Chi Chi Randolph has choreographed routines for hip-hop artists including Nelly and the Black Eyed Peas. Kari Lehman has 15 years of ballet training experience. Viviane Bressan turned her love of belly dance into a career, traversing the globe while teaching and performing the ancient art. At Dance Austin Studio, these three number among more than a dozen dance instructors whose dazzlingly diverse backgrounds enable an array of classes for everyone from preschoolers to grownups and fitness buffs to serious students of dance.
Zumba combines fast-paced cardio choreography with dynamic Latin rhythms, and the 18-and-older Sexy Stiletto Fit class uses high heels to tone calves and build confidence. Students can choose to learn fundamental positions, steps, and vocabulary during structured ballet, lyrical, and jazz programs, or they can develop video-ready swagger during hip-hop classes. The studio’s sense of fun occasionally spills out into the community—it recently teamed up with the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to spark a flash mob at city hall, held to raise awareness of emergency preparedness and help officials practice what to do if invaded by dancing aliens.
When Felicity Coltman founded it in 1981, the Austin Chamber Music Center's goal was simpler than it is today, yet still ambitious: to create a summer chamber-music workshop for teens. Since then, not only have many alumni gone on to become professional musicians, but the center has expanded into an outreach organization whose concerts and instruction brings chamber music to Austin ears, instruments, and hearts. Adults of similar skill levels gather into small chamber-music groups, whereas youngsters meet with instructors on weekends, during the summer, or in school. Just two years after its founding, the center sent students on two European voyages and hosted musicians from Salzburg, starting an international exchange program that continues today.
In 1988, a unique performance series took form with the center’s Intimate Concerts, which take place in private homes so that audiences can experience the music in a personal way and help their cats learn to read sheet music. Led by artistic director Michelle Schumann the center now holds year-round concerts for a variety of musical tastes, with all programs including live program notes.
Images on the video screen swell right along with the singer as she reaches the chorus of "Livin' on a Prayer," inciting her friends to stand up from the wraparound booth and pump their fists. It's a typical evening at Austin Karaoke, where visitors belt, croon, and warble their favorite songs until 4 a.m. on weeknights and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Nine karaoke rooms accommodate small parties of up to 8 or large parties of up to 50. Ensconced in these private studios, songsters search the computerized catalog for their standard baroque numbers, grab the microphone, and then pour their souls into a premium sound system.
Penfold Theatre Company takes offense to the notion that the best theater comes from New York. In every successful season, the Round Rock stock of actors and artists give the Great White Way a run for its money with inspired productions. Hatched in the summer of 2007—after an 18-hour road trip led its founders to the dramatic potential of the hills of north Travis and Williamson Counties—Penfold quickly blossomed into a community jewel and a critics’ darling. Winner of the Austin Critics Table Award for Best Musical Production for the third year in a row, the troupe embarks on a new season filled with comedy, drama, and music—all while breeding new stocks of young thespians in their Penfold Players acting classes and summer camps.
Comedy originated in 1974, when Benny Goodwin stood in front of a crowd, lost control of a complex, six-minute body odor pun, and spontaneously combusted. Today's Groupon lets you watch comics risk life and limb at Austin's coliseum of stand-up comedy, Cap City Comedy Club. For $32, you get 10 pairs of tickets to Cap City Comedy's regular touring headliners (a $65 value). These tickets are good for the Wednesday through Friday 8 p.m. acts as well as the Friday and Saturday 10:30 p.m. shows. This deal does not apply to the special events or the Saturday 8:00 p.m. performance. Reservations are required.
Cap City, now in its 25th year, hosts scruffy local talent as well as traveling bards and harlequins of humor. Serious about being weird, Cap City also conducts certified defensive driving courses, regularly feuds with a neighboring church over who's louder and bawdier, and seats almost all of its guests at long, cafeteria-style tables beneath '80s-era décor that recalls a more innocent teenage era.
Upcoming acts include perpetually frostbitten Minnesotan Chad Daniels, who strode across Conan O'Brien's stage, and the man named by a Rubik's cube, Myq Kaplan, champion of the New York Comedy Contest. Comedians are encouraged to interact with the audience, and, if the need arises, to administer vaccinations.
Since you must purchase two food or beverage items during the show, Cap City serves up its own remixes of traditional bar food, like egg rolls with chicken, mozzarella, jalapenos, red chili, black beans, and spinach ($8.95) and the fatso sampler, with fried pickles, parmesany mushrooms, and cheese sticks ($13.95). You can also get an alcoholic snow cone ($8.00).
Cap City's shows are a perfect alternative to the standard dinner and movie woo blitz, and with a professional comedian on stage, you won't have to struggle and strive to belt out your own charming jokes. Not to mention that laughter, as has been well documented, can improve your overall health and diffuse the stress that keeps you from reaching 6'4''.
Two Citysearchers give Cap City Comedy Club a perfect five stars, and Yelpers give it 3.5:
- I would suggest Cap City for anyone looking to do something different than the standard dinner and a movie, and laughter is definitely the best medicine! We will be back soon. :) – discomelly2, Citysearch
- I've been to Cap City a dozen times over the years, and seen a variety of shows both local and touring, and I've enjoyed each one. Some more than others of course, but always had a good time, had a bite to eat, a drink or two and some laughs. – Steve B., Yelp
- Great core workout laughing for 2 hrs. You really can't dis a place that can get you laughing after a hard day. It's better that [sic] drugs......and slightly cheaper. – Keri B., Yelp
After radiating do-re-mis through Carnegie Hall and China's 2010 World Expo, the Austin Civic Chorus of Chorus Austin embarks upon its 47th year of harmonious belting, energized by a placing among 10 finalists nationwide for the prestigious American Prize in 2011. To kick off the new season, the choir sings the poignant notes of Rossini's “Petite Messe Solennelle,” an 1863 composition that the composer dubbed, “the last of my sins of old age” in reference to his penchant for plagiarizing songbirds. As music director Ryan Heller conducts the tapestry of 130 voices with an experienced ear, two pianos and a harmonium hum along to the beat. Four soloists stand to flex their professional pipes and singing biceps, including soprano Mele Dailey, mezzo Kathryn Findlen, tenor Nicholas Simpson, and bass Bruce Cain.