The percussiveness of Latin and ballroom music resounds through Sonata Room, where founders and decorated dancers Laura Powell and Brandon Kwae lead private and group dance classes. A champion of the International Grand Ball Championships and Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships, Laura brings her hard-earned talent to the classroom, where she has trained up-and-coming dancers for 25 years. Watching a televised dance championship first spurred Brandon onto the dance floor, his quickly developed skills eventually placing him on the podium in competition. Together, the duo now patiently and technically break down each dance step for their students without using intimidating tactics, such as dancing with the time-out chair. Their spacious, dimly lit, and wood-floored studio also hosts occasional events, including bimonthly ballroom-dance parties.
It's Wednesday night. As workers across the city face the prospect of another hum-drum commute, a select few make their way to corner of Allen and Casa Grande. There, instead of enduring the scenes of gridlock, these students of movement immerse themselves in the sounds and steps of Latin America. They're met by Lumina Academy's seasoned instructors, who've created a salsa curriculum that leads small groups through basic steps to advanced, performance-ready moves, all with an emphasis on salsa as a social dance.
Whether they come with or without a partner, students of all experience levels gain familiarity and skill during small group sessions before showing off their newly acquired moves at parties. Classes emphasize lead-and-follow techniques, with instructors encouraging students to rotate partners so they can practice with various statures, skill levels, and numbers of feet.
In addition to salsa, the school specializes in other dance styles ranging from stately flamenco to hypnotic belly-dancing. To complement the grace and rhythm of their dance classes, instructors also offer exercise-based classes such as yoga and hip-hop boot camp, which combines sweat-inducing moves with invigorating music.
Loose-hipped leads Francisco and Stacey Martinez have 30 years of dancing instruction experience between them and 14 years of success with The Dance Family Studio. Alongside their years of experience, the couple released their own beginner's guide to salsa dancing video series and starred in just about every commercial that required comely individuals to swirl about the screen. They and their skilled staff will impart the fundamentals of the groove of your choice, helping to banish insecurity from flowing feet.
Helmed by professor and capoeira expert Muito Tempo, Capoeira Batuque Pasadena fills with the rhythms that drive the fast-paced sport. In group classes, instructors introduce the fundamentals of capoeira, which fuses the moves of martial arts, the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance, and the circular formation of Duck, Duck, Goose into a vibrant and aerobic form of exercise. Classes consist of two participants dancing around each other in the middle of the circle, exchanging movements of attack and defense in a frenzied but controlled flow. The classes maintain their lively pace by fueling the acrobatic movements with music heavy in complex, quick polyrhythms played on a range of traditional percussion instruments.
Inside YogaBlue's airy, 6,000-square-foot studio, a team of certified yoga instructors shares yogic knowledge with students of all skill levels. The seven-day schedule features an eclectic mix of challenging flows and Sunday-morning beginner-friendly sessions, during which teachers acquaint newbies with basic postures and breathing techniques.
Athletic Garage's experienced choreographers lead drop-in classes in a variety of dance styles that double as fitness routines. Hip-hop classes are set to ill beats, Zumba merges movements set to Latin rhythms and resistance training, and cardio funk works the entire body, from head to the two-inch layer of fat that protects the underside of the big toe from nail wounds. The teachers foster a noncompetitive environment, conducive to learning new styles without fear of judgment.
Few professionals can credit Flashdance with rerouting the course of their career. In fact, Richard Giorla could be the only one. The unconventional dance moves he saw in the film motivated the former Pennsylvania Ballet Company member to hit the streets of his new home, Manhattan, and learn breakdancing from dancers at the heart of the movement, trading his own dance expertise as payment. Richard’s career was in full swing when, struck with an injury, he started teaching a ballet-barre class. Though he appreciated its stretching and toning components, Richard craved a more aerobic workout. So he created his own solution—Cardio Barre.
The unique workout consists of high-energy, zero-impact movements that sculpt the long, slender body of a dancer without a student ever having to step foot in a traditional dance studio. As they balance on the ballet barre, or whichever classmate is closest, pupils direct all their focus to one muscle group at a time, while the entire body stays in motion for maximum fat burning. His approach’s pudge-busting abilities have made the fitness method a favorite of many health magazines and celebrities.