Josefina Garcia and Lisa Martinez have been studying dance since they were each 5 years old. Together, they started J and L Dance Center in 1992 to pass on their know-how and instill a strong sense of self-worth in each of their protégés. These days, they usher students to win awards and recognition at showcases and competitions throughout the country. Newbies of all ages train under these masters and a crew of skilled instructors who specialize in a range of genres including ballet, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, and jazz styles. Wood-sprung floors in all three dance rooms cushion the fall of toes and feet in flight, and wall-to-wall mirrors throughout the space enable students to dance-battle their reflections.
The Bridge for Dance's faculty draws upon varied backgrounds in theater, dance, and Pilates to lead adult and children students of all levels through a class schedule brimming with a range of disciplines. Hip-hop courses harness a driving beat to move graceful limbs, and classical ballet instruction grants pupils the stunning poise of a valedictorian peacock. Ease into fitness-centric Zumba and yoga sessions to chisel core muscles, or take up tap dancing and send coded messages to downstairs neighbors. Most classes are 60–90 minutes long and suitable for beginners. In addition to introducing the pleasures of stylized movement, Bridge for Dance hosts the Uptown Performance Series, which showcases the works of burgeoning choreographers through performances by veteran dance companies.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur fire walking.
A comprehensive dance and movement facility, Manhattan Movement & Arts Center provides movers and shakers of all sorts a space for learning, rehearsing, and performing. MMAC classes are taught by renowned dance educators and dancing queens in obstruction-free studios, which are equipped with sprung floors and kept fastidiously free of rhythmically challenged Godzillas who “borrow” classmates’ leg warmers and return them all stretched out.
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.
From a perch overlooking Times Square, Roy Arias Studios & Theaters sets the stage for prime New Year's Eve partying in a large multipurpose space. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., revelers can peer down at the festivities building in the street below or stroll through seven themed rooms, each serenading guests with its own music incanted by DJs and holograms of Ludwig van Beethoven. Bartenders spend the night filling glasses with wine, beer, and spirits to enhance the evening's carousal. At midnight, each room will broadcast the ball drop on massive video screens that make the actual 3-inch bauble atop the Times Square building look gigantic.
Having survived two kidney transplants, Denise Perry is no stranger to poor health—or to promoting good health. In 1994 in the basement of a local church, she and her first three dance pupils planted the seeds for Millennium Dance Company, a business that embodies wellness. Today, Denise and her staff of international instructors spur more than 200 students—from 3-year-olds to adults—toward a lifetime of agility, fitness, and creativity in adult and youth dance classes. The classes cater to pupils seeking active fun or professional careers, as Millennium's three dance companies have dominated stages at the Apollo Theater, the Bronx Museum, and the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Adult classes range from the sensual swivels of pole dancing to the flowing poses of yoga. For kids, African dance fosters a sense of community as students move as one to the beat of a live drummer. Modern dance presents the opportunity for pupils to choreograph their own routines based on their innermost emotions or the emotions their mood rings recommend. At year's end, all dancers unite for a community recital that showcases each athlete's talent.