Writing and gross motor skills; math and nutrition; fine motor skills and social etiquette. Physical and social development may seem unrelated, but connecting the two can boost cognitive ability in growing children. That’s why WisdomGym Preschool always incorporates movement into its academic sessions. WisdomGym is just one branch of the Horizon Complex, which fosters a healthy community by teaching kids of all ages dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading skills.
Children as young as 4 months old can participate in gymnastics classes that help build motor skills through playful routines and exercises. At age 2, children can begin dance classes that progress to advanced levels of ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. In cheerleading classes—for ages 4 and older—students can practice tumbling and chants with the goal of one day learning to successfully chumble. As kids play, parents can wait out in the lobby and peer through the windows that open into most classrooms.
An avid dancer since his teens, Casey Reed trained and coached alongside top dancers and choreographers—14-time U.S. ballroom champion Mark Brock among them—before earning his certification as an American and International Style Ballroom Instructor. Today, with his team of expert instructors, Casey draws on more than 10 years as a salsa and Latin specialist to teach ample forms of social and competitive dance to beginning and advanced students alike during group and private lessons. When each week of instruction comes to an end, Salsalogy Dance Academy hosts a Friday-night dance social, where guests can try out the latest salsa, waltz, or swing skills they've mastered to the backbeat of Latin dance music. In the meantime, instructors exercise along with clients at dance-based fitness sessions, teach kids and teens salsa and Latin fundamentals, and help couples choreograph wedding dances that distract attention from their joyfully sobbing parents' rendition of the Macarena.
At Moveir Dance Studio, instructor Mark Tetro de-mystifies the in-tandem movement of ballroom dance in a 3,500-square-foot studio boasting a competition-size dance floor. Tetro follows Dance Vision International Dance Association syllabi, with vetted lesson progressions and top-notch teaching techniques. The studio invites students of all levels to learn a variety of American and international dance styles, such as tango, ballroom, Latin, west coast swing, and Viennese waltz, in one-hour group classes. Weekend open dance sessions allow twirlers-in-training three hours to strut their stuff to a variety of music in a supportive, fun environment. Progressive group workshop partakers attend two two-hour workshops, geared toward long-term retention of choreography and steps, over two weeks.
The Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Michigan’s only professional ballet company, is dedicated to staging artistic productions that lift the spirit while inspiring the toes. Who Cares?, named for composer and pianist George Gershwin’s jazzy ode to impartiality, is an energetic if indifferent ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, co-founder and founding choreographer of the New York City Ballet. Balanchine used Gershwin's Broadway hits to compose a ballet that pays homage to the popular pianist’s exuberance, American spirit, and dislike of toothpaste. Grammatically incorrect songs may include jazz standard "I Got Rhythm" and "'S Wonderful," which was notably sung by Gene Kelly in An American in Paris. Before the main event, the stage will flutter with tutus and sparkle with tiaras during Raymonda Pas de Dix.
Specializing in personalized one-on-one instruction, Our Dance Studio acquaints dancing dilettantes with the basics of their favorite style, including ballroom, Latin, swing, salsa, and country-western dancing. During private lessons (a $150 value), students can bring a partner or fly solo and foxtrot across the spacious dance studio with an experienced instructor. The 55-minute lessons are ideal for spouses-to-be prepping for their first dance or those simply looking to dancersize their way into a pair of skinny skivvies. Stick to the regal waltz, re-ignite toe-tapping passions with the salsa, or add a boot-scoot boogie to your personal repertoire with a country-western lesson. Following the conclusion of their second session, students can test out new moves and mingle with other newly-minted jitter bugs during a two-hour open dance (a $10 value per person). Make your feet happy enough to forget the weight they carry every day by exposing them to the bountiful dance-based benefits of Our Dance Studio’s classes.