From its inception in the 1980s performance-art scene in New York, the Blue Man Group’s shows have evolved from impromptu sets in Central Park to stages across the world. The eponymous blue-skinned trio, described by the Chicago Tribune as “ever-curious, ever-hopeful, ever-restless,” remains unchanged by its decades-long stint in the spotlight, still bewildered by the telescoping tubes of PVC piping it uses as instruments and the appreciative applause of the audience. But the group's shows are nothing if not timely, deftly posing questions about technology and stardom.
The spectacle is equal parts aural and visual, with live rock bands accompanying the men as they tap out rhythms on tangled snarls of pipe and flail wobbly poles covered in neon lights. Videos provide context for the speechless drummers, as well as a constant stream of wry humor. Evenings with the Blue Man Group build to an electric conclusion, thrilling the audience with brilliant bursts of light, cheery floods of color-changing balloons, and an adrenaline-laced original score.
Melanie LaJoie’s dance career began almost three decades ago and has since taken her to Morocco, Egypt, and Russia, where she developed her expertise in an impressive number of ethnic dance traditions. Today, she directs the instructors at A Magi Temple Belly Dance and choreographs and performs pieces at local sites such as Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and the House of Blues. Her students, who can include ladies age 10 and up, learn everything from warm-up exercises to routines in Bollywood, belly-dancing, and flamenco classes scheduled five days per week.
In 1926, it was called the Orlando Little Theatre. Since then it has undergone four name changes, two mergers, and five expansions. Today, the Orlando Repertory Theatre (REP) enriches the lives of families with theater performances based on classic and contemporary children’s literature and outreach events designed to get young audiences involved in the arts.
Every year, approximately 40,000 children attend the REP's productions, which change seasonally and will include The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the 2012–2013 season. Children with hearing impairments have access to assisted hearing devices, and one performance of each production includes ASL interpreters. A product of the REP's goal to target families, the Sideways Series showcases plays with challenging themes to encourage children to think outside the box and ask serious questions. The REP also sponsors a number of youth and community-outreach events, including a writing workshop, summer camps with student-led performances, a theater-tech academy, and theatrical-training workshops for underserved youth.
When discussing his teaching philosophy with reporters from Central Florida Lifestyle, the owner of Salsa Heat quipped, "if you can walk, you can dance." He himself didn't know much about dancing when he took his first salsa class in the early 90's, but he caught on after just a few sessions, falling in love with the dance's energetic spins and rhythmic movements.
Today, a team of professional dance instructors teach salsa spins and footwork to students of all experience levels. Zumba and bachata classes provide tutoring in other Latin dance styles, and salsa classes for kids teach youngsters dance fundamentals that hone coordination and motor skills. Throughout the year, the staff hosts special events on their spacious dance floors, such as salsa socials, salsa Christmas parties, and salsa-infused celebrations of Robert Heinlein's birthday.