About Group Dance Lessons
“Michael’s a wonderful teacher. He makes classes fun while breaking down steps so even the most beginning student can move forward while the more advanced student doesn’t feel kept back. And his classes have an equal amount of leaders and followers almost every week. I travel for work and try to arrange my travel schedule so I don’t miss class!”
“I started taking Salsa lessons with Michael Kuka about 7 months ago. I attended a class on a whim. The dance studio was just down the street from me and I thought it might be a nice distraction from my normally hectic life. From the first class I was hooked! “Only sickness and work has kept me from a class since (and sometimes I refuse work on Salsa class nights). Michael teaches the steps so that you “get it”. You’re never in class feeling like you don’t know what’s going on. He teaches in a way so that you not only can understand in class, but you can take what you’ve learned and dance any where with any one. And I have. I am now able to go to salsa clubs all over the city and dance dance dance! “What Michael has taught me brings me great joy. I love music. I love to exercise. I love to meet new people. I love to dance. Michael’s classes have allowed me to do all of those things at once – and at such a great price. Forget the expensive, crowded gym. Give me salsa! “I even brought my dancing shoes with me on a recent trip to Europe. I still can’t believe that I was able to salsa dance in Paris. Truly a memorable experience! “My close friends are so happy for what I have found in Michael’s classes. They see how joyfilled I am and how excited I get when I’m going to class or going out dancing. Some friends have even decided to come to class. They want to see what they are missing. And I encourage them all to come. Michael’s classes have been and will continue to be a great thing in my life.”
“Michael Kuka’s classes are great! He’s a fabulous teacher! Michael has an unparalleled ability to break the steps down so that everyone in the class gets it, not something you often see in most dance classes, and the sign of a good instructor. And he does it via such clever repartee… it makes for a most enjoyable, and unique, learning experience on many different levels. “The high point(s) of my week and one that always guarantees a smile.”
“I would recommend Michael’s class to anyone who wants to learn ballroom dancing at any level. With Michael, you get more than just the dance steps, you are introduced to the techniques that will serve as a basis should you want to dance with any partner all the way through the competition level. Michael seems to continually adjust his teaching methods to both align with the level of the dancers in the class, and to keep the classes interesting even if one has been attending for years. “Unique to his technique is to offer video tapes of the steps for both his ballroom weekly classes, and for the weekend workshops. These come in handy when you need to refresh yourself on lessons that you have not been able to internalize, and that you are forgetting them is making you crazy. The classes are usually fun, and there seems to be no limit to Michaels expertise no matter what the dance.”
"Alexi is one of the sweetest people I've met in L.A. She's super professional and makes everybody feel at ease. I've been taking her ballroom, latin and salsa classes for almost a year, and I've enjoyed every single one of them. She'll make sure you get the steps down and will answer every question you have. When she dances with you she tells you what to work on, but also what has improved, so you have an idea on what to keep doing. Definitely recommend taking classes with her, she's awesome!"
“If you want to learn ballroom dancing or brush up on your dancing skills, go to Ballroom Dance Academy. Michael Kuka is amazing! He is very patient, professional and great to learn from. He's the best!”
“MICHAEL KUKA, The Dance Philosopher – When I first started taking ballroom dance lessons from Michael, all I knew were the basic steps – the VERY basics. I had always wanted to really learn the dances, and was delighted when I found out about Michael. “Since I started taking from him several months ago, my knowledge has increased exponentially. His methods of teaching are in sync with the way I learn – he breaks everything down into very small increments of movement, and then brings them all together. However, though I have enjoyed the classes tremendously, I found myself somewhat frustrated because so many of the other students are such experts. I knew that they had much more experience than me, but I wanted to be able to keep up with the group! “Then, at the last dance, I had what Michael calls a ‘breakthrough’. All of a sudden (at least, it seemed that way to me), I was out on the dance floor, doing what I had learned in class, and it was working for me. It was a glorious feeling. “What I like the best about Michael is his upbeat positive attitude, his passion for dance, and his desire to teach us the whole experience of dancing – which goes far beyond moving ones feet to music. He wants us to have the ultimate rush of the integration of movement, music, and total harmony with our dance partner. It is truly a philosophy of dance! “I would also like to give praise and recognition to Diana, his assistant, and the other students of the class. They are all kind, helpful, and positive and have made my dancing experiences very special.”
“Michael’s ability to articulate and demonstrate sometimes complex steps and combinations in a supportive and fun yet disciplined atmosphere, is a testimony to why I and my fellow Salsa dance students are motivated and inspired to come, as in my case, year after year.” Gratefully, Roy Johns, Artistic Director of The Mums and Girls On Stilts “I have a chronic medical condition that affects my central nervous system. I have trouble with my ability to think and remember and I get tired very easily. Sometimes I would get so tired trying to walk across my living room, that I would have to stop and rest. “But I have always loved to dance and I have always wanted to learn Ballroom and Social dancing. I started with Michael’s Salsa Class. The first night, I got so dizzy doing the cuddle step that I had to sit down. But, I had such a great time in class, that I decided that I would finish out the series before I decided whether I could continue or not. After only four weeks I could do the Cuddle Step without getting dizzy, so I decided to continue with the Salsa Class. “That was in August of 2001. I haven’t missed a single class since. Little by little I got stronger, so I started taking private lessons, then I started his Ballroom classes. The effect on my health has been amazing, my ability to think and remember is almost back to normal. Whereas before I had to stop and rest just to walk across my tiny living room, now I can dance to an entire song around a big Ballroom dance floor! “It’s not just the dancing that has been the big difference in my life, it is also the laughter. I have laughed more in the past few years, than I ever have in my life. Michael uses humor to teach and while he is always the “Teacher”, he plays with his students in a fun way. I have witnessed other teachers snap at their students when something happens to distract them from the class, Michael will use the distraction in a humorous way to bring the attention back to the lesson. We’re adults, he treats us as adults not small children. “Michael and his classes have also been a big help to my sanity. For the few hours that I am with him during the week in classes and private lessons, I forget all my problems. When I walk in the door, all the turmoil in my life ceases to exist and for that short period of time all that I think about is dancing and nothing else. Even if all you get from Michael’s classes is a great time, it’ll be worth it.”
“After many years of avoiding exercise, I decided to take some ballroom dance lessons. I was directed to Michael Kuka for private lessons. The last three and a half years have truly been a journey of transformation. I have felt more joy, excitement, passion, silliness, release, courage, and determination than I have ever felt in my life. “Finding the right dance teacher is a subtle chemistry that can either be found (Eureka!) or developed over time. I feel like a very fortunate person because I lucked into the perfect teacher. Everything that I could ever desire in terms of learning the technical skill required is encompassed in the body of knowledge that Michael Kuka possesses. But just as important to the student is the attitude and presence of the instructor. I have found Michael to be easygoing, delightful, practical, and fun – even when I can be difficult. Every lesson is full of play and a light touch, all the while Michael is imparting all the necessary skills to develop as a dancer. I am thrilled and surprised that someone my age could become a dancer that feels comfortable dancing with just about anyone. “Not only can I get up on the dance floor under all kinds of circumstances and know just what to do, but I can also feel free to play and “fake” it if there is another type of dancing situation happening that I am unfamiliar with- it’s all delightful! While I take my private lessons with Michael seriously because of what we’d like to accomplish, we have never lost a moment of sheer enjoyment during the process. There is another element of my lessons with Michael that might fall into the more psychological/philosophical categories. “It has been very inspiring to be re-learning (as a psychologist) what it takes to change habits and what is required to improve behavior. Dance lessons are a great metaphor for teaching one what the process is of developing any skills. It has helped me tremendously across the board in my personal life to compare my dance lessons to any difficult situation that requires my commitment, concentration, and full attention. It has reminded me, once again, to stay out of the chatter in my head, and to focus on the task at hand, to be responsive rather than reactive. Michael is wise to all these aspects of the lessons and we have been able to share a refreshing conversation that supports and expands his method of teaching. “I cannot express the change that has occurred in my inner life and outer life as a result of these beautiful lessons. I look forward to everyday that I am alive and every moment that there is a beautiful song playing encouraging the dance.”
“Michael and Natalia don’t just teach you steps they REALLY teach you how to dance. What’s more, the environment is fun, friendly and a great way to spend a Tuesday night.”
“Michael and Natalia’s Ballroom dance classes are terrific. They’re fun, good exercise and a great way to socialize. We’ve been taking Michael’s dance classes for several years and now we know the complete American Ballroom Bronze Syllabus for eight dances. You’d have to take years of private dance lessons to get the amount of information that Michael teaches. I was a total klutz. “I just wanted to learn a few steps for parties and weddings. Now, it’s like, “Look, Ma, I’m dancin’!” If Michael and Natalia can do that for me they can do it for anybody. It’s a great way to learn something you can use for a lifetime. The classes are challenging and fun. Michael and Natalia are supportive, encouraging, and great teachers. Hi, my name’s John and I’m a dance-a-holic. I blame Michael and Natalia. They made it fun. They encouraged and supported me. They were my enablers. And now I CAN’T STOP”!
"This place is the best they put heart into the dance class you are taken. They know what they are doing. Everybody is nice there and having fun. Highly recommended."
"[Natalia] is a technically superb dancer and a wonderful teacher. She is extremely patient and will help you get the steps right, even if she has to go over them a few times. I am pretty sure I drove her wild asking the same questions a thousand times, while stepping on her toes. Not once did she snap at me - rather she always had this reassuring smile that made me feel very comfortable. Michael is another amazing dancer. He teaches level III and sometimes level I. Besides being a great dancer, he is also very patient with a great sense of humor that makes all the classes real fun. There is nothing worse than having a teacher with attitude or one that is sarcastic. Michael (and Natalia) are just great people who really care that the students learn dancing and will not rush the lessons. Michael and Natalia have opened up a whole new world for me. Instead of watching television on weeknights, I now head over to their dance studio for fun-filled hours of learning and enjoyment."
"Ballroom Dance Academy is a great place to learn how to dance. I walked into the studio one year ago, knowing nothing about dance, and have since learned the basic fundamentals of more than 10 different styles. Michael [and] Natalia wonderful teachers who take a personal interest in every person who steps inside. They do a great job of moving everyone forward together, while offering personal tips helpful in improving individual performance. I couldn't have imagined learning so much in a year, and look forward to moving up to the master classes soon. If you are interested in adding the joy of dance to your life, the Ballroom Dance Academy is the perfect place to start."
About Private Lessons
“Natalia’s passion and desire to get the best out of everyone will have you dancing in your first lesson. Anyone looking to learn how to dance and have fun should sign up for Natalia’s dance class.”
"My husband and I took classes before our wedding so we could do a tango for our First dance. We bought the Wedding package. Their prices are reasonable. The class is fun and we learned a lot. Both Michael and Natalia are very talented dancers and teachers. Our private classes were even better - we learned a routine that Natalia put together and then Michael helped us perfect. Our performance went over amazing! We did a great job and felt so happy we did it. Thank you so much guys!"
"Love these guys! My wife and I have been taking private lessons from Natalia (half of the BDA team) for five years and have attended some larger group functions at their Highland Avenue studio, and we recommend them without hesitation. We were total novices and were COMPLETELY intimidated by the idea of ballroom dancing when we started; within five minutes, Natalia had us totally at ease. As a teacher, she's a dream: patient, funny, thorough, exacting, and kind. She knows how to push you forward without making you feel pushed. And she's flexible: when we discovered and fell in love with tango, she adapted our curriculum, set up lessons with a visiting tango master from Argentina, and helped us through the terror of our first milonga. We're now lucky to consider her not just a teacher, but also a friend."
"Michael is brilliant! In a short amount of time he taught my fiance and I the Waltz for our wedding. He is patient, dedicated to his craft and his students, always on time and an all round excellent teacher. What a professional!"
"Each time we leave the studio we don't stop grinning for hours (seriously)--we love it. There is no part of taking dance lessons with Michael that resembles doing chores; he's witty and engaging and it's still not clear to me which we like more--learning to dance together or hanging out with him while he teaches us."
"[Michael] is a professional dancer, but from what I have observed over a few months, he is also an incredibly patient and detailed teacher, who has the ability to transfer his knowledge of his art to others [...], it takes someone with the gift of teaching to be really good on this aspect of their career; he covers all the steps, mechanics, why, etc. Natalia is also an amazing instructor, and she goes in detail on many other areas of the classes: how to lead, what should the pressure feel like, how it should be applied, how ladies can style at each step, the ladies steps, etc. I think of Michael and Natalia as the yin and yen in the classes; combined, they provide their students with a great learning experience."