DanceGardenLA was created by Zahra Zuhair and Jenna, who have been belly-dancing since childhood and have travelled the world accumulating impressive professional credits. Zuhair has trained in traditional folk and Eastern styles?including Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Tunisian?but her specialty is Egyptian belly dance, which she has studied with some of the top teachers in Cairo. She has also been featured on the cover of Zaghareet! magazine and has written, directed, and choreographed productions as the artistic director of the Ghazella Dance Company and Po Na Na Dance Theatre. Jenna acted as a goddess bellydance instructor on an episode of Sex and the City, and made appearances on The Tyra Banks Show and the Food Network program Aarti Party. She has also starred in several bestselling belly dance-instruction DVDs.
Thanks to their more than 50 years of combined teaching experience and a talented team of award-winning instructors, the studio was named the Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing in 2012 by LA Weekly. The site recommended instructor Princess Farhana's "witty repartee (and Hollywood rock-scene anecdotes)," and described the predominantly female atmosphere as "always encouraging, never intimidating." The crew teaches classes including classic and tribal-style bellydance, Bollywood, and cutting-edge dance fitness such as Bellyquake and E5.
Melanie Archer-Dieveney took to Pilates instantly. As a new mother, she turned to the core-strengthening art to reshape her body, and in the process, she began to reshape her life. She was amazed not only by the transformation in how her body looked, but how it felt—she noticed an increase in her energy and focus levels, a very welcome change to the single mom of a 2-year-old. After getting her certification, she decided to create a studio where like-minded exercisers could bring their children to class. Archer Pilates & Wellness originally opened as a small labor of love in her garage. But today, alongside a team of licensed and certified instructors, she leads her classes in a serene studio with gleaming wood floors and numerous props, including Pilates reformer machines, medicine balls, and four brass poles for pole-dancing classes. She has developed a hands-on, customized roster of Pilates classes, ensuring that each guest performs workouts specifically tailored to their goals, whether they want to lose inches or build core muscles strong enough to deflect a sprinting child less than 60 pounds. As adults lengthen and strengthen their muscles, the instructors also lead kids through Pilates and yoga classes, taking a more active and engaging approach to traditional childcare.
Leigh Ann grew up as an actor who was also an athlete: when she was offstage, the SoCal native dove off springboards, jumped hurdles, and fought on the kickboxing mat. Her knack for blending art with athleticism led her to found BeSpun at the age of 25. Leigh Ann competes and receives top honors at national and regional pole-dance competitions, and she has produced and starred in a series of instructional DVDs.
At BeSpun, Leigh Ann and her fellow instructors—also pole-dance champions—teach an extensive array of classes that include single-session and multiweek workshops. Classes’ subject matter ranges from beginners' lessons to master workshops led by special guests. There’s also open-studio time, as well as classes that focus on specialties such as spinning, stretching, and whittling your own pole from a chrome tree trunk. Instructors focus on leading thorough sessions that use time efficiently, and they’re committed to blending fitness with dance training. A lighthearted FAQ page answers potential questions while giving a taste of the studio’s fun-loving atmosphere.
Few professionals can credit Flashdance with rerouting the course of their career. In fact, Richard Giorla could be the only one. The unconventional dance moves he saw in the film motivated the former Pennsylvania Ballet Company member to hit the streets of his new home, Manhattan, and learn breakdancing from dancers at the heart of the movement, trading his own dance expertise as payment. Richard’s career was in full swing when, struck with an injury, he started teaching a ballet-barre class. Though he appreciated its stretching and toning components, Richard craved a more aerobic workout. So he created his own solution—Cardio Barre.
The unique workout consists of high-energy, zero-impact movements that sculpt the long, slender body of a dancer without a student ever having to step foot in a traditional dance studio. As they balance on the ballet barre, or whichever classmate is closest, pupils direct all their focus to one muscle group at a time, while the entire body stays in motion for maximum fat burning. His approach’s pudge-busting abilities have made the fitness method a favorite of many health magazines and celebrities.
Regardless of dress size or dance background, each woman who enters one of The Secret Pole Dance Studios becomes a part of a supportive community. At both the original Culver City studio and the brand new Hawthorne location, instructors dish out compliments as they guide women through choreographed fitness routines, empowering dancers to overcome inhibitions and let loose along the way. During the Pole Diva and Sensual Movement classes, instructors also encourage camaraderie, occasionally breaking participants into groups and have them perform for one another. Though it may seem intimidating, this opportunity to show off in front of a nurturing audience provides students with the opportunity to build self-esteem.
In addition to boosting mental fortitude, the studio's sensual fitness routines also build physical strength; pole-dancing classes sculpt arms and cores, and chair-dancing classes firm up glutes, quads, and newly emerged dorsal fins. Classes unfold in the studios or on location, but the fun doesn't necessarily end once the imaginary bell rings; groups of gals can even reserve the spaces for private dance parties.
Evolve Dance Studio's sultry dance classes have earned Pop Sugar’s praise for their ability to cultivate strength, flexibility, and confidence. Inside the naturally lit studio, talented instructors lead sessions that cover climbs, poses, and more spins than a laundromat filled with pinwheels. The studio recruits decorated dancers to teach many of its classes, including Mina Mortezaie, winner of the U.S. Pole Dance Federation’s 2011 Pole Vixen Championship, Sasja Lee, 3rd place winner of the Pacific Pole 2013 championships, and Brynn Route, winner of the 2011 Miss Texas Pole Star. The dance location was even recently featured on an episode of the Lifetime show, Dance Moms and was considered for a place for the show participants to practice their routines.