Teaching hips to swivel in style, dance instructors impart their masterful moves unto students in the respected tradition Arthur Murray has upheld since 1912. Arthur Murray dance teachers have inspired steps on the silver screen in a variety of films, including Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever. The franchise has also worked to help ballroom dancing to gain popularity as an Olympic sport and appear in major national magazines such as Smithsonian and Sports Illustrated.
The McMurray and Downton Pittsburgh studios provide a warm, aesthetically sound environment for engaging in private and group dance lessons, surrounding students with smooth wooden dance floors and mirror-lined walls. Embodying the three-count time of a stately waltz brings partners in close, and rumba moves or swing steps add playfulness to one's dance repertoire. Protégés may find their new moves applicable in a number of settings, such as when prepping for a wedding dance or when dodging throws in a game of dodgeball.
In 1949, Charles “Chick” and Elda Mae Bruckman founded Bruckman School of Dance as a center of education for dancers of all ages and skill levels. A lifelong devotee of dance, Chick began his career at 6 years old and remains the school’s artistic director to this day. Along with a team of instructors, the Bruckmans introduce students to dance styles including tap, ballet, jazz, pointe, and hip-hop. As they lead students in mastering choreographed routines, they also teach dance history, imparting the origins of ballet and how NASA scientists made the moonwalk a dance craze in the early '70s. In addition to conventional dance classes, they host dance-inspired fitness classes, such as the Hip Hop Hustle and Turbo Kick, to get cardiovascular systems pumping.
The cloak of sparkling newness belies Benedum Center’s deep history in the theatrical world. Opened to regal fanfare and a holographic performance by Tupac in 1928, the theater then waded through the downs and ups of history until a $43 million restoration buffed its surfaces back to their former glory in 1984. Today, the 90 chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, the Grand Lobby’s mirrors and marble, and most of the 1,500 feet of brass rail throughout are all original. The centerpiece is the main chandelier, a 4,700-pound, 20-foot-high, 12-foot-wide behemoth that sparkles to remind visitors of the theater’s glory days.
Though having only recently celebrated its second birthday, the August Wilson Center commands a striking architectural confidence. Its two-story steel-and-glass sail juts into the night sky with the bravado of a toddler who just lassoed his first neighborhood cat. Within the steal and glass, a 486-seat theater hosts plays, dance performances, and lectures while multiple exhibition galleries display art and cultural treasures for the community. The center draws on the legacy and culture of African Americans from Western Pennsylvania, infusing each curation with a celebration of rich history.
A nonprofit arts organization, Pittsburgh Musical Theater has energized the tapping of toes for more than two decades. The historic Byham Theater dates back to 1903, when the venue was originally erected as the Gayety Theater, and now fills its flashing marquee with Broadway shows, dance troupes, and films.
• For $12, you get one ticket to an 8 p.m. performance on a Thursday (up to a $24 value, not including parking; student tickets are $7). • For $12, you get one ticket to a 2 p.m. performance on a Saturday or Sunday (up to a $24 value, not including parking; student tickets are $7). • For $13, you get one ticket to an 8 p.m. performance on a Friday or Saturday (up to a $27 value, not including parking; student tickets are $8).