Every week, The Palomar Ballroom's 80-year-old space reverberates with a DJ's Latin beats and synchronized salsa shimmies. Beneath a baroque chandelier, couples twirl passionately enough for the New York Times to deem this salsa party the "spiciest spot downtown." Owner and award-winning ballroom dancer Jeremy Pilling prizes the supportive atmosphere that allows his students to commingle at these parties, whose themes can also cover Argentine tango and swing.
To lead up to its festivities, The Palomar Ballroom hosts drop-in classes, weekly series, rehearsals for routines, and private lessons for dancers that range from beginner to expert. During these sessions, seasoned instructors stress the social aspects of dance while teaching the techniques, rotating partners often so that they can learn different ways to twirl, dip, and ceremoniously lacerate a rug. Visiting dance champions also lead workshops on their specialties, showcasing advanced steps in cha cha, samba, swing, rumba, and other styles.
Though they draw from diverse backgrounds in teaching, professional dance performance, and movement studies, the instructors at Agape Dance Academy specialize in classical ballet, following the curriculum and techniques of the Royal Academy of Dance. They also offer courses in contemporary dance. In classes suited for preschoolers and adolescents, they pass on the basics and advanced movements of that centuries-old performance art. And yet their teaching style isn't strictly traditional—instructors work with and encourage each student one on one, promoting emotional as well as physical growth as sessions progress.
At McRae Stables, seasoned trainer Heidi McRae helps form solid relationships between riders and their steeds. That's because she believes that confidence in the connection between equestrian and horse forms the foundation for strong and safe horseback-riding techniques. Through eventing and dressage lessons and summer camp, Heidi and her staff have the chance to instill this confidence in budding riders.
Wings School of Dance's owner and director, Wendy Phillips, started dancing at age four at Sheri's Born to Dance studio in San Jose. Today, at her own studio, the National Dance Education Organization and California Dance Educators Association member leads positive ballet, jazz, and tap classes for students four years and older to help others fill their lives with dance.