Ballroom blitz: local studios to make you “Dancing with the Stars” ready
How to go from two left feet to twinkle toes
So you’ve watched actors and amateurs waltz their way to stardom on reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance—and it looked fun, didn’t it? Well, you’re in luck. There is a slew of local studios willing to teach you the steps, the twirls, the dips, and the kicks of these famous cheek-to-cheek dances. “There are many more ballroom studios open now in Westchester than there were even five years ago,” says Betty Diamond, director of DanceSport Foundation in Briarcliff Manor. So get out your dancing shoes and check out one of these local ballroom studios.
Dance New York: Westchester
565 N State Rd, Briarcliff Manor
Show off your skill with the tango, rumba, foxtrot, swing, cha cha, waltz, salsa, or meringue at its social dances, which take place the second Saturday of every month from 8 to 11 pm. Have a lot of friends willing to come along? Dance New York offers 20-percent discounts for parties of 10 or more.
Prices: Weekly group classes start at $125 for a five-week program; social dance parties cost $15 for non-students and $10 for current students.
515 N State Rd, Briarcliff Manor
Betty Diamond and her husband, Cesar Ortiz, a professional ballet dancer, teach all styles of ballroom dancing—in addition to Argentine tango, club dances, and ballet—on every night of the week except Sunday. They offer open-to-the-public dances on the last Saturday of every month with a hot-and-cold buffet and a free group lesson at 7:30 pm to start things off.
Prices: Class tuition ranges from a $35-per-person drop-in rate to a $299-per-couple “DanzFlex Plus” rate, which includes one private lesson and unlimited group classes. Saturday-night dances cost $15 for non-students and $10 for students.
975 Anderson Hill Rd, Rye Brook
Doral Arrowwood recently decided to extend its popular “Dancing with the Stars” nights through the rest of the year (on select weekends only; call or visit the website for the schedule). After dinner in Doral’s sumptuous Atrium restaurant, dancers from Dance New York: Westchester give an exhilarating performance, then offer a complimentary group lesson to start off the real party.
Price: A “Dancing with the Stars” overnight package, which includes admission, accommodations, Sunday brunch, and gifts to take home, costs $269 per couple; for just dinner and dancing, the price is $42 per person.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio
15 N Broadway, Tarrytown
(914) 366-4695; www.tarrytowndance.net
New students are invited to a free, introductory 30-minute private dance lesson, which the studio hopes will entice you to enroll in a private class. Classes are given in foxtrot, waltz, tango, quickstep, Latin, cha cha, rumba, samba, paso doble, salsa, merengue, hustle, swing, and more. Owners Sasha and Olga Bylim have more than 31 years of dance under their shoes, and maintain that the best way to learn is through their one-on-one, personalized instruction (sorry, no group classes).
Prices: Since Fred Astaire only does private lessons, each session costs $75 to $94.
New York Dance Center
645 Saw Mill River Rd, Ardsley
Besides classes in both American and international ballroom, (think waltz, foxtrot, salsa, cha cha, samba, swing, and other styles), founders and award-winning dancers Dmitri and Svetlana Ostashkin host semi-annual dance showcases in which they rent out a huge 7,000-square-foot ballroom, serve dinner, and host performances by professional dancers before opening up the dance floor to everybody. Until the next one arrives, tide yourself over with the dance parties they host in their Ardsley studio, which takes place twice a month on Fridays. (Call the studio or visit the website for a schedule of classes and parties.)
Price: Group classes cost $15; the smaller studio parties cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door.
Smiths Dancing School
835 Franklin Ave, Thornwood
Take salsa, hustle, tango, and American- and Latin-style ballroom classes in a studio owned by Martin and Desiree Smith, two former Kwazulu Natal Provincial Professional Ballroom State Champions, who also host a “Ballroom and Latin Party” every Wednesday night at 8 pm.
Prices: Adult classes cost $20 per session or $70 for a four-week program, though prices can vary; “Ballroom and Latin Parties” cost $15.
175 Tompkins Ave, Pleasantville
Classes are held daily and can include tango, swing, rumba, waltz, salsa, country, and foxtrot—or even wheelchair classes. Owner Barbara Antes runs a dance therapy called Wheels Dance Sport USA, and she recently sponsored the first American woman at the International Wheelchair Ballroom Dance Competition. (She came in fifth.) Antes also hosts social nights, like the “Ballroom and Latin Dance Party” (first and third Fridays) and the “Argentine Tango Milonga” (third Saturdays), which include a quick dance lesson and refreshments before loads of dancing.
Prices: $15 for group classes; dance parties cost $20 per person and must be reserved in advance.