In 1947, on New York City's Park Avenue, the first Fred Astaire Dance Studio—cofounded by the eponymous toe tapper himself—opened its doors to the public. More than six decades later, now boasting schools across North America, the dancing institution still adheres to the legendary Mr. Astaire's curriculum and instruction techniques.
Specializing in social ballroom and competitive dances, the schools' current consortium of professional instructors shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through dance lessons that span from classic ballroom and foxtrot romps to the modern steps of salsa, swing, or mambo. In addition to classes, the studio hosts social practice parties where up to 40 students hone newly acquired rug-cutting capabilities. As foot-charming music blares from the speakers, instructors work to cultivate a lively social setting where each guest can dance, mingle, and surgically correct their second left foot without fear of embarrassment.
For the students of To The Pointe Performing Arts, no dance step is just a dance step. Because the school follows a holistic approach to learning dance, every step comes with a bounty of knowledge—its place in the style, its cultural origin, the muscle movements it requires, and the discipline required to master it. Whether they're 6-year-olds encountering their first tap shoes or high-school students refining their skills in Russian ballet technique, the team of experienced dance instructors make it their business to forge not only great dancers but educated citizens of the world. In addition to youth classes, the studio also offers DanceFit and tap classes for adult students.
In the 1930s, big bands and lauded musicians played a famous bar called Weilers and would one day become Memories Dinner Theater. The music bounced off the very same 2,500-square-foot maple dance floor, tamarack log ceiling, and twin stone fireplaces that remain today, though Memories has since expanded its entertainment options beyond song and dance.
As guests feast on three-course meals, the theater's roster of top-notch actors tackle dramas, musicals, audience-interactive murder mysteries, and comedies. The laughs continue on Chicken Comedy nights, when funnyman Rob Haswell hosts renowned comedians whose jokes keep diners chortling in between bites not of rubber, but of roasted chicken and food from an unlimited buffet.
The Little Gym of Gurnee, a branch of the nationwide network of Little Gyms, fosters educational wonderment, physical development, and self-confidence in children aged four months to 12 years old through engaging, interactive classes. Trained instructors lead the classes and impart motor skills, language development, and leadership skills through karate and dance classes, as well as brain boost activities—all with the goal of encouraging age-appropriate development in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere.