Joyce Willett School of Dance nurtures young dancers in an emotionally, intellectually, and socially safe space. Instructors encourage students to embrace their creative instincts, exploring music through the movement of their body while developing fine and gross motor skills in a supportive environment. Teachers integrate multiple dance styles into classes, from the precise gestures of ballet to the less-structured movements of hip-hop and jazz. The school's theater-arts preschool program cultivates young performers through theater games and role-play that emphasize socialization. Students learn to not only read picture books but to act out their stories and ultimately leverage their adorable dimples into a two-picture deal plus a cut of merchandising.
From 3D spectacles to afternoon matinees to early-morning showings on weekends, Southwest Theatres goes beyond the standard duties of a cinema with their seven screens. But the facility also recognizes that what you're snacking on is just as important as what you're watching. That's why it dishes out dollar hotdogs every day, and keeps its beverage machines stocked with more than 100 flavors of soft drink. The theatre also provides free popcorn seasonings, meaning guests won't have to steal a salt lick from any horses hitched outside.
Since its origins as a converted parking garage, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has ushered film-lovers of all breeds into its auditoriums, even gaining a following among Hollywood legends; Quentin Tarantino has been known to host five-day movie marathons at Alamo. The theater has earned that reputation by making moviegoing a personal experience, from the menu of handcrafted snacks and locally brewed beer to the completely ad-free presentations before shows. A long table stretches in front of every row of seats, enabling servers to unobtrusively pick up written food and drink orders throughout each screening. The staff enforces a strict no-talking, no-texting policy by kicking out any offenders, falling just short of yanking them from their seats with a giant's shepherd's crook.
Both first-run blockbusters and classics are projected onto Alamo's silver screens in crisp 35-millimeter or digital format. Meanwhile, surround speakers immerse audiences in the cinematic soundscape, whether they're seated in one of the expansive theaters afforded to blockbuster reels or the more intimate spaces reserved for indie films wound around tiny bobbins. Despite Alamo's vow of silence, fan-centric Quote-Along and Sing-Along nights encourage guests to shout their favorite lines, and actors, directors, and other celebrities often attend special screenings to lead in-depth discussions. These exclusive events have led to acclaim for Alamo from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, which called it ?one of America's most fanatically unique moviegoing experiences,? and Wired, which opined that it "might just be the coolest movie theater in the world."
In pools heated to a comfortable 90 degrees, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools' experienced instructors pass their aquatic knowledge onto younger generations. Before taking to the waters, the team sorts prospective swimmers between the ages of 6 months to 12 years into one of eight swim levels along with similarly skilled and aged peers. Instructors work alongside the parents of infants and toddlers to practice water safety skills and other swimming fundamentals such as blowing bubbles and singing whale songs. More advanced swimmers, meanwhile, master different strokes and techniques, and instructors incorporate more advanced concepts as their students progress through the levels. Parents can rest assured that their children are in good hands—each of Aqua-Tot's instructors have completed 32 hours in the company's Lessons for Life training program, and a rigorous Water Safety Instructor exam. In addition to swimming lessons, Aqua-Tots offers and hosts a number of other programs including Adaptive Aquatics programs, water therapy sessions designed specifically for children with special needs. They also donate a portion of their proceeds to World Vision, a non-profit organization that helps children and families worldwide gain access to such necessities as clean water, food, medical supplies, and education.
The instructors at Deep Blue Scuba teach aquatic proficiency through the rigorous and comprehensive ANDI certification system. ANDI certification imparts pupils with the skills necessary to dive self-sufficiently or with companions, and trains students via pool sessions and open-water dives set in the crystalline Lake Travis. After mastering descent and ascent techniques, students can expand their knowledge base through a slew of specialty courses including underwater navigation, night diving, and wreck diving. Scuba instructors map out the best local dive locations and host periodic Discover Scuba outings where divers sample new gear and reacquaint themselves with watery skills. The diving enterprise also hosts expeditions to far-away waters, piloting trips that explore Australia and Mexico, and confront the notorious gangs of clownfish that lay claim to the Florida Keys.
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.