At Stepz, professional Bollywood dance instructors imbue students of all ages with dance moves inspired by Eastern India. They foster an environment of support and encouragement as dancers soak up fundamental foot positions and learn to express themselves through fluid movements and flowing hand gestures. Students looking to shed excess pounds can speed up routines in one-hour aerobics classes, which lead groups though rigorous dance routines specifically designed to tone muscle.
As strobe lights slice across the stage, masked dancers descend from scaffolding and undulate to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Minutes later, a troupe of 6-year-olds takes to the same stage in traditional Indian shalwar, or loose trousers, and launch into a frenetic dance set to fast-paced bhangra music. These divergent routines—performed at Mona Khan Company’s student showcase—hint at the scope of dance styles that instructors bring to their classes. Though traditional folk and classical South Asian dance make an appearance, instructors also incorporate styles such as salsa, modern, and hip-hop.
This Bollywood dance philosophy has propelled Mona Khan Company into the national spotlight. The company’s professional dance troupe has performed with Bollywood demigod Shah Rukh Khan and dancer Shaan, and dazzled a live audience on America’s Got Talent.
Though classes at Mona Khan Company occasionally lead to professional dance careers, the studio strives to make Bollywood dance accessible to every aspiring dancer. For example, Jollywood dance classes train performers age 65 and older, and the Jeena program trains special-needs students. “It’s more than just dance,” says Ms. Shankar, the company’s dance captain. “We try to build a whole community around it."
Ever since martial-arts masters Ernie Reyes and Tony Thompson cofounded the West Coast World Martial Arts Association more than 35 years ago, their teachings have been shared at affiliate schools throughout the United States. The seasoned staff spreads Reyes and Thompson's mission by leading classes for all ages and skill levels, from white belts to the prestigious black belts.
Master Reyes has received a wide range of accolades over the course of his decades-long martial-arts career. In 1981, he was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. 13 years later, the cable network TNT's special Masters of the Martial Arts named him as one of the 20th century's greatest martial-arts masters. In 2007, the Marital Arts Industry Association gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award—an honor previously bestowed upon Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. He is also the co-author of the Little Dragons book and video series for young martial artists, and has been featured in Black Belt Magazine's series of instructional videos.
A hub of self-discipline, physical skill, and intercultural understanding since 2005, Tandez Academy of Martial Arts teaches seven different martial art disciplines from around the globe, as well various forms of self-defense. Pupils can learn to spar on the mat and defend themselves on the streets by studying muay Thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Filipino martial arts, or Bruce Lee's jeet kune do, a martial art and philosophy Lee himself invented. They also lead weapons classes, self-defense sessions geared specifically to women, and fighter fitness bootcamps led by certified personal trainers.
A family owned, family friendly studio, For the Love of Dance trains students in a variety of styles and in a manner that fosters a love of movement and art. Studio director Lesley Ruzon and her team of instructors—Tara, Dani, and Kasey—join forces and work with students as young as 2 years old. They provide private lessons, as well as group classes throughout the week, including ballet and tap, jazz, and hip-hop.
The instructors at Firebird Dance Studio, who have been teaching for 22 years, share their passion for dancing through lessons for students as young as 14 months. Aspiring dancers learn contemporary, ballroom, folk, Latin, and modern dance styles. Classes also give students opportunities to perform. Additionally, the studio has won the Best of Mountain View Award for two consecutive years.