After spending time in Quaking Grass's furnished loft studio, you learn why some of the yoga, Zumba, and holistic-dance instructors refer to the space as their "big living room." Once inside the studio, you find yourself in a sprawling, high-ceilinged loft. Natural light spills in from tall windows and onto green walls, where African art and decorative Asian fans hang. Scanning the room, you see plush furniture, a kitchenette, and a massive Native American dream catcher, painted white and hanging 6 feet to the floor.
Quaking Grass is home to the Healing Arts Collective; many of its members left positions as businesspeople, teachers, and lawyers in favor of a more relaxed lifestyle. According to director Heather Straube, they each felt called to help others through techniques such as massage, yoga, and dance. Instructors lead students through progressive poses in Vinyasa yoga, dances set to Latin and Caribbean beats in Zumba, and blends of meditative martial arts and freeform movement in Earthquake Ecstatic and Nia dance. Though they guide some classes step-by-step, instructors emphasize free exploration over adhering to a strict routine—reminding students that they can meditate silently, pair off with partners, or dance alone to practice leading and following at the same time.
Once each month, Quaking Grass's members also host an open community clinic, experimental salon, and potluck. Practitioners stationed throughout the space introduce curious guests to basics of tarot-card reading, massage, hypnosis, quantum touch, and a host of other holistic methods—with the hope that visitors, like babies balancing their first checkbooks, experience something new. Individual members, artists, or community practitioners may also lead workshops or lectures explaining their craft.
When Lisa Stark's quest for a sensual, laid-back exercise class turned up nothing, she took matters into her own hands. To forge her ideal workout, which is a balance of sexy sizzle and athletic toning, Stark researched popular dance-fitness styles, documented choreography at local clubs, and even enlisted a former exotic dancer to teach her how to kick, saunter, and fill out tax forms in a sensual manner. The months of studying paid off?today, Lisa shares her wit, warmth, and fitness regimen with troupes of women at The Exotic You. Ladies of all fitness levels gather for classes that teach a complete routine of sensual dance moves, checking negative body-talk at the door and summoning their inner vixen out with slow leg extensions and passionate hip rolls.
Dance with Joy Studios owner Rachel Lidskog, along with her team of professional instructors, whisks fledgling hoofers around three hardwood-floor studios, infusing their feet with new knowledge of salsa, swing, tango, country, and ballroom.
She and her team identify private lessons, group classes or special workshops, fitness classes such as NIA and Zumba, and weekly dance parties as the best ways to learn to dance, superior even to dropping a family of ants into your overalls. They also organize wedding-dance lessons to ensure nuptial celebrations progress smoothly and cheerfully.
At Uptown Ballroom, expert instructors trot out their experience competing at the amateur and professional level to lead students toward dancing acumen. Classes set the ballroom floor ablaze as twinkle-toed senseis cover a variety of styles including the waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, salsa, and west coast swing. Instructors work on each student?s individual strengths or weaknesses during private lessons, restoring two left feet with two deft feet in time for social-dance parties where guests can mingle and try out their new moves. The studio also holds Zumba classes designed to increase heart rates for a cardio routine more effective than imitating a hamster on a public-park carousel.
Over the 20 years they've been dance partners, 18 years they've been married, and 10 years they've spent bringing dance into schools, Cynthia and Michael Parent have mastered American style dancing together. They duo helms Impressions Dance Club, where they teach American-style dancing techniques such as Swing, along with the Rumba, and Tango. Students seek their tutelage during group and private lessons for adults, and also show up for the studio's Friday night social dance events where students can mingle and practice their newly acquired moves.