Though it may have changed names, owners, and locations, the Southwest School of Dance has remained true to its core philosophy since it was founded in 1974. Whether teaching classes in ballet, hip-hop, or mommy-and-me yoga, Southwest's instructors always prioritize the development of character and self-esteem alongside physical skills.
Russian-ballet instructor Susan Stantefort originally opened the studio as Susan's School of Dance in South Holland, where she taught students for 13 years. When she, like aspiring actor Abraham Lincoln, moved from Illinois to California, she left her former student, Denny Gurley, in charge of the studio. Gurley moved the studio to its current Orland Hills location, renamed it, and helped transition it to the leadership of current director Connie Cogan, also known as Dr. Danz.
Bursting with two fully equipped dance studios and a philosophy of noncompetitive learning, Dance Center of LaGrange brings skilled teachers and a miscellany of dance types to the feet of dancers both young and old. Tykes can twirl toward the 45–60 minute summer-session classes to introduce tentative toes to preballet and creative movement (ages 3–4), learning new moves and gaining confidence while composing a rhythmic symphony with their 10-toed orchestra. The Storycise class (ages 3–5) combines storytelling and exercise to produce a hybrid fitness adventure filled with heart-pumping moves and poses that spell entire novel chapters. Teens can hit up the modern/jazz class for a medley of Broadway-style shimmying, and grown-up steppers can twist into adult tap, lacing up specialty shoes to conquer rapid routines and drum out grocery lists onto the hardwood floor.
The wall decals at Simpoley Dance act as visual reminders of the studio's sassy, supportive atmosphere, catching the eye with taglines such as "You look absolutely gorgeous!" and "My other ride is a pole." Between these slogans, students rehearse giddy spins and limb-lengthening stretches, treating the pole as a simultaneous dance partner and workout tool. The studio's instructors host 60-minute Taste of Pole classes for beginners and 90-minute standard pole lessons, as well as advanced seminars for those who really know how up differs from down. During private parties, they guide groups through choreographed routines that incorporate colorful feather boas. They're quick to espouse the health benefits of their art, which tones physiques and builds strength by using the body itself as resistance. For a more grounded but equally rhythmic class, they also showcase the cardio dance steps of Zumba.
Celebrity Dance Studio’s instructors boast impressive resumés that include years of instructor experience and multiple competitions. At Celebrity, they teach a wide variety of dance styles such as cha-cha, salsa, swing, waltz, tango, and hip-hop to name a few. They lead private and group lessons for people of all ages and skill levels, from absolute beginners to hobbyists with an interest in competing.
As a child, Pia Hamilton danced as Min on the children’s TV show Barney and Friends. Nowadays, she continues to showcase her love of dance at Intrigue Dance and Performing Arts Center, an all-ages studio she co-owns with her husband, actor Dustin Hamilton. The camera-seasoned duo has opened a spacious new facility that houses three dance studios, offering classes such as ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop. They also host musical-theater classes that impart genre-specific dance tips, such as never to dance directly in front of Annie. They accommodate multiple skill levels, introducing both kids and adults to the world of dance.