Opera in Hackensack

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Susan Quinn. Amy Ernst. Sam Watson. To some, these are the names of great dancers, but to Deana Careccio-Gentile they are former teachers. Over her more than 25-year career, Careccio-Gentile has been a focused and accomplished dancer. It's only in the last six years that she has turned to teaching, and she came into the role with the same high industry standards with which she approached dancing professionally. Her supporting staff at DDA Dance Academy includes four former Rockettes, a former Miss North Carolina, Broadway veterans, and a finalist from the second season of So You Think You Can Dance. Together, the team guides students to perform with precise technique, yet the classroom atmosphere always feels fun and encouraging. Programs range from 30-minute dance classes for 2.5- to 5-year-olds to Zumba and Pilates for adults. Other classes include ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and tap for kids aged 6 and up, though the staff makes exceptions for younger kids who prove they can drink Gatorade out of their sippy cups without spilling.

105 Grove Ave
Maywood,
NJ
US

Catering to aspiring dancers as young as 18 months, A Dance Place offers lessons in a non-competitive friendly environment to help build youngsters confidence and self-esteem. The littlest dancers can take part in mommy and me classes or creative movement sessions, which instill them with a love of physical expression. Ballet, tap, and hip-hop lessons, meanwhile, allow pupils to delve into more specialized disciplines.

432 Bergen Blvd
Ridgefield,
NJ
US

Within the walls of the Farview Fire Company firehouse, the instructors of Best Foot Forward Dance Center guide children and adults through ballroom, latin, and swing-dancing moves. Students can attend private or group lessons, and can show off newly learned skills during dance socials complete with DJs and refreshments.

54 S. Farview Ave
Paramus,
NJ
US

The legend of Brighton Asylum says that the facility was once just a chain of warehouses. It was converted into a brutal asylum, which was eventually overrun by the patients. Ever since, those nearby have said mysterious screams drift on the wind from the sprawling buildings, which were closed for good in the 1950s. The legend also suggests that the closure had something to do with members of the staff, who would disappear, never to be seen again.

The professional actors at Brighton Asylum bring them vividly into the corporeal realm, assisted by movie-quality makeup and sets. The 13,000-square-foot space is open all year round, and it takes the average person about half an hour to get through. But, the staff says, "that depends entirely on how fast you can run."

2 Brighton Avenue
Passaic,
NJ
US

It's all about self-expression at Backstage Performing Arts Center, where instructors enkindle the passion that their students feel for dance. Students as young as 15 months or as old as 21 will find a class for their age group in the studio's expansive curriculum. Small class sizes ensure that instructors can take time to tweak each participant's technique, whether the class is jazz, tap, ballet, or tumbling.

34 Park Ave
Rutherford,
NJ
US

It's a mild summer evening. As the reception hall buzzes with the relaxed camaraderie of post-wedding festivities, notes from a familiar song ring out above the crowd. The lights drop, and things get quiet. From a behind the dais, the bride and groom move slowly towards the center of the dance floor. Lit now by a single spotlight, they embrace, moving slowly, gracefully in time to the music that means the most to them. There will be more dances tonight, between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, old friends and new, but the first dance rules them all. The instructors at Wild Child Dance Studio understand the affection and symbolism behind this memorable moment. That's why they devote much of their professional time preparing couples to skillfully glide through their first dances as man and wife. Before or after the big day, pairs can also hone their ballroom chops during group seminars, which unlock the secrets of timeless dance styles including the waltz, foxtrot, samba, and swing.

In addition to their wedding and ballroom classes, instructors train the next generation of Astaires with lessons for kids and teens. Youths can learn the secrets of beginning jazz moves, hip-hop choreography, and ballet stretches, or engage in old-timey elegance with tap lessons. Instructors also fill the schedule with adult versions of many of these classes, which join other grown-up lessons that cover belly dancing, nightclub essentials, and flirty, ladies-only chair dance routines that bolster confidence with sultry moves.

205 Chubb Ave
Lyndhurst,
NJ
US