Mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque Santa Barbara along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves, and in his Samba classes, he introduces students to the history, culture, and traditions inextricably linked to each movement. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
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 an instructor as the teachers 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.
The instructors at Santa Barbara Festival Ballet have honed their teaching skills just as much as their dancing ones. All of them have been extensively trained in tutoring dance, and they coach their students using the renowned Cecchetti Method?a syllabus that progresses from fundamentals to professional-level techniques. The school welcomes dancers of all ages to learn from their practiced staff.
Many performers are already triple threats—experts in acting, singing, and dancing—but Emma Ridley decided to add one more line to her repertoire: fitness. At her alternative health studio, Goddess Fitness Dance, Emma and her instructors eschew the monotonous exercise regimens and carnivorous treadmills of traditional gyms, instead focusing on fun, flirty exercises such as sultry pole-dancing routines and belly-dancing classes—all infused with Emma’s passion for entertainment.
Though all the workouts still subscribe to the concept of repetitions in order to burn fat, Goddess Fitness Dance infuses each workout with an added element of fun. Studio classes teach specific moves that, with practice, can lend grace and allure to students’ dance routines, and the driving force behind every drill is always laughter, not grunts. "You don't need to be a pro to see the results," Emma remarks. "As long as you're moving, you're doing it right!"
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old?12 years old with gymnastics, dance, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
With eclectic backgrounds in ballet, Scottish Highland dancing, and environmental law, California Arts Academy co-owners and directors Julie Ann Keller and Christopher Campbell bring their students their own distinctive expertise and worldviews. Backed by a cadre of instructors, the duo strives to create a space where kids can freely express themselves through gymnastics and musical theater and can elaborate tap-dance routines that summon the ghost of Fred Astaire. California Arts Academy was also named Favorite for Children's Dance Classes, Art Classes, and Live Theater by the readers of the Central California Parent Magazine 2012-2014. Not content to just offer classes, Keller and Campbell hold semiannual auditions for their performances.