Austin may not be New York City or even Houston, but for a casual town known primarily for its nightclub music scene, it has one of the most renowned opera companies anywhere in America. Many credit the success of the Austin Lyric Opera to maestro Richard Buckley, an internationally acclaimed conductor who was wooed to Austin’s opera company a decade ago and continues to draw some of the biggest talent in the singing world. Austin Lyric Opera puts on lush, fully realized interpretations of classics from Verdi, Mozart and Puccini, as well as a slew of more modern operas. The company also hosts a range of education and community programs, providing a rich blend of high art and accessibility in the city of Austin.
The U.S. All Star Federation, a committee that regulates competitive dance and cheer, has stamped its seal of approval on Spring Creek Athletics, one of the elite gyms to have earned USASF certification. That’s probably because Spring Creek’s coaches have led their all-star cheer team, the Spring Creek Spinners, to national victory. Despite these intimidating credentials, the athletic complex still welcomes pupils of all ages and abilities to enjoy the health-boosting benefits of tumbling, cheerleading, hip-hop dancing, and break dancing, and it runs camps to introduce novices to the spirited world of athletics.
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 Studios, 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.
Professional dancing partners Katia Kuznetsova and Cristiano Callegari bring more than just a passion for dance to their students. The duo earned top marks in national and international competitions such as the Ohio Star Ball and the UK Open, which, in addition to certification by the National Dance Council of America, makes them experts in dance styles including Latin, ballroom, and wedding dance. They also surround themselves with like-minded experts, recruiting professional dance instructors versed in country-western dancing, swing, Salsa, and hip-hop. When she isn't illuminating the dance floor, Zumba instructor Shara Hymowitz leads fitness disciples of all ages along the path to better bodies during fun Zumba classes set to Latin rhythms. Instructors happily teach dancers of all skill levels, with lessons ranging from group classes that cover the fundamentals of dance to private instruction for advanced dancers or undercover cops looking to infiltrate the gang from West Side Story.
For Margie Garcia, owner of The Drunk Artist, the word drunk doesn't just refer to being inebriated: it also means being overcome by a strong feeling or emotion. During one of The Drunk Artist's painting classes, students can embrace this double meaning by creating an impassioned piece of art while sipping on BYO beverages. A local artist assists painters of all skill levels in re-creating a chosen masterpiece by demonstrating helpful techniques and doling out the necessary materials. After an evening or afternoon of eating complimentary snacks, pupils leave with a finished painting that can be mounted on the wall or sneaked into a museum in the middle of the night.