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.
When she isn't busy choreographing routines for music videos on MTV, Annette Bergasse trains the next generation of aspiring dancers at her eponymous school. For 30-plus years, Annette and her fellow instructors—all recipients of top awards at national and regional competitions—have helped students hone techniques in both classic and popular styles. The studio's programs focus on everything from the tiptoed grace of ballet to the more loose-limbed moves of hip-hop.
As part of Annette's chorus and competition program, the school's most talented pupils even participate in dance competitions, workshops, and performances for local charities. Such intensive training has helped launch students into professional gigs in Hollywood films, on Broadway stages, and as inflatable tube men outside car dealerships.
Dance icon Gene Kelly once said, “The history of dance on film begins with Astaire.” Since its founding in 1947, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio has continued to turn out dancers with the aid of a pragmatic curriculum that imparts Hollywood–quality footwork. Now taught at more than 140 studios, the curriculum teaches students diverse styles ranging from ballroom to latin to swing and salsa. Stratified by skill level, classes can take students on a journey from rudimentary basics through the foundations of social dance, and then on to more advanced moves, with a trophy system delineating each student’s progress. Dancers of all skill levels and ages can expand their repertoires with group classes, personalized one-on-one instruction, or special wedding dance programs that fortify couples for their first dance as newlyweds.
For Amber Gilbert, dancing isn't just an alternative to walking. She sees dance as a chance to explore one's personality and express it through movement. As owner and director of The Dance Academy, she presides over staff members as they help students of all skill levels to unlock artistic potential through dance classes. The team of seasoned instructors teaches styles including hip-hop, Hawaiian, and classical ballet amid the studio's barres and mirrors. During classes for youngsters, pint-size students hone motor skills through activities that pair music with moves culled from the worlds of ballet, tap, and jazz.
In addition to torching calories during salsa and swing classes, adults can sculpt svelte physiques through relaxing yoga and Pilates sessions and Zumba workouts packed with Latin-inspired aerobics. The studio's competitive training program prepares dancers for national contests and helps them to look natural when they get a single red rose stuck in their teeth.
Rich crimson and jet-black poles punctuate the lustrous hardwood floors paving Fantasy Fitness Studio, where certified dance and fitness instructors aim to enhance both women's self-esteem and fitness through sensual, muscle-toning pole dancing. They bolster their full roster of pole-dancing classes with tutorials on diverse techniques such as hip-hop dance, boot-camp-style workouts, and Zumba, fostering a motivating environment for students of all skill levels during each session. They also host group parties within the elegant studio and can even organize mobile festivities at offsite locations, such as homes or moon colonies.
An instructor of the Argentine tango, James Valentino moves gracefully, his feet instinctively hitting the floor in time with the music that fills the ballroom. As the owner and founder of City Style Tango, Valentino imparts his grace to dancers of all experience levels during private and group lessons, sharing the secrets of the tango as well as other dancing styles such as swing, salsa, and the fox trot. Beyond the classes for adults or children, James encourages his pupils to show off their skills during student showcases or venture together to local clubs to dance amid the real world's oil-slicked floors.