At Princess Mhoon Dance Institute, everyone is welcome—whether you're an aspiring professional dancer or just looking to have a good time while learning dance moves beyond the Macarena. Adults break a sweat in Zumba, African dance fitness, and stretching and toning classes, while younger students master ballet positions, tap steps, and leaps and turns. All the while, Princess Mhoon and her staff craft a welcoming environment that balances serious study with light-hearted fun. It's not just the students who sing Princess Mhoon Cooper's praises—the instructor and choreographer has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Dance magazine honored her in a 2006 list of 25 to watch.
Competition plays a peripheral role at Let’s Move Sportz. Coaches of the coed flag-football league, which welcomes kids aged 5–12, emphasize sportsmanship and camaraderie instead. Above all else, they aim to keep kids active and healthy, giving words of encouragement as budding athletes—clad in NFL flag-football jerseys—tackle the basics of noncontact football.
The dance floor at Roda Movements sizzles with the dance and martial-arts forms of Brazil and Latin America. In capoeira classes, students gather in a circle playing drums, the single-stringed berimbau, and the tambourine, taking turns moving to the center to perform acrobatic movements that blend sparring techniques with graceful sweeping motions of the native dance style. Brazilian jiujitsu teaches grappling techniques for fighting on the ground, and Zumba sets a calorie-blasting aerobic-dance routine to Latin rhythms. The ballroom styles of salsa teach quick-paced steps to guests dancing solo, in pairs, or with a musically inclined mop. In addition to Latin dance and martial-arts classes, patrons can build muscles while whittling their waistlines in yoga and African-dance classes. Also catering to the wee ones, kids-only versions of specific classes helped Roda Movements earn a Best of the Best award from the Takoma Voice.
Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros; the Beginning Digital Photography course teaches students to harness the intricacies of their instruments, and the Pro Academy offers inside tips on how to successfully snap wedding portraits, pose recent grads, or tease out candid emotions. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.
The graceful ease with which a good bartender mixes drinks masks the difficulty of the job, one that requires knowledge and dexterity—not to mention charisma. The seasoned barkeeps at Bartender of America, a TIPS-certified school, know what it takes to be a good bartender and lead their students through deliberate exercises inside a fully simulated tavern environment. Amid ambient sounds and music, novice bartenders dole out maraschino cherries and shake martinis while refining their conversational skills and learning how to identify underage kids by their mustaches. Fully committed students can opt for the entire Bar 101 curriculum, attaining a bartending license and valuable tricks for managing their resume and acing job interviews, while abbreviated classes offer insight into the fundamentals of the trade.