Arthur Murray Dance Studio 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. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. 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.
A crimson curtain rises to unveil the operas, nationally touring musicals, children's shows, and films that pass under the historic movie palace's gilded ceiling. Originally built in 1926 as a home for vaudeville performances and motion pictures, the grand venue has survived more than eight decades with the help of The Garde Arts Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization that formed in 1985 to both preserve the building and pursue its mission "to engage, enrich, entertain, and inspire the region of Greater New London." Today, the center stages a slew of performances and events that keep guests on the edges of all 1,472 seats.
Cofounded by the legendary Hollywood dancer himself, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio hosts a team of seven veteran instructors who specialize in ballroom and Latin dances ranging from the rumba to the waltz. Students can build their cache of moves in private lessons with personalized curricula or practice with their peers in the convivial atmosphere of group classes. High-octane Zumba classes help to combust calories, imparting Latin-inspired choreography in an atmosphere that is festive but doesn’t expose students to dangerous swarms of flying champagne corks. Youngsters build their poise in dance classes that cover five different styles, ranging from ballet to hip-hop, and engaged couples prepare to glide elegantly across the dance floor at their nuptials with wedding-oriented classes.
Jared Andrew Studio's five licensed instructors deliver both fitness and performing-arts instruction within a fun, encouraging environment. Dance classes focus largely on the performance aspects of beginning tap, ballet, and jazz, which teaches every student how to jitterbug with a tuba in case they can't find a partner at wedding parties. Meanwhile, 10 Zumba fitness classes motivate bodies of all shapes and ages to shed weight and tone up with pumping Latin-inspired beats and energetic movements. Participants can shimmy and shake away calories within a supportive group atmosphere until they are lean enough to hide themselves in a stack of paper.
Alisa Bowens can teach the newest of newbies how to salsa—just watch her episode of MTV’s Made for proof. On it, she taught teenage sisters with no dance experience how to salsa, and she does the same for students at her studio, Alisa’s House of Salsa. She teaches the spicy Latin dance to groups, as well as in private lessons, during which she is able to provide even more technique notes and feedback. She also hosts salsa nights at local restaurants and lounges so that her students can practice in a real-life environment.
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.