The sounds of jazz, hip hop, and other contemporary genres fill the four large studios at Gotta Dance Atlanta's 9,000-square-foot facility. Instructors describe the dance and fitness center as a "home away from home" for dancers of all abilities, and it's not hard to see why. Beginners can learn how to cut a rug or mow a hardwood floor in "Explore" classes that require no prior knowledge of dance terminology. Even dancers who have already worked up to the professional level can find a class to match their style, be it salsa or ballet. Students of all abilities benefit from classes such as Awesome Abs and Cardio Hip-Hop, which use dance as a jumping-off point for fitness workouts that tone and shape the body.
As may be apparent by her name, studio director Ursula Undress is a student of both classical burlesque and its neoburlesque modern revival. At her studio, she puts together a curriculum that pays tribute to the history of sultry dance while also integrating its modern trends. Among the goals of the classes is for all women to learn to confidently swing their hips and master the subtle art of the tease—while striking up a renewed relationship with their inner temptress. Ursula and her fellow instructors also add variety to classes by integrating sexy hoop dancing, graceful ballet moves, or Latin-inspired dance forms, including salsa, cha-cha, and mambo. Students looking for a more intense workout can tone up through the studio’s go-go fitness classes that are aided by an upbeat pace and hefty gold-plated feather boas.
One of the great surprises about Atlanta is its bustling local theater scene. Actor’s Express is one of the most reliable and innovative groups in town, always focusing on challenging, creative work. Located in the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown, the theater itself is rather intimate. You can easily spot the actors in the lobby after the show to congratulate them on a job well done, but the quality is equal to that of Atlanta’s larger, haughtier venues. Founded in 1988, Actor’s Express has always believed in pushing the boundaries of the local theater scene, as evidenced by recent productions like the sexy drama Venus in Fur and the historical rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. They also incorporate classics like Equus and Kiss of the Spider Woman into their seasons. Annual subscriptions are available, which make for an inexpensive and interesting gift.
Project 9-6-1 celebrates five years of rocking Atlanta's airwaves with the Filthy Fifth Anniversary concert, a bass-heavy evening of raucous metal, hip-hop, and dub-step headlined by world-famous band Korn. Since 1994, the group has gripped music fans with its raw energy and signature nu-metal sound, which fuses aggressive riffs and cathartic caterwauling with thesaurus-shredding hip-hop. With more than 30 million records sold and two Grammys on the mantel, vocalist Jonathan Davis and his band of sonic swashbucklers execute an athletic set that mixes classic tracks with new thrashers from the band’s latest album, The Path of Totality. Joining the sonic mélange, dub-step DJ Datsik blows up the dance floor with helium tanks of hip-hop, Netherland rappers Dope D.O.D. drop hardcore rhymes about wooden shoes, and Canadian bass-master Downlink puts treble knobs in their place with telltale beats that haunt guilty floorboards.
When the Center for Puppetry Arts opened its doors in 1978, Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog were on hand to cut the ribbon. Fittingly, one of its first major exhibitions, The Art of the Muppets in 1981, attracted more than 50,000 attendees. Since then, the center has matured into a multifaceted complex equal parts museum, performance center, and hub for working artists.
Whole World has entertained audiences since 1994, and has been named one of Atlanta's five best comedy clubs by Jezebel magazine. In addition to that, the team of 40-plus members helps train the next generation of improv performers during classes that explore scene building and characterization through exercises and improv games. Besides sessions catered to beginning through advanced improvisers alike, Whole World teaches courses for kids and professional actors tired of having to speak only in iambic pentameter. The actors also happily venture beyond the theatre's walls for private events such as team-building workshops or cocktail parties.