Chicago Elevated, run by effusive improv veteran Margaret Hicks, leads curious charges on eclectic group, private, and custom tours of the city. Jaunts lead natives and tourists alike through the city’s oft-overlooked nooks and crannies as Hicks’s jovial voice narrates every step, shedding light on secret areas and easily overlooked historic sites. Her pedway tour sojourns into Chicago’s tiled subterranean antecity, where retailers, restaurants, and mole people mingle. Tours explore sites of famous disasters, visit the ghostly red-light district that once stretched below what is now Printer’s Row, and gaze at downtown’s ornate architecture from the riverwalk.
Stationed in Wrigleyville after college, Hicks accrued the healthy sense of humor and comedic timing that pepper each tour at Second City, iO, and other theaters. Though she attempted a move to New York City, Hicks soon discovered she couldn’t stay away from Chicago’s majestic skyline or the skyscrapers’ subtly receding hairlines. A stint in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s docent program, as well as acting as a tour guide for six years, arm her with insider’s knowledge that soon transfers to listeners’ brains.
Kristin was nervous before her first pole-dancing class. Sure, she?d spent years as a fitness specialist with a background in classical dance, but she was also working as the volunteer director at her church. What would people think? At her first turn around the pole, however, her fears vanished. ?I felt like a goddess and an acrobat,? she says.
Today, Kristin is a certified pole instructor, a master trainer for Pole Move, Inc, and a member of the Pole Fitness Association. Inside her 3,400-square-foot studio, she works alongside 16 PFA-certified instructors to teach women body acceptance through pole dancing. More than 3,000 female students so far have sampled the studio's liberating, confidence-boosting classes. There's a broad selection of class types, including eight stages of pole dancing, burlesque, aerobic classes, core conditioning, aerial silks, and aerial yoga. Each class caps attendance at 10 students to ensure instructors know everyone?s name and favorite sandwich, and that they can keep an eye out for safety and technique.
Arthur Murray Dance Studios has been a leading name in social 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. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with certified instructors. 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.
Studio director Anna Sen completed her first regulation twirl at age 4. After years of classical training, contemporary and fusion styles began to draw her interest. These eclectic influences, paired with her training in group-fitness instruction, were her inspiration when she founded Rhythmaxdance. The studio combines elements of Bollywood, hip-hop, and Latin dance to create dynamic total-body workouts based on relatively simple, yet engaging, choreography.
Classes can incorporate the basic steps of salsa, meringue, or bachata into cardio-intensive regimens while upbeat world music helps to keep time and drown out the hissing sound of pores releasing sweat. In addition to burning calories and increasing confidence, workouts can also strengthen core muscles while toning arms and legs.
Within the private Studio Maliha, a dance space with floating oak-laminate floors, full-length mirrors, and track lighting, Serafina Belly Dances welcomes dancers of all ages, sizes, and abilities. In private and group classes—with a capacity of 12—students learn the fundamentals of proper posture, technique, and vocabulary of belly dancing. Students not only glean a full-body workout from the physically challenging moves of belly dance, but can also garner empowerment and a healthy self-image from the sensuous art form. Serafina Belly Dances celebrates self-appreciation and encourages positive body image in women of all sizes.
Since Barbara McNulty founded her school in 1971, it has expanded to 18 state-spanning locations where beginning and advanced students learn the ins and outs of Irish dancing. McNulty herself is certified to teach Irish step solo, figure, and ceili dancing, and instructors lead a host of solo and team lessons to accommodate different ages or experience levels.