Groove Juice Swing's nine multitalented dance instructors, many of whom also play instruments, have spent more than a decade helping novice dancers sharpen their rug-cutting skills during private and group classes, which focus on Jazz Age and swing-era styles. In their quest to master the art of swing, students shuffle their feet through three levels of dance classes that build on one another, beginning with level-one classes covering the basics. Level-two classes, which focus on the lindy hop, teach participants to float on air as if they were standing on a floor of industrial fans, and level-three classes delve into more advanced techniques, such as doing the Charleston with a partner.
Outside of Groove Juice Swing––located at Tango Cafe’s dance studio––passersby can hear jazzy tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Nina Simone emanating from lively dance classes held every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. Aside from classes, students can flaunt freshly learned skills during Groove Juice Swing’s annual Stompology workshop or events with live bands hosted by dance experts Steven Mitchell and Virginie Jensen.
Christine Fendley, founder of Park Avenue Dance Company, became something of a renaissance woman in the world of dance and eventually moved into choreography, raking in a slew of grants from the likes of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Wulitzer Foundation. Alongside the practical experience, Christine has taught children, teens, and adults the graceful art for more than 40 years.
At Park Avenue Dance Company, she leads a troupe of experienced dancers that has been delighting audiences for more than 35 years, performing abstract contemporary movement and the occasional knock-knock joke. The company frequently takes the stage in collaboration with other affluent members of Toronto’s artistic community, including Just Poets and ArtisanWORKS.
Fendley and her team of instructors also teach adults and children of all abilities to perform contemporary, jazz, and barre moves. Their story dance and dance-creation classes teach little ones the joy of dance through lessons in rhythm, improvisation, and classical technique. They also help older students get in shape with Pilates, yoga, and dance-fitness classes.
As if composed of liquid, William D'Ovidio, the co-owner of Aerial Arts of Rochester, cascades down from the ceiling of his studio, unraveling the bright fabric that keeps him from touching the ground as he performs one of his graceful aerial-silks routines. Along with a troupe of certified instructors, he leads circus arts classes for all experience levels inside his bright, yellow-walled space. He watches as students of all ages soar through the air, swinging on hoops and trapeze, as instructors correct form and a field of marshmallowy mats cushions occasional falls and provides a mid-class sugar boost. D'Ovidio and his instructors aim to create a community of soarers and circus-lovers, also offering circus-themed birthday parties for children and aerial yoga classes for students aged 13 and older.
Tango Cafe Dance Studio's instructors guide new steppers and experienced hoofers through several North and South American dances, such as swing, salsa, and Argentine tango within the confines of a 187-year-old Greek mansion that was the former home of Rochester's first mayor. Practice dance sessions after class give students a chance to cut loose with newly learned footwork and to refine their piercing, seductive gaze while gliding around on the new hardwood dance floors.
The studio also hosts a live concert series, Fandango at the Tango, on Sunday nights, as well as tango and salsa socials several times a month.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Amid an expansive dance floor with columns wrapped in lights, instructors teach many styles of rug-cutting, designing lessons to get students of all ages boogying. Seven days a week, visitors can find the studio bustling with group classes, drop-in classes, and private lessons. The full calendar even includes open social dances that offer a quick lesson on a specific style before setting groups free to put their own spins on the steps. In addition to set classes, special workshops and guest teachers stir a dose of specialty wisdom into the studio's full agenda book.