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.
Brothers in arms, strings, and reality, Sérgio and Odair Assad hail from Brazil, where they were steeped in the Brazilian musical tradition like two man-sized sachets of tea. Over the years, they studied with some of the best guitarists in South America, honing their skills and musical partnership. More recently, the duo began further exploring the music of their ancestral homeland, Lebanon. Following the success of Sérgio's Lebanese-influenced composition Tahhiya II Oussilina, the Assads arranged a show that explores modern and ancient Lebanese work, the rhythmic motifs that Brazilian and Middle Eastern music never realized they had in common, and new, original compositions. The result was De Volta As Raizes, Portuguese for "back to our roots." Joining them on tour are the thoroughly embodied vocals of Lebanese-American singer Christiane Karam, the intricate dum-tek-kas of percussionist Jamey Haddad, and the double-handed support of pianist and singer Clarice Assad.
Movement is medicine for Sunyatta Amen, proprietor and head instructor at MamaSita Movement & Wellness Studio. She expresses this philosophy through an eclectic menu of group classes such as Urban Fusion Belly Dance, Zumba, and Brazilian Samba Workout. During classes, students gain confidence as they shimmy hips and undulate bellies through each 60- to 90-minute workout.
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.
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. 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.
Satisfy sky-centric curiosity with the College Park Aviation Museum's 27,000 square feet of cloud-plowing attractions, set on the historic grounds of the world's oldest continuously operating airport. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum's pride is a restoration shop, which makes once-grand beauties look as flight-ready as a seagull strapped to a jet pack. Ten vintage and reproduced aircraft are arrayed in the main gallery, including a reproduction of the Wright Model B from 1910 and a 1941 Boeing Stearman. Exhibits chart the nonvehicular history of flight, such as the Fly Now! showcase of international aviation posters dating back to 1860. Petite pilots may explore kid-friendly displays, sitting in the cockpit of the Imagination Plane, a 1939 blue Taylorcraft, or go to the hands-on room to dress in flight-ready uniform.