At Lauridsen Ballet Centre, the well-timed tinkling of piano keys accompanies each leap and plié. Live musical accompaniment is just one of the ways in which the school's professional instructors, led by artistic director Diane Lauridsen, preserve the classical traditions of their art. They maintain a careful balance between encouraging attitudes and rigorous lessons, cultivating physical poise at the same time as mental focus.
Classes for ages three and up accommodate all skill levels, from beginner to pre-professional, and performances through the non-profit South Bay Ballet company showcase students' skills. Though they consider much of their choreography timeless, the staff does not neglect advances in the science of dance—they incorporate current discoveries in the fields of anatomy and movement to enhance both children's and adult classes. Their summer camp intensive also helps attendees to achieve new levels of grace and balance.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio 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 an instructor as the teachers 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.
Under the tutelage of melodious maestro Andreas Mitisek, the Long Beach Opera's toughened tunesmiths bang out praiseworthy performances of works by an international array of composers. The opera's stage-bound songbirds tackle questions of morality, power, and faith during their performance of Philip Glass's Akhnaten, the third in the composer's Portrait Trilogy. Making its West Coast debut, Akhnaten follows the rise and fall of the titular pharaoh, a leader known for bringing monotheism to Egypt and owning an expansive collection of ceramic kittens. True to Glass's reputation as an avant-garde artist, Akhnaten features vocal performances in historically accurate languages—including Egyptian, Akkadian, Hebrew, and Klingon—translated into eye-catching English supertitles projected for instant understanding. The cast is led by a covey of Long Beach Opera rookies, including international songsters such as Jochen Kowalski, Oxana Senina, and Ralph Cato.
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