For more than 25 years, Drama Kids International has nurtured thousands of thespian students and kids simply searching for an engaging activity, instilling children with the ability to speak clearly and confidently. Classes focus on sharpening articulated speech and encouraging creative expression. Children are placed in classes according to their age group: the Lower Primary (ages 5–8) teaches kids how to deliver lines and hone social skills, the Upper Primary (ages 9–11) delves into improvisation and dramatic movement, and the DKI Acting Academy (ages 12–17) preps scene-stealers on how to audition for their dream role. Each class includes a variety of activities for kids to unleash their imagination, which develops their dramatic abilities in a fun, easy-going setting. Drama Kids instructors foster an open, comfortable acting environment. Call ahead to schedule the first class and start your child down the path of becoming one of the more notable Baldwin brothers.
Film fanatics flock to Cinema Arts Centre—chosen as Long Island's best movie theater by Long Island Press readers—to get their fix of foreign, independent, and other hard-to-find flicks. Upcoming attractions include Philippe Mora's The Howling III: The Marsupials, a moving picture about a runaway werewolf girl who falls for a young filmmaker and 101 freckled puppies dodging a cruel woman in a fur coat. Celluloid eyeball feasts may be paired with freshly popped popcorn and a fountain soda infused with the fizzy essence of imported giggles.
At Encore Dance Academy, tiny feet pirouette and leap across a safety-sprung wood floor during a classic ballet class. That’s just one of the ways the instructors get bodies moving in dance classes for wee ones as young as 6 months to adults. The roster includes jazz, tap, hip-hop, and musical-theater dance forms, led by experienced instructors certified in CPR and first aid. They create an energetic and friendly atmosphere in which dancers of all ages can feel free to express themselves through movement. To carve out toned physiques, adults can groove to the Latin beats of Zumba, which includes free babysitting so parents can bust a move without duct-taping their child to their chest.
The dance center also hosts birthday parties and camps, come summertime, that encourage kids up to age 8 to step into the rolls of divas and rock stars while learning a dance step or two.
Two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Mathis drapes traditional holiday songs in the golden tinsel of his tenor. From elegant pop classics such as “Chances Are” and “Wonderful, Wonderful” to his storied take on “The Christmas Song,” Johnny’s inimitable lilt has given listeners an oasis from passing fads such as spandex jazz for nearly six decades. On an anniversary tour celebrating 56 years of melody making, Johnny greets fans with an effervescent smile and the world’s luckiest microphone, crooning Yuletide carols that evoke toasty hearths and mistletoe canoodling, and that warm the ears like a hunting cap filled with spiced cider. Built to adorn a 1930s movie palace, the Paramount Theatre's art-deco mosaics, carved-glass fountain of light, and gilded sculptural details firmly prevent the evening's fuzzy feelings from escaping the auditorium.
The Long Island Comedy Festival, which won a thumbs-up from Newsday in 2009, sends laughing fits rippling through southeastern New York with showcases of some of the area's most accomplished comedians. The namesake festival spreads out across Long Island every summer, landing at venues that might range from an old-fashioned playhouse to a family amusement park. Many alumni return to perform year after year, making for a festive atmosphere that executive producer Paul Anthony likens to "a comedy party that the audience members have been invited to," rather than one that they sadly listen to through the floorboards. During the rest of the year, the organizers stay busy producing comedy series at other historic venues and exporting their team of comics to college shows.
Since 1984, Rock-N-Roll University has equipped musicians with the equipment, accessories, and skills to pursue their ambitions in songsmithing. Glistening guitars in all shapes and colors hang from the walls in rows, surrounded by equipment such as amps, practice books, and freeze-dried roadies. The shop also retails and rents instruments for orchestras and bands as well as the various parts and salves to keep them in working order. Rock-N-Roll University also has a varied curriculum for students of music. There are both private and group classes, where you can learn with traditional lessons, jam sessions, and band programs that culminate in live concerts.
During the Big Apple Beatdown, an all-day roller-derby tournament hosted by the New York Shock Exchange, spectators arrive to the rink with chairs under their arms to watch six notable MRDA teams battle for the National Champion title. Bouts begin at 10 a.m. with the Dallas Deception taking on the Magic City Misfits in a storm of skates, helmets, and trampled 10-gallon hats. Other teams battling for supremacy include the St. Louis GateKeepers, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts, and Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen. A special women’s game will also be held featuring the Long Island Roller Rebels taking on the Jersey Shore Roller Girls. The championship bout commences at 7:30 p.m., and the day ends with a presentation of medals at 9:15 p.m., where one team is deemed the victor. Matches occur on two separate tracks, allowing smooth transitions between bouts and enough time for padded pros to finish a game of Connect the Bruises.