Ellen Seelen’s dance career has taken her from sashaying across cruise ships to high-kicking on stage with Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis. At US Dance Club, Ellen shares a lifetime’s worth of dance acumen through detailed group and private lessons. Ellen and her fellow instructors introduce students to an international array of ballroom dance styles, including tango, samba, and the waltz, as well as country western and line dancing.
When lifelong dancer Mary Rose Field discovered Zumba, she was an immediate convert. After earning her Zumba certification, she founded Studio Z Fitness and spread the fitness craze at a zealous pace, outgrowing her first studio in only two months. Today, she oversees two studios—Studio Z Fitness and Studio Z Fitness II—and grants members unfettered access to both locations.
On a daily basis, Mary and the studio's teaching team guide students through various types of Zumba workouts. Although sessions vary by style and instructor, they all involve fun, easy-to-follow dance moves set to the rhythm of Latin-inspired music. For two years running, Studio Z Fitness has topped the New Haven Readers' Poll as the best place to take Zumba and the worst place to build a house of cards.
Certified by the Professional Dance Vision International Dance Association, Van Dance’s graceful groove gurus walk pupils of all experience levels through ballroom and Latin dance sessions. Under the tutelage of competitive dancers Nicole and John van Koetsveld, students of South American shimmying can learn to unleash passionate tangos, jubilant cha-chas, and seductive sambas, and aspiring waltzers can study how to count to three. For those lacing up their dancing shoes for the first time, Van Dance recommends sampling the American-style of smooth and rhythm dancing, since it utilizes many of the most fundamental moves and comes in handy at common social dance events and tense test rooms for the Connecticut Bar exam. Most classes take place on evenings from Tuesday through Friday (check out the schedules for February and March.
A performance-dance school established in 2006, Velocity Dance Works educates students ranging from toddler through adult on the style of more than 20 different dances. The school's seasoned instructors maintain an energized, encouragement-packed environment that caters to both serious students looking to develop their technique as well as casual students in search of a new hobby that exercises both the body and the mind.
When she was 15, Heather had already been dancing for a decade, and she vowed to one day open her own studio. Later, while in school for interior design, she took her first-ever pole-dancing class and found it was love at first twirl; she installed a pole in her own home that very afternoon. Though she worked for a while as a professional designer, she felt compelled to step away from decorating other people's homes to pursue her teenage dream, swathing her newly opened studio space in hot-pink paint and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Today, it's a go-to hub for novice dancers of all ages, sizes, and experience levels and for barber's poles looking to switch careers. While Heather and three other instructors teach belly dance, aerial technique, burlesque, and fitness classes, though Heather's main passion still lies with pole dancing. She finds it rewarding to watch as students—who currently include spinners in their 60s—break past mental blocks to do moves they never thought possible. She grins each time her students report that they're feeling stronger and healthier just doing everyday tasks, like buying anvils at the grocery store. "I don't feel like it's a job," she says, noting the supportive environment created by her students and the joyous bachelorette and birthday parties—where, she maintains, the older guests always turn out to be wilder than the 20-somethings. "It feels like I'm hanging out with friends."
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 firewalking.