Toronto Gets New Dance Studio

From left to right: Aaron Aquino, Aaron Libfeld and Roy Urbanozo. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Voted the best in Toronto, The Underground’s dance classes are getting a new three-storey studio with a rooftop skylight this summer.

In just about two months, the new Underground Dance Centre will take the space above Yuk Yuk’s comedy club at 224 Richmond St. West, which is only two doors down from the original. Compared to the 3,700 square feet old studio with two rooms, the new space will be around 8,500 square feet with four rooms, including a rooftop with glass windows, which all the teachers are excited about.

“This is the floor I’m going to fight for,” said hip hop teacher Aaron Aquino. “I just want a sunny roof and fresh air coming through.”

Right now, the demolitions are complete and the team is collecting quotes from different contractors and deciding on who will build the new studio, said studio manager Roy Urbanozo.

The Underground Dance Centre gets a rooftop skylight studio this summer. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

The price for a single class increases from $15 to $17 starting May 1st, according to twenty-eight-year owner Aaron Libfeld. He added that still “a competitive price” around the city comes with new values. They are doubling the number of classes from 120 to 240, adding more hours for the teachers, and hiring more dancers to teach new styles. The old studio will continue to operate and customers will be able to use their passes at both locations. 

“Everyone is excited to see the new schedule,” said Libfeld. “There’s going to be a lot more of the popular styles, such as hip hop, dancehall, heels, Beyonce… We gonna have more k-pop and disco theme.”

Libfeld grew up as a competitive dancer, who took ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and acro at Vlad’s Dance Centre in Richmond Hill. The first thing he is looking for when hiring teachers is their personality. Even though someone is the best dancer in the world and they come with a bad attitude, they are automatically disqualified,” he said.

Excellent dance experience, understanding of the style, and ability to teach are the other requirements.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Teachers are not the only ones who create the mood in the studio. There are 20 young volunteers, who help at the front desk and receive free classes in return. Urbanozo will hire about 20 more volunteers to create positive vibes and a loving atmosphere in the new studio. 

Another innovation, prerecorded classes by choreographers from New York and L.A. is coming to the old Underground in just about a week. It’s going to be a unique experience, different from a simple online class, said Libfeld. “Even though they are [following] prerecorded videos, they are in a dance studio, in a dance environment, with other people,” he said. “Online classes are kind of the Netflix, but we wanna be like the Cineplex.”

Technology and social media have been a huge part of The Underground since it opened in 2014. Libfeld, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and used to run a technology company at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), said he applied all those skills to run his dance studio.

It’s very focused on working on the idea, getting feedback on that and continually innovating it,” he said.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Videos of every class on its Instagram, which now has almost 80,000 followers, helped the studio attract most of the clients and won the title of the best dance classes in Toronto by blogTO and Yelp within the first six months of opening. The Underground hosted the space for celebrities like Nelly Furtado, who rehearsed at the studio twice during her visit to Toronto.

“It’s exciting to know that we are providing the great content and sharing our love of dance in the world,” said Libfeld.

Both, Libfeld and Urbanozo said they are happy to expand their business, but the new studio is not the end of their vision. They will keep working on the main concept: providing their customers with the best experience. “We do our best because we want them [the customers] to come back. We want them to feel exclusive,” said Urbanozo. “There’s still a lot to learn about the industry and how to treat our customers.”

“We’ll only stop when we have to stop,” said Libfeld. “We are obsessed with the customer experience. For us it’s the worst thing if anyone walks out unhappy. So we make sure that we only hire the best teachers, keep the beautiful facility with professional cleaners every single night. That creates the whole experience which I think is different than anyone else does.”

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A Date With Miss Fortune Movie Review

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What do you get when a discouraged comedy writer and a bawling damsel in distress fall in love in a coffee shop? A romantic comedy of course! But what if the female lead is a super religious Portuguese school teacher who leads her life by what her psychic elder tells her? Well, you get an hour and a half love story where you are sitting in your seat wondering what decision she, and her fortune teller, are going to make next.

Real life couple Ryan Scott and Jeannette Sousa portray Jack and Maria, in A Date with Miss Fortune, where the two unlucky lovers by fate stumble upon each other and later overcome obstacles to prove to one another, and ultimately themselves, the true meaning of love and life. Characters played by Canada’s favourites George Stroumboulopoulos and Nelly Furtado, also help the couple move along on their journey through relationship highs and lows.

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The spin on the traditional romantic comedy plot is Maria taking advice from her fortune teller as to what her next move should be with her new beau. Advised by the wise woman to leave her last boyfriend (Stroumboulopoulos), a successful doctor with an annoying throat scratching habit, and now her new relationship with Jack, Maria is caught in the middle of choosing between following her heart, her stern soccer loving father, or the fortune teller who swears to never steer her wrong.

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Not only is Maria stuck on whether to navigate her own moral compass, Jack too has to make a decision whether to stay with a woman who is set on her beliefs and leaves no room for outside opinion, and a family that is heavy in their tradition and religion where he doesn’t relate. As if relationship woes weren’t enough, Jack has to overcome his own personal issues of finding a voice and place in the world of comedy and try to get his new sit-com project off the ground.

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Who knows if it was by fate Maria and Jack stumbled upon each other at a nearby coffee shop and sparks flew as the soon-to-be couple reminisce of their past and broken hearts. But as the pair fast forward into the future and delve into a tumultuous relationship of learning to live together and overall adapt to each other’s personalities, they understand the true meaning of love and leave their future together in their own hands.

In theatres today (Feb. 5) you can catch this Canadian rom-com just in time for Valentine’s Day; and who knows, you might be on a date with a fellow miss fortune?