Dance Tonight co-owner Jeremy Norris knows his students. "When it comes down to it, everyone really dances for one reason: to have fun," he states on his school?s website. Co-owner Emily Loyless and their staff of fellow NDCA-registered instructors share his sentiment. In addition to teaching salsa, west coast swing, and country dancing, their dance studio turns into a ballroom dance party on Friday nights where students practice moves from their lessons. Norris and company also schedule Zumba dance fitness classes, whose calorie burn far exceeds that of completing 100 Macarenas.
Absolute Ballroom’s knowledgeable instructors specialize in a wide variety of dance styles, catering to terpsichorean newbies during 45-minute introductory classes. Absolute Ballroom’s certified and trained teachers pride themselves on unearthing a student’s missing right foot, believing that dancing can be taught to anyone, regardless of a lack of rhythm or a fevered insistence that the floor is made of lava. Dancers can learn the basic steps of several social dances under the watchful gaze of a private instructor, alternating between the wistful glides of the waltz or the elusive woodland rhythms of the foxtrot. Students can also master the over-the-shoulder saltation of swing, rumba’s mellifluous hip movements, or how to properly chomp a rose for tango.
The Bijou’s origins stretch back through American history, but it didn’t become a theater until relatively recently: 1908. For nearly a century prior to its dramaturgical reinvention, the building was a high-class hotel that housed high-ranking military commanders, influential civic leaders, and even President Andrew Jackson for a spell in 1819. When General Ambrose Burnside took the town of Knoxville during the Civil War, the hotel was converted into a hospital, makeshift war room, and oil-wrestling arena for Generals William Sherman and Phil Sheridan. The latter portion of the 19th century showed the building more favor, and during the lavish 1870s another president—Rutherford B. Hayes—paid call, and delivered a speech from the hotel’s balcony.
The early 1900s saw the hotel’s biggest renovation to date when it was purchased and upgraded by the Auditorium Company. The newly rechristened Bijou Theatre opened to a sellout crowd, and was a major outlet for vaudeville from 1913 to 1926. Hard times began to pile up soon afterward, and the lapsed theater would have been demolished in 1975 were it not for its eleventh-hour listing on the National Historic Record. Since its most recent renovation in 2006, the stage has hosted pop stars and musical blockbusters.
At Aerial Space, workouts unfold in midair. Practitioners weave through suspended silks, flow through yoga poses supported by hammocks, or practice acrobatic moves on the static trapeze and lyra, a suspended hoop. Aerial Space's aerial circus-arts classes, offered privately and for groups of children and adults, instill equal parts grace, fitness, and newfound skill.
Jon Dee has been entertaining audiences with the mystical arts since the age of 14, when he owned his own magic shop and performed tricks at the tables of local restaurants. In his humorous and family-friendly show, Jon displays the power of the human mind as transfixed volunteers cluck like chickens or compete in an '80s-style dance competition. A veteran youth pastor, Jon hypnotizes volunteers in a relaxed, safe setting and also bookends shows with a positive message on the power of the mind. Like races to the moon, shows are scheduled at the Gatlinburg Space Needle anywhere from two to six times a week and also include light-hearted sprinklings of magic, ventriloquism, and comedy.