The record skipped over and over. It was the third time Lisa Schwartz had pirouetted her way through Tina the Ballerina, and yet she raced over to the record player with inexhaustible enthusiasm and plucked the needle back to the beginning of the 78. If you were to ask her today, she would tell you this is the moment she knew she loved dance enough to make it her life's work. Her studio, Dancing Feats Dance Centre, springs from that love. She watches with pride as students she taught as children return to her studio to become instructors and as parents who once studied under her prepare to send a second generation of children and domesticated penguins onto her dance-room floor.
Over the years, she has assembled a staff of instructors with a vast array of backgrounds, ranging from cruise-company dance managers to life-long Irish step dancers. With help from their varied experience, her studio has developed a regiment of courses in a variety of dance styles, such as jazz, lyrical, modern, and chicken. Her students perform regularly in recitals as well, showcasing their abilities and talents as they progress.
The sound of sizzling grills punctuates the gentle whir of beer taps at Basement Burger Bar. Here, amid, exposed brick and flat-screen TVs, craft brews and cooked-to-order Angus beef compete for the spotlight as guests crunch through baskets of fried pickles and jalape?o poppers. Protein-packed ingredients such as bison, turkey, and black beans form burger bases, which diners can customize with bacon, grilled pineapple, blue cheese, and more than 30 other add-ons. Instead of cleansing palates with miniature squeegees, the bar draws pint-size baths of Short's seasonal suds and Dogfish Head Brewery ale, and a soon-to-open second location aims to sate hunger and thirst.
In Western Africa, the caffeinated kola nut is a symbol of vitality, long life, and friendship. And these are the things Kola Restaurant & Ultra Lounge aims to embody. The restaurant and lounge is filled with the aromas of authentic African and Caribbean cuisine, from goat pepper soup and rice covered in beef stew to savory Moi Moi, a steamed black eyed pea pudding with onions and fresh-ground peppers. Frequent live music enlivens the space with the sounds of jazz and reggae, and sometimes comedians and poets take the stage.
Dipson Theatres celebrates a reputation as a regional movie institution with a network of 12 locations lighting 57 silver screens across Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. Though the company now spreads across the northeast United States, it began in the small city of Batavia, NY, in 1939—a time when movies were called “picture shows,” Roosevelt was in the White House, and everybody could only see in black and white. Today that tradition underlies the cinematic experience as patrons chomp popcorn and sip sodas, marveling at modern 3-D visual adventures, summer action movies, family-friendly features, or even indie art flicks and footage from world-renowned opera performances.
When she isn't busy choreographing routines for music videos on MTV, Annette Bergasse trains the next generation of aspiring dancers at her eponymous school. For 30-plus years, Annette and her fellow instructors—all recipients of top awards at national and regional competitions—have helped students hone techniques in both classic and popular styles. The studio's programs focus on everything from the tiptoed grace of ballet to the more loose-limbed moves of hip-hop.
As part of Annette's chorus and competition program, the school's most talented pupils even participate in dance competitions, workshops, and performances for local charities. Such intensive training has helped launch students into professional gigs in Hollywood films, on Broadway stages, and as inflatable tube men outside car dealerships.
The ingredients are locally sourced, the dishes are inventive, and the ambience blends sportiness and elegance. As guests watch sports on TV in the dining area, chefs at Courtside Restaurant and Bar elevate classic sports pub fare with creative glazes, premium ingredients, and interesting flavor pairings. For instance, they coat panko-crusted chicken strips in special sauces, such as the bourbon glaze and spicy zip sauce. For their handheld wraps, they favor underutilized options such as grilled salmon in a raspberry vinaigrette. Even classic desserts like their chocolate chunk cookie get a slight twist—chefs bake them in cast iron skillets.
As patrons sample these ambitious cuisines, they'll notice a modern, backlit bar with sleek metallic chairs. Elsewhere, they'll see cushy booths and ceilings high enough to accommodate a pro basketball players riding his giraffe to his booth.