What began as a small studio with five enthusiastic dance students has transformed into a full-fledged company that's educated thousands and won multiple awards along the way—including a Certificate of Congressional Recognition. Today, Strictly Street Salsa has a whole team of instructors that has danced its way across the likes of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain, and Rome and is ready to introduce students to new cultures through the art of dance. The studio offers classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced dancers in both salsa and tango and hosts dance workshops that blend Latin dance with various cultural elements, including African movement, gypsy music, and good old-fashioned American screaming.
Paola Martinez fell in love with dance at the age of 13. She has devoted her life to studying and teaching others about the art ever since, training extensively in flamenco, ballet, hip hop, jazz, and salsa. Her primary educational endeavor, Houston Salsa Dancers, instructs visitors in salsa steps to share Latin and Afro-Caribbean culture. Martinez also hosts classes teaching hip hop, ballet, and Mexican folklorico dance, as well as summer camps that keep kids from having to foxtrot with the television.
For Brandie, owner of Sassy Steps Stiletto Fitness, there’s nothing more seductive than getting into shape. Plus, she says, “laughter, smiles, giggles, and lots of blushing” doesn’t hurt either. In her private studio, she leads a master class in the finer points of flirtation. Her introductory stiletto fitness classes teach women to draw out feminine wiles through dance moves that often incorporate props, such as chairs, canes, and, of course, high-heel shoes. All the while, students shed calories, tone their leg and abs, and, most importantly, build up confidence with every sashay. The classes are almost tailor-made to ensure a memorable bachelorette party or girls’ night out, and Brandie also takes students under her wing in one-on-one private sessions.
At Soundbox Studios, the human body is the preferred artistic medium. Owners and brothers Andrew and Duy Nguyen, along with Calvin Eata, have created an encouraging space that supports the Houston dance community. Skilled instructors oversee hip-hop classes for all levels, teaching basic moves and rhythm patterns that students will later modify and make their own as they progress through the curriculum. The Soundbox also sports their own sharply dressed crop of performance teams, including The Lady Rascals, Riot Squad, and Lunchbox, a preadolescent crew capable of breakdancing their ABCs.
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.
Traci Greene began learning dance at age 6, and now she's come full circle, serving as the dance instructor at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School. When she's not teaching there, the former internationally touring dancer is running her own school, The Houston Dance Lab. At a spacious studio equipped with locker rooms and a parent lounge, students ranging from 3-year-olds to adults gather to learn classic styles such as the Vaganova ballet technique, as well as jazz and hip-hop routines. Students aged 6–17 can also show off their skills on the performance dance team, which has performed at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and the Houston Children's Festival, among other places.