This is a guide to places where you can learn to dance in Arizona. You can learn many styles of dance from various cultures. Learning to dance in Arizona is easy, if you know where to go.
While music and dance from Latin America and the Caribbean Islands have had an equally important impact on the United States, the focus here in Arizona is on Mexican styles because of their immense influence on Arizona’s culture.
The influence of Hispanic music on American culture is seen everywhere today. The impact, however, did not happen overnight. Since the early days of Arizona, Hispanic musicians have been a strong presence on airwaves, in dance halls and during celebrations. Most of this music is modeled after what is seen and heard in Mexico and Latin America, but new musical styles unique to the Mexican-American culture have evolved in the Southwest United States.
Traditionally, Mexican culture holds music in the highest esteem, and the earliest Mexican-Americans were no different. As early as the 19th century, Mexican-Americans working on the Southern Pacific railroad had formed brass bands out in the desert.
Band music has long been popular in Mexico as tambora and banda is a variation of this style. Typically, a banda consists of brass and wind instruments and percussion. If strings are present, they are usually in small numbers. Banda is a relatively new style with a jazzier sound, sometimes similar to Big Band music. Hispanic musicians, like Pete Burgarin of Phoenix, played Big Band music with a Latino twist. Banda Sinaloense often performs at outdoor arenas.
Mariachi music rose in popularity during the 1940s as Mexican cowboy music became more prominent. In Mexico, a mariachi band consists of strolling musicians that perform in streets and restaurants. The ensemble includes guitars, trumpets, violins and singers. Sometimes it is accompanied by an accordion. There is no percussion in a mariachi band.
Lupe Esparza is a well-known mariachi player in the Valley.
Musica de Conjunto
Conjunto, or Tejano music, is a style unique to the United States. It was developed in the 1930s by migrant workers in rural Texas. The style is very simplistic as the band needed to travel easily from one place to another.
Usually, conjuntos were groups of four musicians. The instruments were drums, a bass fiddle, a 12-string guitar, and a button accordion. It is believed that the accordion and the polka style of the music evolved from German influences in northern Mexico. The conjuntos followed the migrant workers from town to town and played at various functions. Conjunto spread to Arizona in the 1940s and ’50s and was especially popular in rural areas.
Corridos originated in Mexico and are folk songs that tell a story. One corrido popular in early Arizona was called las cuatro milpas. It tells the story of a farmer who returns to his land after a long absence to find all his work in ruins. Other corridos may tell a tale about the Mexican Revolution or the adventures of a sheriff.
Like music, Latin American dance has a strong identity in American culture. As early as the 19th century, dances from the Caribbean Island, especially Cuba, were performed in US ballrooms. These include the salsa, the rumba, the conga and the cha-cha.
At the Movement Arts Workshop at Kalani, P.O. Box 85211 Tucson, Arizona 85754-5211;Voice:520-624-3799;FAX:520-744-4004;Email; Instructors: Darryl Thomas & Valerie Bergman teach the hottest dance step in Latin dance, Casino Rueda. This partnering dance form is all the rage in Miami and Cuba. The class covers beginning to intermediate Casino Rueda partnering moves. A partner is not required but strongly encouraged. Their website is:http://www.orts.org/Files/Kalani%20Classes.htm. The workshop often has a series of classes which provides 10 days of creative nourishment, strengthening and stretching the potentials of the body, artistic spirit and mind. Their other classes include Aerial Dance; Body Conditioning(based on the principles of Nikolaus technique with a touch of yoga); West African Drumming(traditional rhythms from Guinea); Non-Traditional Partnering(Pilobolus styled partnering movement); Rhythmic Dance(Afro Asiatic dance forms); Modern Dance I; West African Dance(dances from various regions in Senegal and Guinea, taught to the instructor by Bouly Sonko, Artistic Director and former principal dancer for the National Ballet of Senegal) ; Modern Dance II; Salsa; Hip Hop; and Pilates;
Although, Mexican dance did not achieve the same early prominence. Indigenous dances from Mexico were not seen regularly in the United States until the 1960s and ’70s. Thanks to the Chicano movement, a new wave of organizations that teach and perform traditional dances have emerged in the past 40 years. Folklorico is now performed at various celebrations, functions and parades throughout Arizona. A dancer from the group Folklorico, Lindo y Querido performs in the Phoenix parade.
Many Mexican dances have religious undertones while others depict regions in Mexico. Called bailes regionales, these routines are stylized versions of ancient indigenous dances. The costumes, steps and music all represent a particular region in Mexico. Ã¢Â?Â¢ Frances Vacaneri nurtures an unfulfilled dream with every piece of fabric she stitches. Sewing machines hum in her Guadalupe home as she, her daughter and a friend ready outfits for Folklor y Cultura Mexicana performances.
The Spanish presence in Mexico had an influence on dance. Some Mexican dances and costumes appear similar to flamenco, the traditional Spanish dance. In this dance, a story is told through steps and movements. However, it is also true that many dances purposely stray from this style as it is associated with the Spanish conquest.
Other dances are very much like the polka. This was probably influenced by German immigrants in Mexico.
In Arizona, there is a wide variety of all types of dances taught and performed here.
Every year, usually in February, at the Yuma Civic and Convention Center in Yuma Arizona , the Yuma Square & Round Dance Association holds their Yuma Square & Round Dance Festival. Their website is: http://www.xoweb.com/yumadance.htm
Traditional Asian dances vary from nation to nation, and range in style from ceremonial to theatrical. Popular Chinese ceremonial dances include the Dragon Dance and the Lion Dance. Other dances tell a story through precise movements.
Martial arts also play a role in Asian dance. Martial dances are artistic ways to demonstrate fighting skills. Here in Arizona, the traditions of Asian dance are not forgotten. Schools like the Phoenix Chinese School and the Azuma School for Japanese Classical Dance teach folk dance to children and adults. These dances are often performed at cultural gatherings year-round.
Yasmina is a performer, instructor and hosted “The Joy of Belly Dancing” TV show on Public Access TV in Arizona. She has been teaching for the City of Mesa Parks and Recreation since 1989. In August 2004 she started teaching for the City of Gilbert Parks and Recreation. Yasmina performs many styles of Middle Eastern Dance and incorporates the use of many props, such as: sword, jug, canes, tray of candles, basket and snakes. Her classes run all year round and consist of belly workout, beginning, intermediate & advance belly dance classes and beginning American Tribal Style. Check out the current Mesa Parks and Recreation and Gilbert Parks and Recreation brochure for class information and schedule of on-going and special performances of Yasmina. Her teaching style is of the same philosophy as her dance. She does not want her students to be carbon copies of her, but to learn all aspects of the dance. She teaches both the old and new styles of dance and is continually updating her skills to pass along to her students. She attends dance workshops, seminars and dance contests both in State and out of State to keep abreast of what is happening in the dance world. Yasmina also teaches workshops, in and out of state, with her double cane class being the most requested. She has sponsored out of State artists in workshops that were both in dance and Middle Eastern Music. Yasmina took 3rd place in the Headliner category at the 2001 Wiggles of the West dance competition. She was on the editorial staff of Wiggle Hips a belly dance magazine published by Janie and Chris the Two Old Bags. Wiggle Hips has been published for 10 years and will be ceasing publication at the end of the year 2004. Yasmina was featured on the cover of Wiggles Hips in the June/July issue of 1999. In July of 2004 Yasmina took 2nd place in the Headliner category in the Wiggle of the West competition. Yasmina started her TV show along with her husband and family back in January 1990. After 13 years of producing the show the City of Mesa decided to no longer support Public Access TV and our show has come to an end in Oct. 2003. The show was well received by the dance community and general public. The reason for producing the TV show was to show the public what belly dancing is all about and to dismiss the misconceptions of the dance. The Joy of Belly Dancing show was one of the longest Public Access TV shows in the Valley of the Sun. From the production of the TV show, Seven Veils Productions has branched out and produced five professional dance videos for the market. The first video, “Yasmina, an American Belly Dance” is a 30 minute performance tape of seven different dance routines. The next series of videos are, “A Night in the Desert I, II & III”. These videos are also performance videos. These videos were live performance shows highlighting dancers from Arizona. Night in the Desert I & II include eight different dancers performing with a live Greek Band. Night in the Desert III include seven different dancers performing with a live Arabic Band. The fifth video, “Yasmina Live!”, is a collection of highlights from the TV show, The Joy of Belly Dancing. All performances include live music from artists such as: Doug Adams, David Korup, Sirocco, Billy Woods and many more. Yasmina founded Troupe Baladi, a three member dance troupe in January 1994. The performance styles of the troupe were Tribal Fusion, Ethnic and flashy Cabaret. In 1996, Troupe Baladi took 3rd Place in the Wiggles of the West dance competition. Ambera and Yasmina represented Troupe Baladi at the Wiggles of the West dance competition July 2001. The troupe took 2nd place in the Mini Ensemble category. The troupe members have gone their separate ways with new interests in their lives. Yasmina’s newest venture is leaving the corp. world and going into belly dancing full time. Along with Malikah they started Shimmy Bliss Costuming Co. in Feb. 2004 and is creating and importing exquisite belly dance costumes. Malikah went to pursue her graphics design and photography business in May 2004 and Yasmina took the business on full time. With the change in ownership Yasmina has taken Shimmy Bliss in a new direction concentrating on the needs of the American Tribal Dancer. Yasmina will also be teaching more classes and workshops both in and out of state.
Glendale Community College has a class in Belly Dancing as one of their Social Dance classes offered in their Fall 2005 semester. They are also offering classes in: Country Dance(including Arizona Two Step, Progressive Two Step and West Coast Swing), Argentine Tango I, Ballroom I(Fox Trot, Waltz and Tango), Ballroom II(Rumba, Swing and Cha-Cha), Dance Sampler(Merengue, Waltz, Salsa, Swing, Fox Trot, and others), Hot Hot Latin I(Cha Cha, Merengue, Salsa, Rumba and Bolero), Hot Hot Latin II(Advanced patterns and techniques for Cha Cha, Rumba, Salsa), Salsa, and Super Swing(including basic Lindy).
For more information call Olivia Templeton 623.845.3794 or
5 Ways to Register
Choose the course and section number you would like to enroll in.
(example: PED201DF 6118)
Visit the following link for the 5 Ways to Register:
Recommended Ballet and Dance Teachers of Adult Students in Arizona
Many believe that Classical Ballet is the basis of all dance forms and therefore represents the daily study at Eastside Ballet Center. Other dance forms – Jazz and Modern – are also offered there, to acquaint students with other disciplines, thus providing their students with the versatility needed in today’s professional dance world. This studio is in a suburb of Phoenix, and the woman who suggested it specifically recommends taking class with studio director Connie Stine-Molde. According to my correspondent, “She never makes [adult beginners] feel unwelcome, unattractive, or hopeless. . . . She is very highly motivational, encouraging, and professional. She also focuses on correct teaching methods for adults, and how to avoid injury or stress for adult joints and muscles. Her classes tend to be small, 8-10 people in a class, so there is always plenty of personal attention to go around. As long as you have some basic training, and are aware of your level, you can come into any dance class in your level, even if it’s just for the one time.” Their School’s philosophy is that everyone may reap the benefits of dance training: discipline, posture, flexibility, grace, body awareness, mental and physical stimulation. To meet the demands of a diverse population, Eastside Ballet Center offers classes in three divisions which are designed to challenge the physical and technical abilities in an ordered progression for each student. They can be contacted at:
Eastside Ballet Center, 23 South Morris Street, Mesa, Arizona 85210 | (480) 969-3602 and their website is:http://eastsideballet.com/school.php
All About Dance
10810 East Via Linda, Suite 106,
Scottsdale, Arizona, 85259
~ Studio Hours~
Mon-Thurs 2:30pm – 8:30pm
Fri 2:30 – 6:00pm
Sat 10:00am – 1:00pm
For more information you can call :
480.860.8660 or email: email@example.com
All About Dance is a new high energy dance studio that offers an exciting, positive learning experience for children three years of age to adult. Specializing in all types of dance such as Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical Jazz, Tap, Acrobatics, Hip Hop, Pilates, and Pom & Cheer. In their fourth year, owner Kerri (Matz) Bauer, a seven year veteran member of the Phoenix Suns Dance team heads the line-up of talented instructors, who will help fulfill dreams and expand horizons with the ability to DANCE!
3645 E. Indian School Road
Reputed to have a very good adult/open program. One correspondent singles out ballet master Kee Juan Han as “a very good teacher with subtle and interesting combinations. The classes that I’ve taken from them [Ballet Arizona] would not be appropriate for an absolute beginner, but an intermediate or beginner ready to make the jump could do their classes.”
The Forever Young Dance Center
2966 N. Hayden Road (at Osborne)
In the words of the student who recommended her: “I take dance with a teacher named Elizabeth Roper. She is wonderful, and has great belief in everyone! She says she doesn’t see limits. She is happy to accept anyone who is truly interested, whether they have ever had any dance, no matter what weight, height, etc. She takes you as you are and works with you. She pays lots of attention to everyone in class: the classes are not big, so she can do that — plus it’s her nature. She emphasizes the basics at the barre to the point of exhaustion (no not really!), but moves you along with all kinds of interestingly choreographed combos in the center. She also has a great stretch that we do at the barre that she learned in Czechoslovakia, and claims you will not learn at any other studio around here. Its supposed to really help the turn out. I highly recommend her!”
Another Middle Eastern Dance Teacher in Arizona is
PO Box 1813
Gilbert, Arizona 85299-1813
Country of origin: United States
STYLE OF DANCE:
Egyptian (also some North African folk dance)
Description of Dance Classes:
All students learn to dance with finger cymbals.
There is a great emphasis on proper technique.
There is also a great emphasis on learning the dance as a *social* dance.
(If you can’t boogie on down to the music, you won’t have a chance at giving a performance with soul!
Class Schedule & Fees:
Monday evenings 7 – 8pm $40 for eight weeks
Friday mornings 9 – 10am $40 for eight weeks
Daytime private lessons are also available: $30 an hour
Classes: In Angelique’ s home in Mesa, Arizona
You can find her resume, photos and lots of other information on her website.
Learn more about Middle-Eastern dance on her website at:
You can talk about belly-dance and learn about world dance and music events on her e-mail list at: http://www.egroups.com/invite/belly-dance
Are you a Performing Mom? Join a list just for you!
Serious Dance isn’t just for adults. Arizona has several organizations, that focus on teaching children the Arts also. Along with All About Dance(starts with 3 year olds) mentioned above, a few more are:
Tucson Performing Arts-Arts for All, Inc.- Third St. Kids of Tucson Arizona
Arts for All, Inc.
2520 North Oracle Road
Tucson, Arizona 85705 Phone number:
All events offer ASL Interpretation, Audio Description, Wheelchair Accessibility, and Tactile Tours.
They have 12 Current Projects
All classes and projects include children and adults with and without disabilities.
1. After-School Program – Daily classes in music, drama, dance, visual arts, sign language and more bring together children with and without disabilities from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. This was the first project begun by Third St. Kids in 1985. It was begun because children with disabilities had no access to creative programs and few choices for after-school activities. The classes range from the therapy and creative model to the professional training sessions. Classes are affordable and scholarships are available on a sliding fee scale to any family in need. No child is turned away due to the family’s inability to pay. Individual attention may be provided when needed to make the classes or training accessible for the participant. Children who have medical, emotional, intellectual or physical needs are encouraged to participate and become part of the activities. Last year approximately 100 children/week came to our after-school classes.
2. Summer/Winter Arts Camps – These 12-week and 2-week day camps integrate children with and without disabilities through classes in dance, drama, art, music, games and cooking. We have demonstrated in the past 6 years of summer camp that through the Arts children can learn a lot about themselves, begin to feel confident in their creativity and appreciate diversity. The camp counselors are responsible for the care of the campers and the various art teachers are responsible for the class content. The camp counselors are trained to assist each camper in making the classes accessible. This may mean creating a crayon holder out of modeling clay or learning how to wheelchair dance. The campers are divided into small groups by their ages and the counselors teach the typical children about acceptance of disabilities through modeling, talking openly and reading stories about children with disabilities. For many children this is an opportunity to meet someone with a disability and realize that they can be friends. Many of the typical children return year after year and some have come back as counselors-in-training or counselors. Some have entered the human service field as teachers, social workers, therapists, psychologists, etc.
3. Third St. Ensemble Company – Children to young adults audition for participation in the internationally known performing company recognized in the Artist Roster of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. This allows children and youth with and without disabilities to learn about dance, drama and music and to participate in stage productions. Regardless of the family’s ability to pay children/youth are invited to join the company. The confidence, self-esteem and sense of camaraderie that are formed are unique to the Arts. The special benefits of the Arts have improved communication skills, gross-motor skills along with self-esteem and confidence. Children who were shy or had low self-esteem have developed confidence through performing and public speaking. The opportunity to travel with the company has been a valuable cultural exchange for many children. The company has traveled throughout this country, Mexico, Hong Kong, Australia and Czech Republic. The peace-building experience that the members gain about other cultures and countries lasts a lifetime.
4. Respite and Habilitation Support – Families with a member with a disability are paired with direct care staff (inclusion aides) in order to give the family a rest or an opportunity to do things with other family members. The inclusion aides are trained to care for children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, attention deficit disorder, epilepsy, mental retardation, mental and emotional illnesses, various syndromes, etc. Respite care can take place in the family’s home, at our site or in the community. Our customer surveys have shown that the staff are highly regarded and the families feel confident that their family member is in good hands and receiving excellent care. Approximately 40 families/month use this service.
5. Day Program – Persons with developmental disabilities reach their goals through the Arts. This is the only adult program within Arts for All. It was started because some of the children who had attended the after-school program grew up, graduated from high school and needed a place to come to during the day. They either needed supervision or they needed assistance with their personal care. Some parents came to the executive director and asked her to submit a proposal to the State and establish a day program. That is how this project got started five years ago. It is a small day program of 20 adults who enjoy learning through the Arts. The participants vary in their needs for supervision and daily care. The 1:3 ratio of staff to participants allows the individuals more personalized attention. The commitment to integrating adults with disabilities in all aspects of the Tucson community is paramount to this project. The uniqueness of merging Arts and Human Services makes Arts for All, Inc.’s Day Treatment and Training Program stand out not only in the Tucson Community but nationally.
6. Community-wide Public Performances – Three (3) major community theatre productions/year are held. Persons of all ages and abilities audition from throughout the greater Tucson area and work with theatre professionals. This project brings people from throughout the community together regardless of age, gender, religion, creed, race, abilities, or socioeconomic status to work together as a team. These community theatre productions demonstrate that people from all walks of life can work together and create something that not only the performers are proud of but their families and friends as well. The discipline of the Arts teaches the performers guidelines, values and respect for the Arts and for each other. Discount tickets are always available to schools, organizations, retirement centers and individuals. For many of the patrons this is their first live theatre performance. Arts for All, Inc. aims to cultivate the love of the theatre and performances to all patrons who enter its doors. The accessibility of these performances are recognized throughout the community. The availability of audio description, American Sign Language, Braille and large print programs and ample wheelchair seating make our performances accessible to all persons with disabilities
7. Arts for All Presents – This project brings to Tucson nationally and internationally known artists for performances, workshops and master classes. Primarily artists with disabilities are introduced to the community. Arts for All takes risks by bringing little known artists to our community. There are discount tickets available for all of these performances, an opportunity to meet the artist and question and answer sessions after the performance. Most of these performances are geared for the entire family. The accessibility of these performances are recognized throughout the community. The availability of audio description, American Sign Language, Braille and large print programs and ample wheelchair seating make our performances accessible to all persons with disabilities.
8. Arts-In-Education – In the last 7 years we have reached 33,000 children through school assemblies, cable network and tours to schools throughout Arizona and Mexico. Through the performing arts, artists bring their trilingual (Spanish, English, and American Sign Language) presentations to schools to share the message of team building and acceptance of diversity.
9. Monthly Workshops – Monthly workshops with local artists or guest artists allow the children to attend a weekend intensive workshop, which focuses on a special interest such as song writing, script development, storytelling, creative writing, dance, drama, etc. These workshops like all of the projects at Arts for All bring together children with and without disabilities from throughout the greater Tucson area. The workshops are made accessible for all participants.
10. Monthly Teen Dances – Monthly teen dances are held for teenagers with and without disabilities. This non-competitive, drug free environment is a good social opportunity for young people to come together and develop friendships, learn to dance in their wheelchairs, learn to dance with someone in a wheelchair and listen to the music that all young people love. This began because many of the children with disabilities did not have the opportunity for a lot of social interactions. These dances are held at Arts for All where those in wheelchairs have space to explore the maneuverability of their wheelchairs and learn how to interact with others in a social setting.
11. disAbility Ambassadors – High School students learn about physical and learning disabilities, mental retardation, deafness, and blindness in an 18-hour course. This project is ready to go into any of the local high schools. It has proven to be a fun experience for the high school students.
12. Inclusion Aides – This 50-hour training program prepares inclusion aides to work with children and adults with disabilities and to integrate them into community activities and arts classes. There is a constant demand in this community for well trained direct care staff (inclusion aides). This extensive training prepares the individuals to work with persons with developmental, orthopedic and other disabilities. It also provides them with the credentials to register with the Department of Economic Security/Division of Developmental Disabilities as a respite provider.
50 W. Fort Lowell Road
Tucson, Arizona 85705
Kids Unlimited was formed to provide children of all ages, cultures and backgrounds an opportunity to exhibit their individualism through the expression of song, dance and other forms of music. Doing this, the children gain confidence and self esteem, traits that become vital to them later in life. Kids Unlimited provides training and opportunities for the children to choose a career path in the arts.
Participating in the group will assist children by developing a sense of teamwork through the support of each other’s common goals. The children of Kids Unlimited and their parents will be able to form new friendships with other families that share those same interests. The group will aid in the development of the children while providing them a safe stage to perform on.
Through it’s activities, the Group will instill a sense of pride within ourselves as well as within our community. Kids Unlimited performs for charitable organizations throughout the community to assist these organizations in their fund raising efforts. In addition to this, Kids Unlimited will perform for retirement and nursing homes in and around the Southern Arizona area to help provide feelings of acceptance and need to the elderly as well creating the magic that happens when children perform for them.
For information on joining Kids Unlimited, booking the group, tickets to performances or how you might be able to assist us, call the studio line at 520.293.1225 or send an e-mail to Kids Unlimited.
And just when you thought I covered every possible Dance opportunity there could be in Arizona, there is Learn how to dance with your dog. Yes, Learn how to dance with your dog.
The Sonoran Canine Freestylers- a group of pet owners who dance with their dogs. Canine Freestyle (dancing with dogs) is a choreographed performance with music, illustrating the training and joyful relationship of a dog and handler team. Every movement is accomplished through the subtle use of verbal cues and body language. The emphasis is always on the dog, while the handler completes the team creating a harmonious whole. Their ultimate objective is to enhance the teamwork and enjoyment between dogs and their people through the artform called Canine Freestyle. They locally provide classes in Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced Intermediate, Choreography, Handler’s Only, Competition & Demo Training.
Loren Jensen Carter dances with Aloha, her golden retriever and founded the group in Tucson. She became interested in canine freestyle after a friend sent her an e-mail featuring a dancing human-dog duo. Intrigued, she located a training seminar in San Diego and a whole new world opened up to her. Their roots are in Southern Arizona, home to the beautiful Sonoran Desert, but their list now boasts people from many different countries and two dozen states! The Southwest’s Exciting Canine Freestyle Club; brings the sizzle of the Southwest to the rest of the country!
Jensen Carter said canine freestyle is a good way for owners to enhance their relationship with their pet. Dancing “just creates a joy and connection between you and your dog,” Jensen Carter said. Dogs of just about any size and age can learn to dance and will let their owners know if they really aren’t interested. Rescued dogs do very well with the sport because it allows them to learn to trust again. “I’ve seen it bring out the confidence level in almost all dogs,” Jensen Carter said. Dogs even have music preferences. You can tell, Jensen Carter said, by body language. When they like it, their tails will be raised, their ears will be up and their mouths will be relaxed.
This exciting group has a Mission to be the best training resource available for people interested in Canine Freestyle! Check out their Links! Many Canine Freestyle resources are listed on their website! Sonoran Canine Freestylers Club is the home of the International Canine Freestyle College. This internet college is open to members. Plan to have great fun while learning a new skill! And you won’t believe their faculty!
You can subscribe to receive their emails at:
Join the group at their website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sonorancaninefreestylers/?yguid=1075791 OR
For more Canine Freestyle information call 299-8600.