The skilled instructors at Tango Cafe Dance Studio train bipedal pupils of all levels in salsa, ballroom, and Argentine tango. Over the five weekly sessions offered in the salsa discipline (a $50 value), Kerri Vaughn, Ruben Fuentes, and Darin Price will immerse students in their choice of style, such as Cuban and Puerto Rican club style, NY/LA style, and Rueda de Casino. Students are placed in a Level 1, 2, or 3 class depending on swivel experience; as they master the rhythm and their hips learn how to roll their r's, students will learn to both lead and follow dance partners, perform increasingly complex turns, and pull off scintillating combinations. Alternately, the ballroom sampler enrolls feet in six Saturday afternoon classes that cover six of the most popular toe-tapping dances, including the foxtrot, waltz, and cha cha. Meanwhile, the Argentine tango course, taught by Joffrey School of Ballet–trained Diana Kelly, introduces students to several types of Argentine tango, including salon, nuevo, and performance on Thursdays at 7:45 p.m. All the while, Tango Café's convenient online schedule lets dancers coordinate class times with the cat's clarinet lessons.
Christine Fendley, founder of Park Avenue Dance Company, became something of a renaissance woman in the world of dance and eventually moved into choreography, raking in a slew of grants from the likes of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Wulitzer Foundation. Alongside the practical experience, Christine has taught children, teens, and adults the graceful art for more than 40 years.
At Park Avenue Dance Company, she leads a troupe of experienced dancers that has been delighting audiences for more than 35 years, performing abstract contemporary movement and the occasional knock-knock joke. The company frequently takes the stage in collaboration with other affluent members of Toronto’s artistic community, including Just Poets and ArtisanWORKS.
Fendley and her team of instructors also teach adults and children of all abilities to perform contemporary, jazz, and barre moves. Their story dance and dance-creation classes teach little ones the joy of dance through lessons in rhythm, improvisation, and classical technique. They also help older students get in shape with Pilates, yoga, and dance-fitness classes.
Groove Juice Swing's nine multitalented dance instructors, many of whom also play instruments, have spent more than a decade helping novice dancers sharpen their rug-cutting skills during private and group classes, which focus on Jazz Age and swing-era styles. In their quest to master the art of swing, students shuffle their feet through three levels of dance classes that build on one another, beginning with level-one classes covering the basics. Level-two classes, which focus on the lindy hop, teach participants to float on air as if they were standing on a floor of industrial fans, and level-three classes delve into more advanced techniques, such as doing the Charleston with a partner.
Outside of Groove Juice Swing––located at Tango Cafe’s dance studio––passersby can hear jazzy tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Nina Simone emanating from lively dance classes held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. Aside from classes, students can flaunt freshly learned skills during Groove Juice Swing’s annual Stompology workshop or events with live bands hosted by dance experts Steven Mitchell and Virginie Jensen.
When Marina Lisser was 14, she decided to take up dancing, despite the fact that in her native Russia, she was considered much too old to start. Firmly flouting social convention, she thrived, competing at the professional level and landing a fifth-place finish in the European Cup finals. Eventually, she went on to earn a master's degree in Dance Forms and write a dissertation on the psychology of competition.
But none of that prepared her for the shock that awaited her when she landed in New York City to work for Fred Astaire Dance Studios in 1993. She hadn't realized she'd be teaching a totally new kind of student: adult amateurs. She'd only taught professionals and children who wanted to dance for a living. If 14 was too old to start dancing in Russia, how would she teach adults in America?
Through trial and error, she figured it out by ignoring, according to a feature in Democrat and Chronicle, whatever holds her students back. "I'm one of those horrible Russian teachers," Marina confessed. "We want what we want; there is no such thing as limits."
Today, she and her staff of instructors specialize in two styles: American Smooth and Rhythm, and International Standard and Latin. Students learn to waltz, tango, and foxtrot atop the ballroom's sprung wood floor, which cushions feet and joints, while wall-length mirrors help them self-correct their form. In addition to teaching social dance skills and helping affianced couples prepare for their first dance, the instructors also ready competitive dancers to take first place medals in everything from cabaret dancing to swing, often by deftly prancing over the laser security systems that guard them. Marina is certified in dance therapy, as well as social and competitive wheelchair dancing, to make dance accessible to everyone.
A panel of certified instructors is ready and waiting to instruct students in the ways of balance and coordinated rhythmic motion. Bring a partner to your two Latin- and/or ballroom-dance lessons, or fly solo and dance with your instructor. In either case, you'll leave with a sharper command and understanding of the dance. These lessons are ideal for a betrothed pair prepping for the big wedding dance or a fledgling fitness-seeker looking for a fun new way to get in ship shape. Whether you're an experienced dancer hoping to brush up on certain techniques or you have two left feet for feet and two right feet for hands, the lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio offer bountiful, dance-based benefits.
At Perinton Dance Company, creativity and experimentation rather than strict formalism guide movement and music classes for kids and adults. Instructors with performance degrees and bundles of stage experience teach more than 15 styles of dance, including jazz, hip-hop, tumbling, social dancing, and ballet. The school's kid-friendly studios and art spaces bloom with interdisciplinary cross-pollination: summer camps revolve around themes such as “Storybook Dance”, where children learn dances, play games, and make crafts related to each story. Evening classes touch on a variety of dance styles, including hip-hop and musical theatre.