Internationally acclaimed dancer Amaya isn't regretful of her romantic impulse to run away and join the circus, a decision that sparked her notable and diverse career. The passionate performer was awarded Dancer of the Year by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance in 1998, and her documentary Gypsy Fire—which explores Spanish gypsy dancing—earned Amaya a Giza Award. Now, she channels more than 30 years of teaching experience and knowledge of several international dances, including Mexican folk, African, and a rare form of hot potato, into her dance classes. During these sessions, she overhauls boring cardio routines with basic belly-dancing techniques and Danza Mora moves—a marriage of Arabic and Spanish gypsy dance—which she infuses with cultural insights, inspiring philosophies, and nutrition advice. She also hosts women-only dance retreats to distant locales, during which she grants participants one-on-one dance training, spiritual guidance, and other opportunities such as the chance to observe a private Native American ceremonial harvest dance.
Amaya also believes in empowering young girls and women to reach their full potential. A portion of her DVD sales benefit The Girl Effect, a charity dedicated to empowering women and fighting for equal rights across the globe.
Myra Krien has belly danced since she could walk. Coming from a family that produces zen philosophers and artists, she harbored a natural curiosity for the arts, and when her mother brought her to her first belly-dancing lesson at the age of 3, Myra never toddled away. In the intervening years, Myra has studied with some of the Middle East's most prolific and respected dancers, and her dancing has earned her gigs opening for musicians and other artists throughout the United States.
Now, as the owner and director of Pomegranate Studios, Myra and her team of instructors introduce new dancers to the art and refine intermediate dancers' skills in myriad classes. Students can learn styles spanning from Asia to urban America or tone up muscles in sessions designed for fitness. The studio's dance company trains performers aspiring to become professional dancers, and Myra's afterschool S.E.E.D.S program helps young women avoid the normal afterschool hopscotch gambling rings while teaching them about empowerment and educating them in the arts.
This airy downtown studio currently offers hour-long classes five days a week, though the schedule will soon be expanded to accommodate a senior class and mom-with-baby variant. Blending acrobatic aerial work with yoga poses and bends, this discipline is not so much anti-gravity as it is a thoroughly polite dustup with gravity. Freed from the ceaseless pull of the mundane world by a swinglike ribbon of tough, soft fabric, your spine will stretch and unlatch, allowing you to stretch farther and deeper while holding poses longer than possible with traditional yoga. Ideal for beginners unable to touch their toes, anti-gravity yoga also retains enough depth to challenge even the most impretzeled yogi.
Quartets of feet step and slide across a hardwood floor, crossing the space between walls adorned with colorful artwork. The vivid decor sets the tone for the sizzling routines demonstrated by prestigious instructors, who guide new and experienced dancers through the techniques and dramatic floral arranging that characterize tango. Pairs and solo students can partake in group classes, private sessions, and special events on the academy's schedule. Online primers on the style's history and music complement newfound kinetic knowledge with a solid background in the dance's origins.
With a focus on producing inspiring dance productions and giving back to the community, Keshet Dance Company staffs graceful masters who can help new body rockers take their skills beyond hokey-pokeys and electric slides. Multiple weekly classes are available, including hip hop, ballet, jazz, and gentle modern. View the class schedule here.