A 1968 photograph of Joel Dombrowski shows him as a small boy, peering over a guardrail at Niagara Falls. Awestruck by the crashing waters, he looks as if he's trying to taste the mist. Exciting that sense of wonder in others would later become his profession. Today, Joel escorts first-timers through Niagara Falls State Park as a popular tour guide. He draws upon his training in journalism, experience as a standup comedian, and a lifetime obsession with history to share the story of the park with wit and elegance. For more than 10 years, his approach⎯merging stray historical facts with compelling anecdotes and comical accounts of waterfall lore⎯has made experiencing the Niagara landscape doubly memorable for his tour companions.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
It's fitting that Alleyway Theatre makes its home in a renovated bus depot—the venue is a destination for local talent. The company focuses on Buffalo artists, frequently staging world premieres and fostering the work of homegrown playwrights. Freshly penned plays and acclaimed shorts entertain audiences in the historic venue, which sports the curved walls, stainless steel trimmings, and distinctive mustache of the Art Moderne architectural style.
An exquisite example of Wright's ranch houses, the Martin Complex was commissioned by Darwin D. Martin of the Buffalo-based Larkin Soap Company in 1902. With this deal, you'll get an extensive guided tour of the historical property, beginning with an examination of the exterior of the main Martin House while your guide discusses the intricacies of Wright's architectural style. Since the interior of the Martin House is currently closed for renovations, the tour has expanded to include several other parts of the complex, starting with a walk down the stunning Pergola, a 100-foot walkway connecting the Martin House to the conservatory. There, a lush indoor garden awaits, showcasing Wright's uncanny ability to combine interior spaces with nature without simply stapling algae to the walls. Then, take a walk inside the first floor of the Barton House, the first building constructed on the complex in 1903. The tour continues with a visit to the first floor of the Gardener's Cottage, built in 1909 and exemplifying Wright's concept of small, affordable housing. Lasting about an hour and a half, the tour includes plenty of walking, so visitors should be sure to bring comfortable shoes.
"I try to make my students tap into their inner child," says Suzy Miller. "Just be silly and have fun!" As the owner of Suzy's Jazzyobics, she brings that philosophy to each 70-minute class that she teaches. Of course, just because she focuses on fun doesn't mean she's not leading serious exercise classes. She infuses the cardiovascular workout with muscle-toning and metabolism-enhancing variations, helping students improve balance, flexibility, and coordination, all while they burn calories.
Equipment: No equipment
Students should bring: Bottle for water, exercise mat,
Average class length: 60-90 minutes
Number of Staff: 1–5
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: No
Good for beginners: Yes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Parking lot