The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Instructors at the Everybuddy Ballroom Dance Studios believe that stiff, stilted dancing isn't a result of too little talent—it's a result of too much information. Dancing comes naturally to most people, they profess, and harnessing that nature is simply a matter of simplifying the process. When teachers bombard pupils with dance patterns and technical details, the students' brains take over their bodies, leading to awkward steps and uncomfortable performances. At Everybuddy Ballroom Dance Studios, teachers instead introduce students to a few easy steps they can use over many styles of music. Once they feel like second nature, steps are gradually differentiated until every dancer can execute Latin and ballroom moves in a flowing manner. They've dubbed this the SNAP teaching method, and though slow-going at first, it often helps students learn to dance even faster than with detail-heavy or battery-powered dance-shoe methods.
At Blueheel Dance Studio, instructors encourage students to find the dance that?s pulsing within. Using the internationally recognized Professional Dance Vision International Dance Association syllabus, instructors begin by emphasizing simple steps, syncopation, and rhythm. After establishing a firm base, students are set free to explore their skills in group lessons and social dance parties staged on the studio?s expansive hardwood dance floor. Instructors open the door to dance forms that convey a gamut of emotions ranging from love and joy to passion and wild indifference.
Owned by veteran performer and choreographer Perri McCall—whose former students include Dancing With the Stars professionals Mark Ballas and Derek Hough—Performers Dance Studio's faculty teaches all ages the art of body movement in more than 10 disciplines. Within the 3,000-square-foot facility, classes of 15–20 students glide across two studios that sport flooring specifically engineered to support dance. Perri's accomplished faculty represents a diversity of performance backgrounds and specializes in instilling creativity in younger pupils while emphasizing the technical foundations necessary for all ages to be proficient in dance styles such as jazz, musical theatre, hip hop, tap, and Morse code tap.
Toronto Dance Salsa's roster of instructors and more than 70 dance volunteers spin, twirl, and dip more than 5,000 students each year, from both its 1,600-square-foot main studio atop the North York Civic Centre subway and three other area locations. During lessons, instructors concentrate on teaching pairs and singles leading-following skills, as well as basic body movement and styling. While all instructors have their speciality, they all share a passion for dance that kicked-started their careers, and—for many of them—led to performing as well as teaching. An even male-female ratio is emphasized during classes, with experienced volunteers able to jump in and exude a level of comfort and knowledge usually reserved for sweatsuit-clad professors.
To complement the artistic side of the studio, Toronto Dance Salsa also features a full roster of strengthening, conditioning, calorie-burning fitness classes. With a flexible schedule that includes morning, lunchtime, and evening classes, the DayFit program grants students of any schedule with energizing workouts. Power yoga and hatha yoga classes boost flexibility while centering the mind, and Core Fusion melds the ancient art of yoga with the core benefits of Pilates. True to its dance roots, the studio also offers Zumba, a Latin-dance infused class designed to burn calories through invigorating music.
The best way Angela Williams can tell her life story is through dance. In her 20 years of experience, she has practiced disciplines such as jazz, tap, and ballet, placed in several gymnastics competitions, and performed in musical theatre. She earned a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies, holds an Ontario Gymnastics Coaching certification, and has spent her summer months overseeing Zodiac Camp’s dance and performing arts programs for kids.
Bringing all of those experiences together, Angela formed Groove School of Dance, where she and her team of teachers demystify the art of bodily expression. The school’s uncompetitive environment creates a familial atmosphere where kids and adults alike can try their feet at ballet, hip-hop, tap, and Zumba. Groove School’s lessons also cater to students with special needs, such as autism, downs syndrome, and visual and hearing impairments. Their dance-themed birthday parties excite youngsters with performers dressed as princesses, clowns, or superheroes, and can include snacks and a cake with Baryshnikov hiding in the center.