A quick study in graceful movement, Peter Gelzhinsky competed in the finals at the USA National Dance Championship just three years after taking up the craft. Parlaying his quick learning into effective teaching methods, Peter now leads hot-footed hopefuls through lessons that cover such social ballroom dances as merengue, cha-cha, and the hustle. Students can also breakdance to the thumping beats of hip-hop classes, or sashay with a provided partner through the salsa-like steps of the bachata. Many students enlist in Star Dance School’s lessons in preparation for a wedding or the grand opening of a laundromat with a dance floor.
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.
Tito Gaona's Flying Trapeze Academy defies gravity and provides both beginning sky soarers and naturally airborne gymnasts with expert instruction in flexible flight. Take to the trapeze bar in semi-private class sessions of five to eight students, gliding with newly met friends or toting along your long-lost alter ego or barbershop quintet. Learn the basic swing, dangling deftly from arms and swaying from knees, and then follow up with introductory tricks such as executing taut frontward and backward kicks with limber limbs. For comfortable swingers, the class applies advanced skills such as the catch and return, which involves swinging toward your trapeze partner before flipping over the bar, swiftly grabbing your compatriot's people paws, vacillating back to your perch, and then gracefully fluttering into the springy net below. Sessions are an excellent workout as well as a great way to regain lost confidence in your acrobatic companion after that unfortunate hot-potato incident. Classes are held Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.