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.
For 72 years, the family of instructors at Trudy's School of Dance has inspired dancers from head to toe with classes ranging from classic ballet to freestyle hip-hop to the fancy partner footwork of the Carolina shag. Students of all ages pack into two spacious studios, undulating their way through lessons in tap, ballet, jazz, or lyrical dance, all structured according to National Dance Standards. Featured on MTV's Made, hip-hop instructor Neasy Griffin oils students' joints for flawless popping and locking, and national shag dance champion Linda Walker guides novice hip swivelers through the jaw-dropping kicks, spins, and handshakes of South Carolina's state dance. Foot-tapping pros at Trudy's thrust exercise-minded participants through a gauntlet of fitness-themed classes as well, offering such calorie-burning courses as the hip-hop Workout JamCrew, the rhythmic Tapercise, or the heart-pounding course in cardio shoe-tying.
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 cha-cha. 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.