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.
Before Jordyn Palmer founded Edge Performing Arts and Dance, she unleashed her powerful pipes on the stages of Carnegie Hall and Avery Fischer Hall. These experiences, along with holding starring roles in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Jane Eyre, readied Palmer to lead fledgling singers and actors toward their own performance goals. Along with dance teacher Sanna James, Palmer leads private lessons, group classes, and summer camps that focus on stage presence, self-confidence, and turning every Shakespearean sonnet into a dance number.
At ComedySportz Seattle, the spontaneity of improv humor marries the competitiveness of athletics in weekly shows that churn out laughs for roughly 100 minutes each. During a match, two opposing teams of comics square off in red and blue uniforms as a referee presides. The teams launch into sketches and routines fueled by audience suggestions, much like on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Since random, casual outbursts are so integral to the show, no two performances are the same.
Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts’ 11 instructors share more than two centuries of combined experience in the entertainment industry, heading up a yearlong, by-audition acting program designed specifically for television, film, and commercial work. Not everybody is ready to make the plunge into the screen, so the school also runs smaller-scale workshops appropriate for all experience levels that cover casting dos and don’ts, career guidance, and summoning the willpower to meet James Cameron’s third eye. The Actor’s Makeover course tightens audition material into 15 minutes of pure emotional power, and part-time intro classes accommodate day jobs.
A quick glance at Vashti Fairbairn’s resume is telling. At local theatre company Fighting Chance Productions, she has directed the critically lauded Little Shop of Horrors and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, both of which magically combine music with dramatic arts. At her own Music Box Music and Theatre Academy, Fairbairn, along with a team of dedicated teachers, does the exact same thing on a daily basis. Children’s group classes give little ones as young as 6 months old a chance to strut their stuff on the dance floor, belt out their favourite show tunes, and learn to tickle the ivories like a seasoned elephant sitter. Private lessons are open to adults as well, and expand the instrumental scope to include strings, music theory, and the speaking arts. The latter comes in handy during the school’s drama clubs, which teach kids 3 years and older how to use their imaginations to create real-life and fantasy scenarios. Outside of their educational programs, the facility entertains visitors to the River Market with free music and theatre performances in the Music Box Presents series.