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.
Edie Ollwerther grew up a touring dancer, with television and teaching credits to her name. When she married, she took a break—but it wasn't long before neighborhood parents knew of her history in dance. They encouraged her to begin giving lessons to their children, and Edie obliged by transforming her basement into a studio space.
That was in the 1970s. Today, Edie and her fellow instructors—some of whom are former students, now grown—act as the heads of a continually growing family of dancers. Their curriculum encompasses tap, jazz, ballet, and musical theater, as well as vocal coaching and hip-hop routines. Some of their pupils learn to shimmy as a hobby, and others aim to join the competition team, whose performances have taken them to Disney World and aboard a Carnival Cruise ship.
Adrienne Logan is a dance guru, and she's got the resume to prove it; she was a student of Fred Kelly (Gene Kelly?s brother), studied at the Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway, and she's now the owner of Just off Broadway. Along with a faculty of talented dancers, she leads classes for students of all ages in disciplines such as jazz, musical theater, and tap. Aspiring ballerinas can study under resident ballet maestro Andrea Kron, who studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, performed in Radio City Music Hall, and danced as a Rockette. Like eating a bowl of pure cane sugar for dessert, the need to dance has no age limit, which is why the staff also leads dance classes for adults, as well as fitness classes such as Pilates, Zumba, and barre fitness.
The consortium of professional instructors at the many 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.
Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.
Catering to aspiring dancers as young as 18 months, A Dance Place offers lessons in a non-competitive friendly environment to help build youngsters confidence and self-esteem. The littlest dancers can take part in mommy and me classes or creative movement sessions, which instill them with a love of physical expression. Ballet, tap, and hip-hop lessons, meanwhile, allow pupils to delve into more specialized disciplines.