The Mayo Performing Arts Center straddles time. While one foot is planted in the old-fashioned charm of the1930s movie-palace golden age, the other is firmly in the tech-savvy modern day. Between is a stretch of history that saw the theatre fall into disrepair and then resurrect itself to its star-studded heyday thanks to volunteers. Since its 1994 rebirth, the center has welcomed everyone from the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg to Ringo Starr and Aretha Franklin. But, if the Mayo Center were a tripod, its third foot would certainly reach toward the future?a suite of education studios is onsite to cultivate the next generation of performers.
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.
During the past 25 years, Brian and Jenny Nash have taught all sorts of people to dance. They've coached members of the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra for fundraising balls and helmed the Rutgers University collegiate dance program. At Nash Dancenter, they guide students through the simple sway of foxtrot and the trumpet-backed scintillation of salsa. A team of instructors aids them, drawing upon experience in national competitions and a love of the famous dance scene in Jaws. The studio in which they teach is an airy, 8,000-square-foot ballroom with french doors, sweeping window arches, and glistening chandeliers. During dance socials, guests look into the impressive chamber from a balcony, watching twirls and tango steps below.