When Debra Sternberg first caught sight of Tom Koerner at the Doc Scantlin dance in 1987, she was smitten by his enthusiastic jitterbug. Though the duo's subsequent amorous relationship lasted only a year, their swing-dance partnership has lasted for decades. Together, they have jitterbugged and lindy hopped into the top spots in contests that include the 1994 UK Lindy Hop Championships, the 1998 Virginia State Open, and the 2010 National Living Legends of Swing Award.
Today, Tom and Debra pass on their expertise and passion at Gottaswing, their dance school that has expanded into eight locations throughout the United States. Each week, more than 500 students lay the six- and eight-count foundations for the jitterbug and lindy hop. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes meet six nights a week at various studios and dance clubs throughout the DC area, each equipped with a dance floor where students and a woman who looks suspiciously like Amelia Earhart can let loose . Four nights a week, the school invites students to join fellow classmates at events to dance along with DJ-curated tunes and live music.
Movement is medicine for Sunyatta Amen, proprietor and head instructor at MamaSita Movement & Wellness Studio. She expresses this philosophy through an eclectic menu of group classes such as Urban Fusion Belly Dance, Zumba, and Brazilian Samba Workout. During classes, students gain confidence as they shimmy hips and undulate bellies through each 60- to 90-minute workout.
The instructors at Abe Ballroom Dancing want the world of dance to be accessible to everyone. That’s why they have dance classes for those of all ages, no matter their skill level or previous experience. Dances include ballroom, waltz, cha cha, samba, and West Coast swing. They even have a class to prep soon-to-be newlyweds for their first dance.
Now & Then Dance Studios’ dance instructors let students pick from 21 styles of dancing, including waltz, salsa, and merengue. They make sure to integrate private classes, group classes, and supervised dance parties in their lesson programs, which have produced successful dancers for 35 years. They dance atop dance floors to reduce impact on joints and pump music through digital sound systems.
Since 1971, Maryland Youth Ballet's team of trained instructors has helped both amateur dancers and aspiring Baryshnikovs hone their skills with a range of comprehensive classes. True beginners can begin their swan transformations during the introductory series, which covers fundamental barre exercises and promotes proper alignment, molting, and musicality. More experienced students can drop into one of the studio's ongoing sessions that range from jazz- and Broadway-style routines to Horton-based modern movement. Adult classes are open to ages 13 and older, and all participants must bring their own ballet flats or oversize bunny slippers.
Sisters Veronica and Marilin have almost always danced together since they began their training at just 3 years old. They went on to study various forms of dance—from classical to contemporary—at the National School of Ballet in Peru, as well as eventually teach modern and Afro-Peruvian dance. In 2009, they moved from their native Peru to Rockville, where they currently specialize in Zumba fitness classes that help participants burn calories as they sway, step, and backwards-somersault to Latin beats. The sisters even add strength-training to the mix with Zumba Toning classes, augmenting the dance-based workout with muscle-sculpting toning sticks.