Wendy Traskos's career as a pole-dancing icon began with one fateful spin. Impressed by the strength of self-expression she glimpsed in accomplished pole-dancers, she tried the art for herself and was hooked immediately, so much so she has been honing her spinning skills for 16 years. Now a self-taught professional, she channels her background as a certified personal trainer and gymnast to enhance her routines. Wendy’s fitness knowledge landed her celebrity clients, including Montel Williams and Mary J. Blige, and her proficiency on the pole led Germany's version of America's Next Top Model to feature her as a dancing expert.
At NY Pole studios, Wendy passes on her spiraling prowess through her original Climb and Spin method. She believes that students should build a foundation of muscle and a repertoire of techniques as they progress to more advanced pole tricks, which require them to shed all rock-climbing gear. Her classes accommodate varying skill levels with choreographed routines, motivating participants to practice recently learned grips, climbs, and transitions. The studios also offer fitness classes, private parties, and workshops led by guest instructors such as Cleo “The Hurricane,” also known as Miss Pole Dance Australia.
Vel, a certified Climb & Spin pole-dance instructor, spent time shimmying across Japan, Europe, and Africa in order to expand her repertoire. To put her versatile expertise to good work, Vel founded Brooklyn's Finest Pole Dancing Studio as a women-only dance studio where she could help women to shake themselves free of inhibitions. Newbie, intermediate, and advanced pole-dancing classes give students of skill levels the ability to shimmy away their insecurities and find enjoyment onstage as they study under expert dancers. In addition to dance, the studio’s schedule also includes fitness classes and specialty sessions where students can learn the secrets to lap dancing and creating sultry dance routines around props such as chairs or airport-terminal seats. Vel's dedication to empowering women carries over to the studio's Women's Wellness Workshops, which bring industry professionals and eager students together to share and discuss issues of women's health and sexuality.:m]]
Amid the illuminated signs, speedo-clad cowboys, and web-slinging superheroes of Times Square, it can become difficult to stand out. Ral’eau Salsa Dance Company, one of the neighborhood’s many businesses, has just the solution—teaching students to express themselves through a variety of energetic, sensual dances that originated in Latin America and calorie-torching Zumba classes. Teachers demonstrate the steps of New York- and LA-style salsa with patience and positivity, using easy-to-follow cues to help students master each swivel, spin, and air-guitar solo. They also teach other styles of movement, including tango, hip-hop, and swing, which students can take to the streets during field trips to dance clubs and cruise ships.
In addition to hosting signature Salsa classes, Ral’eau Salsa Dance Company opens its spacious, climate-controlled studios to those who want to tone muscles and burn fat through Zumba classes. Fostering a community of 1,000-plus members, the company hosts more than 300 classes per month across various disciplines while maintaining intimate class sizes. With five levels of progressive advancement, students will meet new people, improve dancing techniques, boost self-esteem, and stay fit while swiveling their moves in a lively environment. To accompany a wide array of fitness classes including pilates, yoga, and mixed martial arts, instructors lead private dance lessons to help couples gear up for weddings, proms, or three-legged races on the set of Soul Train.
At Pole Play Dance Studio, students flip, twirl, and slide along poles as they learn the cardio-boosting and sensual art of pole dancing. A succession of classes cover topics ranging from stretch techniques and strength training to 1960s-style go-go dancing and incorporating hula hoops. The studio also hosts regular themed workshops and bachelorette parties, in which the bride and her friends learn to perform a group dance on multiple poles in case they're ever bored and stranded in a bamboo forest.
When Marina Lisser was 14, she decided to take up dancing, despite the fact that in her native Russia, she was considered much too old to start. Firmly flouting social convention, she thrived, competing at the professional level and landing a fifth-place finish in the European Cup finals. Eventually, she went on to earn a master's degree in Dance Forms and write a dissertation on the psychology of competition.
But none of that prepared her for the shock that awaited her when she landed in New York City to work for Fred Astaire Dance Studios in 1993. She hadn't realized she'd be teaching a totally new kind of student: adult amateurs. She'd only taught professionals and children who wanted to dance for a living. If 14 was too old to start dancing in Russia, how would she teach adults in America?
Through trial and error, she figured it out by ignoring, according to a feature in Democrat and Chronicle, whatever holds her students back. "I'm one of those horrible Russian teachers," Marina confessed. "We want what we want; there is no such thing as limits."
Today, she and her staff of instructors specialize in two styles: American Smooth and Rhythm, and International Standard and Latin. Students learn to waltz, tango, and foxtrot atop the ballroom's sprung wood floor, which cushions feet and joints, while wall-length mirrors help them self-correct their form. In addition to teaching social dance skills and helping affianced couples prepare for their first dance, the instructors also ready competitive dancers to take first place medals in everything from cabaret dancing to swing, often by deftly prancing over the laser security systems that guard them. Marina is certified in dance therapy, as well as social and competitive wheelchair dancing, to make dance accessible to everyone.
Toes tap, soles crisscross, and ankles point and flex as pairs of dancers whirl across Arthur Murray’s smooth floors, where Sacramento-area hoofers have practiced steps since 1947. A specialized curriculum imparts basics such as foot position and rhythm, as well as how to lead, follow, or trot across the ceiling during beginning classes, and eventually ushers students into bronze, silver, and competition-level gold classes. Graceful instructors certified through the World Professional Dance Teachers Association lead classes and events such as private lessons, group formation practices, core rhythms reviews, and weekly practice parties.