In addition to maintaining 20 gardening plots—as well as a plot specifically set aside for growing free organic produce for those in need—Cooks Community Garden plans to host classes in the coming year to encourage individuals to begin gardening as a way of lowering food costs and removing obstacles to accessing fresh, seasonal produce. Anticipated classes will cover topics ranging from gardening basics to grilling vegetables and keeping backyard chickens.
Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
At Follies of Yore, practicing painter and ceramicist Janet Talmage shares her lifelong love of art with the community. The gallery space houses her collection of ceramic pieces, paintings, and prints, all inspired by the language of architectural follies. Talmage also shares her creative expertise in a more direct way during weekly ceramics classes, where she teaches students the basics of hand building and glazing clay.
At Wee Spa, aestheticians glitz up kids with lavish tot-sized manicures, pedicures, and facials. At their birthday parties, groups of girls live the charmed life through spa services, pizza parties, and upgrades such as gift bags, limousine service, and adoption by the Queen of England. Wee Spa's boutique also helps girls channel the royal treatment at home, outfitting wardrobes with a selection of fashionable kids’ clothing.
Paddles churn the crystal waters as a rainbow of boards slips silently across the surface of Mountain Island Lake. The shoreline, dappled with trees that shiver with cavorting wildlife, falls away behind the board's passengers as they stand in the middle of the aquatic expanse. Though the view is much different from the rugged coastlines of California, where Ramsay Mead first encountered the sport on a surfing trip, the meditative calm and athletic challenge that immediately appealed to him are still present.
Today, Ramsay, the owner of Paddle Core Fitness, works with head instructor Pat McFeely, an experienced triathlete, to introduce others to the activity that has so enthralled them. With roots in Hawaiian culture, the unique method of riding a board takes advantage of the surfer's panoramic viewpoint and ability to avoid far-off swells and bossy tugboats. The act of constantly balancing and paddling, while simple, tones core muscles and enables participants to silently observe surrounding wildlife. Paddle Core Fitness keeps adventurers afloat on Riviera boards, which they sell and use in lessons to keep riders of all experience levels gliding more gracefully than swans looking for parking.
A full-service golf-practice facility, Leatherman Golf Learning Center provides club-wielding cadets a fun venue to hone all facets of their game. Perfect your putter stroke with a round on the complex’s 18-hole mini-golf course, a circuit of slick, boldly contoured surfaces that will test break-reading acumen and depth perception. Assembled around a central stream and waterfall, each hole unveils another fun opportunity to out-putt friends or swindle children out of their candy stash.
Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.