Many of the rooms in President Lincoln's Cottage resound with the voices of Lincoln and his houseguests, in the form of actor-interpreted recordings broadcast through audio speakers. Though not all rooms are accessible to the public, daily tours through this Gothic Revival home use interactive multimedia to tell the stories of Abraham Lincoln's ideas, struggles in passing emancipation, and family during the three summers they spent here during the Civil War. Knowledgeable guides divulge facts about the president's meditations and meetings, often tailoring tours to their areas of personal expertise, such as war or politics. They showcase video screens populated by images about Lincoln's life, and a replica of the president's desk scrawled with the words "Constitution 4eva." Guides also invite visitors to engage in conversation throughout the tour while welcoming them to sit on furniture.
The adjacent Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center, built in 1905 and restored as a LEED-certified building, houses a range of both permanent and temporary exhibits. Visitors engage with interactive displays, photos, and manuscripts revealing the presidential Cabinet's feelings on emancipation, life in Washington DC during the Civil War, and the president's role as commander in chief. The cottage also hosts a lecture series with guests that have included historians, Lincoln experts, and an artist who sculpted a life-size statue of the president and his horse, which today stands watch over the cottage.
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A team of professors, photojournalists, and professional photographers are the driving force of Ambiance Digital Photography School, teaching the fundamentals of DSLR photography via step-by-step instructional videos. Besides the online database of videos, the pros put together downloadable and printable tutorials to accompany photo examples. Any member of the school gets lifetime access to the school’s library, which includes an in-depth course on Photoshop. Some of the continually updated video classes focus on topics such as black-and-white photography, taking group or self portraits, and mastering different sources of light rather than always carrying around the same lava lamp.
Showcasing their tonal talents from the Washington D.C. area to their latest Houston-area locale, the staff of Just Rock Enterprises helps guests live their musical dreams by offering private lessons in voice, piano, stage choreography, and songwriting. Instructors customize lessons to fit each student?s needs, offering unique ways of imparting knowledge such as conducting lessons via Skype or by corralling several interested parties into small-group summer camps.
Movement is medicine for Sunyatta Amen, proprietor and head instructor at MamaSita Movement & Wellness Studio. She expresses this philosophy through an eclectic menu of group classes such as Urban Fusion Belly Dance, Zumba, and Brazilian Samba Workout. During classes, students gain confidence as they shimmy hips and undulate bellies through each 60- to 90-minute workout.
The dance floor at Roda Movements sizzles with the dance and martial-arts forms of Brazil and Latin America. In capoeira classes, students gather in a circle playing drums, the single-stringed berimbau, and the tambourine, taking turns moving to the center to perform acrobatic movements that blend sparring techniques with graceful sweeping motions of the native dance style. Brazilian jiujitsu teaches grappling techniques for fighting on the ground, and Zumba sets a calorie-blasting aerobic-dance routine to Latin rhythms. The ballroom styles of salsa teach quick-paced steps to guests dancing solo, in pairs, or with a musically inclined mop. In addition to Latin dance and martial-arts classes, patrons can build muscles while whittling their waistlines in yoga and African-dance classes. Also catering to the wee ones, kids-only versions of specific classes helped Roda Movements earn a Best of the Best award from the Takoma Voice.
At Princess Mhoon Dance Institute, everyone is welcome—whether you're an aspiring professional dancer or just looking to have a good time while learning dance moves beyond the Macarena. Adults break a sweat in Zumba, African dance fitness, and stretching and toning classes, while younger students master ballet positions, tap steps, and leaps and turns. All the while, Princess Mhoon and her staff craft a welcoming environment that balances serious study with light-hearted fun. It's not just the students who sing Princess Mhoon Cooper's praises—the instructor and choreographer has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Dance magazine honored her in a 2006 list of 25 to watch.