At The Dance Within, teaching the steps for belly dancing, hula, Bollywood, and burlesque isn't enough. The instructors also want to teach students about the culture surrounding the dance. The studio features a salon where you can get a henna tattoo, and a boutique shop where you can find dance garb such as burlesque bustiers, Bollywood disc earrings, and jerseys of popular ballet dancers.
Massive Monkees are "Seattle heroes" and "one of the most famous breaking crews in the world." But don't just take the Seattle Times' word for it. The crew earned their bona fides on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, coming in third place overall. They've also popped, locked, and deadbolted their limbs on stage with the likes of Jay-Z, Public Enemy, and 50 Cent, and their trophy case sports first-place prizes from Denmark, the UK, Japan, France, and Korea. The crew has been honored here at home, too; in 2004, Seattle mayor Greg Nickels dubbed April 26 "Massive Monkees Day."
Not content to hoard their skills, the Massive Monkees crew spearheads outreach and educational efforts in Seattle, teaching public classes and mentoring young people. Most of these programs take place at Massive Monkees' studio, The Beacon. Part of Storefronts Seattle's Creative Enterprise Program, The Beacon is a temporary facility. But with community support, it will become a permanent home for all-ages dance classes, a free after-school program, and special events—all guided by a vision of hip-hop and the arts as positive forces. During classes, dancers of all skill levels learn freezes and toprocks or get their hearts pumping with Zumba, funk dancing, and hip-hop/jazz fusion choreography.
Dina Innominato firmly believes that "everybody knows how to dance, even if they think they can't." To prove this assertion, she opened up a neighborhood dance haven with her friend and fellow dance enthusiast Barb Duff in 2003. Over the course of eight years, the passionate duo has taught more than 4,700 classes and seen more than 75,000 students aged 7 to 70 walk through their intimate, mirror-lined studio, previously named Nia Underground. Since opening, they've acquired a team of instructors to help broaden the spread of classes, which now includes hoop sculpting and strength-training courses. Whether they're teaching students in the studio's signature More than Dance class—created and trademarked by both Innominato and Duff—or in the globally-inspired Zumba class, they work to cultivate a supportive and noncompetitive space where people with and without previous dance experience can let loose, shed pounds, and learn new ways to ceremoniously lacerate rugs.
After descending the stairs to the subterranean dance space bathed in soft, red LED lights, students leave their differences at the door. According to a glowing feature in the Capitol Hill Times, all participants, regardless of age, build, or experience level, "move together…hooting and hollering" as they joyously shake, rattle, and electric-slide across the hardwood floor.