Theater should inspire wonderment. That's the view at Tennessee Shakespeare Company, an artistic organization dedicated to bringing new life to William Shakespeare's words. Each of its productions aims to burrow beneath the play's familiar surface, finding deeper explorations into psychology, government, and philosophy. This approach brings new life to the timeless works—TSC's Macbeth, for instance, highlighted the civilian cost of civil war, while an all-female Julius Caesar embodied "a bold new way to look at honor, womanhood, and power," according to The Commercial Appeal. That same sense of exploration is extended to contemporary pieces. Once a year, the company members hang up their iambic pentameters to produce the Southern Exposure festival featuring new works from the region.
The consortium of professional instructors at DanceSmiths Ballroom Dance Studio shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Professional artist Donna LaBonia-Wrentmore focuses more than 25 years of painting experience into each brushstroke as she teaches artists of all ages and skill levels to unleash creative right brains. Adult artists can happily toast their canvasses during open-paint nights, taking home a completed painting to match a lonely frame or cover embarrassingly hued wall safes. Aspiring Seurats can brush up on color theory and perspective during fine-art classes available for ages 6 and older, and young ones can attend family workshops or skip to summer art camp to carouse with like-minded surrealists-in-training.
Founded in New York City and featured in the New York Times and Time magazine, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals Memphis nurtures nascent musical abilities during interactive, supervised classes. Each 45-minute session hosts 8–14 children, ages 6 months to 5 years, who exercise vocal cords and dance muscles to original songs, rhythms, and chants by founder David Weinstone, including some from the Nick Jr. television program Jack's Big Music Show. Skilled instructors draw on years of musical experience to guide little ones through rhythm-making activities, complete with drums and shakers, ensuring that kids avoid attracting stray reindeer while jangling tambourines. Adults are welcome to join the junior jam session and watch budding Mozarts learn skills at their own age-appropriate pace. Check the class schedule for times and locations.
Plié, Pump & Palette brings three distinct types of classes together under one roof. Youngsters can tackle ballet taught by a former principal dancer of the Maryland Ballet. Exercisers both young and old can enjoy workouts such as tai chi and boot camp. In art classes, the more creatively minded can work with clay, canvas, or even a wall.
Fitness, grace, confidence: at Ultimate Ballroom, instructors guide students toward all three through different types of dance, including fox trot, tango, and salsa. The seasoned dance teachers not only lead private and group social-dancing lessons tailored to individual skill levels but also coach competitors and choreograph wedding dances.