The percussiveness of Latin and ballroom music resounds through Sonata Room, where founders and decorated dancers Laura Powell and Brandon Kwae lead private and group dance classes. A champion of the International Grand Ball Championships and Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships, Laura brings her hard-earned talent to the classroom, where she has trained up-and-coming dancers for 25 years. Watching a televised dance championship first spurred Brandon onto the dance floor, his quickly developed skills eventually placing him on the podium in competition. Together, the duo now patiently and technically break down each dance step for their students without using intimidating tactics, such as dancing with the time-out chair. Their spacious, dimly lit, and wood-floored studio also hosts occasional events, including bimonthly ballroom-dance parties.
It's Wednesday night. As workers across the city face the prospect of another hum-drum commute, a select few make their way to corner of Allen and Casa Grande. There, instead of enduring the scenes of gridlock, these students of movement immerse themselves in the sounds and steps of Latin America. They're met by Lumina Academy's seasoned instructors, who've created a salsa curriculum that leads small groups through basic steps to advanced, performance-ready moves, all with an emphasis on salsa as a social dance.
Whether they come with or without a partner, students of all experience levels gain familiarity and skill during small group sessions before showing off their newly acquired moves at parties. Classes emphasize lead-and-follow techniques, with instructors encouraging students to rotate partners so they can practice with various statures, skill levels, and numbers of feet.
In addition to salsa, the school specializes in other dance styles ranging from stately flamenco to hypnotic belly-dancing. To complement the grace and rhythm of their dance classes, instructors also offer exercise-based classes such as yoga and hip-hop boot camp, which combines sweat-inducing moves with invigorating music.
Arlene Santos’s love of dance has been a constant her entire life, starting as a childhood curiosity and transforming into a lifestyle. Since founding Lumina Academy of Dance in 2003, Santos has created a salsa curriculum that leads small groups through basic steps to advanced, performance-ready moves, all with an emphasis on salsa as a social dance. At her studio, she invites dancers to come with or without a partner and start at any experience level before she turns them loose at parties. Her classes emphasize lead-and-follow techniques, and she encourages her students to rotate partners so they can practice with various statures, experience levels, and numbers of feet. To complement the grace and rhythm of her dance classes, Ms. Santos also offers exercise-based classes such as yoga and hip-hop boot camp, which combines sweat-inducing moves with invigorating music.