldn't find a program that would grant her kids the proper exposure and practice they needed. Teaming up with other moms in the community, Carol organized a few small shows starring the neighborhood's charismatic children, and subsequently, Kids Unlimited was born. Since its inception in 1986, KU Studios still produces shows regularly, preparing their young performers with various classes in vocal performance, dance, and acting. Aspiring triple threats can dive into a wide variety of camps designed to hone singing and dancing skills, while promoting awareness of important topics such as bullying or the proliferation of mimes in Tucson. KU's outstanding performers earn their way into small-group ensembles that perform regularly throughout the community.
Over the last three decades, dance guru Kathryn Ferguson has dedicated her career to practicing and teaching the art of belly dancing. First exposed to the form in Casablanca, Morocco, Kathryn continues to put her own spin on belly dancing’s traditional hip shakes and tummy undulations, releasing a series of instructional video tapes and leading classes in her Tucson studio. These Egyptian- and Lebanese-style belly-dancing classes accommodate beginning and intermediate dancers looking to get in shape or shake up the annual family-reunion talent show. The studio's bright yellow walls create an upbeat environment, and full-length mirrors allow them to check for proper form and keep tabs on emerging six packs. In addition to teaching classes at Xanadu Dance Studio, Kathryn also helms the Xanadu Dancers Troupe, which performs regularly at dance- and music-focused events such as the Mediterranean Nights gala.
Kimberly Aguirre began dancing at the age when most kids are learning to write. She wore her dancing shoes all the way through college, earning five different certifications before light-tripping her way to the head of a dance studio in a local community center. Under her leadership, the studio expanded to a standalone facility and became Pointe of Grace. With a curriculum drawn from Aguirre's extensive background, instructors teach tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop to everyone from adults to teens and toddlers. Her Zumba classes hit the ground running as she infuses the Latin-dance-based class with her shimmying prowess. Students looking for the fitness benefits of functional movement without wanting to feel threatened that the rhythm is going to get them can tone and limber muscles in one of Pointe of Grace’s yoga classes.