A sea of spinning and twirling bodies can be seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows that surround Avant Garde's dancing complex. But the shear size of the studio is not clear until you enter. Inside, more than 5,000 square feet of danceable space is spread across three dance floors, each equipped with floating floor material that helps prevent knee and back pain. These specialized floors are much appreciated by the studio's clients, who can be found shimmying and shaking during group, private, and workshop lessons.
More than 30 instructors lead these classes, providing ample attention to students of all levels as they learn various dance styles, from ballroom and latin to West Coast swing. Praised for their positive attitudes by OC Weekly, each teacher is knowledgeable in his or her dance specialty, including teaching fiancés wedding dances and children how to simultaneously chew gum and do The Hustle. Students can also take advantage of the studio's Strictly Ballroom Dance Apparel Boutique stocked with dance shoes and nightclub attire.
MyGym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 months and skewing up to 3 years and 3 months—and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions—a class for kids aged 6 to 9—emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. MyGym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
Arthur Murray 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. 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.
At Ruby Karen Project, founder Ruby Karen uses dynamic choreography and acrobatic skills that earned her an appearance on So You Think You Can Dance to create classes that fuse aerial arts, dance, and fitness techniques. Her staff of trained instructors lead children and adults through exhilarating sessions that incorporate a variety of equipment, including silks, flying poles, and trapeze. Clients develop strength, balance, and coordination—not to mention defined arm muscles—as they learn aerial movements and techniques for defying gravity. From ballet barre workouts to hammock-assisted aerial yoga to any of the other classes offered at the studio, safety is always put first as instructors guide students through every new skill. Being a mobile performing arts school grants the Ruby Karen Project the freedom to set up classes in new locations, bringing aerial classes to more people and maybe, one day, mermaids confined to the beach.