Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise 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 other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. 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.
Dancing with the Stars cast members Alec Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska, whose 2007 wedding with each other was celebrated in People magazine, opened up Genesis Dance Sport Studio to share their expertise with kids and adults. Before stepping into the role of business owner, Sliwinska found success on the international dance circuit and in TV commercials in her native Poland before meeting the Russian-born Mazo at a ballroom-dance competition in England. The duo danced together for years at national and international events before skyrocketing to fame on the popular ABC dance show where Mazo won the first season's competition with General Hospital star Kelly Monaco. Sliwinska has twirled with a slew of celebrities—including Evander Holyfield and Joey Lawrence—during her 10 glamorous seasons with the show. The husband-and-wife team has also produced the instructional DVDs “Dancing like the Pros” and “Fitness with the Pros," which help people improve their moves and become agile enough to solve a Rubik's Cube with their feet.
Sliwinska currently acts as both an instructor and the creative director of the studio, which is a welcoming, down-to-earth space that Mazo's parents originally opened in 1994. Here, she and the other experienced instructors boost students' self-confidence and social skills as they teach them the cha-cha, rumba, and swing. Many of their students have even gone on to garner accomplishments within the dance industry. The studio also offers courses for weddings and dance-based fitness classes that combine ballroom moves with plyometric training and yoga.
Entangle & Sway's encouraging instructors motivate ladies of all shapes and experience levels to discover confidence in their femininity while sculpting lean muscles in pole-dancing lessons. Within the dimly lit, windowless studio, gals can feel comfortable shimmying and twirling at one of six poles in the noncompetitive, supportive environment. All ladies must begin their journeys to pole-dancing prowess in the Passage to Pole series, a five-week workshop that meets once a week to familiarize beginners with basic tricks and safety tips. Upon finishing the set, gals can embark on another series, including Pole Connection—which incorporates tantalizing floor work into pole routines while donning heels or snowshoes for an added challenge—or opt for drop-in classes. Drop-in classes grant the opportunity for students to explore varied aspects of pole dancing, perfecting techniques, integrating props, or conditioning muscles for powerful inversions. To celebrate occasions such as birthdays or bachelorette parties, ladies can bring along friends for instructor-led private parties, where they learn a personalized routine while enjoying time for playing around on the poles and posing for photos.
The Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater, on the second-floor overlooking the bustle of 24th and Mission Streets, is both a workshop and a venue. While equipped with a 140-seat black box theater, the main studio space is practically a solarium, open to all the sunlight of San Francisco’s Banana Belt. Here, aspiring dancers can tone up and acquire the moves in samba, reggaetón fusion and Haitian drumming, or, in classes such as Vogue and Tone, they can get a workout while cat-walking, posing and re-learning how to navigate the world in heels. There are more than 50 classes each week, plus summer programs for youth – and it’s open for rehearsal rentals. On the performance side, it’s the home of the Dance Mission Brigade, which bridges high-concept choreography with the movement of the streets. Community-driven and diverse in its programming, this is San Francisco’s home for socially-conscious modern dance.
For almost 40 years, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has had a full dance card, acting as the omnibus educational center for a thriving, bilingual Latin American community far beyond the immediate neighborhood. Whether it’s murals, graphic arts, Carnaval floats, capoeira classes, salsa-merengue classes, mentoring to at-risk youth or simply renting out gallery space for the community’s own purposes, MCCLA’s calendar is bursting with programming for everyone. In an era without state support for the arts and amidst an ever-gentrifying Mission, MCCLA enjoys a magical combination of paid staff and volunteers who keeps this treasured institution relevant and ahead of the curve. It’s part summer camp, part Kennedy Center.