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.
Walking a mile in someone else's shoes can be very educational, especially if the shoes belong to Mandy Carlisle, a professional dancer. As a competitive American Rhythm Style ballroom dancer, Mandy has toured the country and racked up awards—she's been ranked among the top 13 dancers in the United States, placed second in the United States Professional Rising Star Rhythm Championship, and conducted an undefeated run as the Fred Astaire National Rising Star Rhythm Champion. In her spare time, she has earned teaching certifications in more than 13 styles of dance (among them, classic ballet, hip-hop, and jazz) and opened her own studio, Aspire Dance.
Mandy and her staff of 12 instructors hone the skills of young dancers, providing a reception area for parents to wait and witness progress. For adults, the teachers conduct fitness-focused classes. Latin-inspired Zumba classes boost cardiovascular endurance, whereas yoga sessions cultivate flexibility and balance so that you can finally touch your toes while standing on stilts.
Everybody's welcome to learn to turn, twirl, and trip the light fantastic at Dance Defined Studio. The studio offers classes in hip-hop, ballet, lyrical, jazz, tap, and pointe for women, men, and kids of all ages. Small-group classes ensure each dancer receives ample individual attention.
Arthur Murray Dance Studios has been a leading name in social 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. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with certified instructors. 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.
Dance Fabulous's instructors think that dancing should be a stress-free experience. With that in mind, they’ve crafted a lineup of commitment-free drop-in classes that introduce students to hip-hop grooves, teach them core-strengthening belly-dance shimmies, and help party away calories with energy-packed Zumba moves. The lineup also includes more sensual classes meant to boost students' confidence, such as aerobic striptease dance and core-strengthening pole dance. During Hot Heels Hour classes, participants learn a new routine designed to be performed in pumps, which help strengthen cores, lift buns, and aerate the front lawn if practiced at home.
In addition to their drop-in classes, the instructors also schedule private lessons, which may cover the styles taught in group classes or focus on ballroom techniques or wedding choreography. Their adult parties come with similar themes, with lessons in styles from break dancing to striptease to Irish step. The studio was also named one of The Daily Page's picks for best places for a kids' birthday party; soirees can center around such themes as cheerleading, West African dance, and ballet. The staff offers a kids' hip-hop classes and a once-a-month family dance party, during which parents can tenderly pass down their ability to do the worm.