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.
First Stage recently celebrated its 26th anniversary as a children's theater, producing professional productions and developing new plays. It has hosted 40 world premieres and worked with renowned artists and authors including Stephen Schwartz and Cornelia Funke.
Through its theater academy and education program, First Stage aims to inspire a love of learning amongst young people with active teaching tools and a curriculum that emphasizes imagination. The theater-in-education programs reach roughly 20,000 students every year through theater residencies and in-classroom workshops such as the Bully Ban workshop, which teaches students how to respect one another and prevent harassment through improvisational exercises. Schools can also partner with First Stage to bring the arts into their facilities with field trips, workshops, and arts-integrated teaching.