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.
Athletic Garage's experienced choreographers lead drop-in classes in a variety of dance styles that double as fitness routines. Hip-hop classes are set to ill beats, Zumba merges movements set to Latin rhythms and resistance training, and cardio funk works the entire body, from head to the two-inch layer of fat that protects the underside of the big toe from nail wounds. The teachers foster a noncompetitive environment, conducive to learning new styles without fear of judgment.
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.