The rumba, Argentine tango, waltz, and other ballroom dances are often absent from the dance floors at bars and clubs. To acquaint people with these classic dances, the staff at Sway Ballroom Dance stages complimentary private lessons for newcomers on their initial visit. The lessons, which boost dancers’ confidence and knowledge of basic movements, forerun any future group classes, dance parties, or dance-offs with bosses.
Dim red lights cast a glow over the women’s only pole-dancing studios at Unveiled Fitness. Periodically, the shadows of pirouetting bodies flicker against the wooden floor and reflections streak along the metal of 16-foot stationary and spinning poles. Within this environment, owner Kristin Mason and her team of instructors lead their students through pole-dancing classes. Combining the battle-tested fitness techniques of strength training, yoga, pilates, dance, cardio, and pickle-jar-opening, Kristin and her team aim to make every woman they work with feel confident in her body. The supportive staff also offers personal training, private parties, and foam-roller classes, which use a cylindrical piece of foam to boost flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.
In 2003, the teaching staffs behind the Butler-Fearon and the O’Connor-Kennedy Schools realized something: though both academies nurtured the physical, mental, and competitive skills of scores of young Irish dancers, they could form a more robust program by combining forces. Once united, the team of Rose Fearon, Vincent O’Connor, and Kathleen O’Connor—each a certified Irish dance adjudicator—implemented a revised curriculum reaching students from both American coasts to the solid-ice skyscrapers of Ontario. Today, Butler-Fearon-O'Connor trains everyone from girls buckling their jig shoes for the first time to experienced adults, many of whom—such as 2011 world champion Emily Penner—have danced competitively at home or across the pond and landed spots on touring companies for shows such as Riverdance.
Focusing on perfecting traditional form and technique, classes are kept as small as possible, ensuring personalized attention from one of the school's 10 experienced, decorated instructors. Students also learn stamina, flexibility, and presentation, with an emphasis on avoiding motions that tend to draw judges' ire, such as clumsy arm placement and badgering the audience. Many locations also host more casual classes for adults and groups such as Girl Scout troops.
Using a wide range of fitness strategies, Thomas Tadlock knows how to achieve desired results. During his Express Results boot camp, participants burn calories while bouncing from spring-loaded floors, vaults, and trampolines. They also tame balance beams and utilize other gymnastics equipment over the course of the one-hour, high-energy sessions. To assist those that can’t attend his classes, he offers Skype training programs and DVD courses, as well as an MP3 coaching system.
Attendees of Londance Studios' lessons have seen some of the instructors before, and not just on the studio's brightly lit hardwood floors or in the mirrors that line the walls. Instructor Shirley Ballas lit up TV screens on Dancing with the Stars, and Tony Meredith did the same on So You Think You Can Dance. For more than 25 years, seasoned performers such as Shirley and Tony have spread the joy of kinetic expression at Londance. Two or three classes are held each day, in styles as varied as ballroom, salsa, and swing. Weekly studio parties enable dancers to show off their moves or scrutinize the mirrors to catch any vampires brushing up on the waltz they originally learned in 1790s Vienna.