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.
Amanda Hart uses the art of dance to help young minds grow creatively. Under her direction, kids as young as aged 3 participate in imaginative games, vocabulary exercises, and short combinations to improve their gross motor skills and self-discipline. Students showcase the ballet and tap moves they've learned during small recitals each June.
Arthur Murray 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. 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.
Helmed by professor and capoeira expert Muito Tempo, Capoeira Batuque Pasadena fills with the rhythms that drive the fast-paced sport. In group classes, instructors introduce the fundamentals of capoeira, which fuses the moves of martial arts, the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance, and the circular formation of Duck, Duck, Goose into a vibrant and aerobic form of exercise. Classes consist of two participants dancing around each other in the middle of the circle, exchanging movements of attack and defense in a frenzied but controlled flow. The classes maintain their lively pace by fueling the acrobatic movements with music heavy in complex, quick polyrhythms played on a range of traditional percussion instruments.