Under the guidance of cofounders and brothers Mikhail and Arkadiy Sarkisov, the skilled coaches at Grand Rapids Fencing Academy enlighten budding swordsmiths on the essential techniques of modern fencing. During informative classes for all experience levels, students learn the foot moves, blade work, and confetti-cutting skills of èpèe-, foil-, and saber-style fencing. Each session is designed to improve mind-body coordination and flexibility while providing aerobic exercise. A wall of full-length mirrors allows pupils to view and modify their techniques inside the sprawling hardwood studio.
Mikhail and Arkadiy Sarkisov sharpened their fencing skills on the former Soviet Union's national fencing team before earning medals in their home country's national championship. In 2004, the United States Olympic Committee named Mikhail the Developmental Coach of the Year in fencing. Both brothers hold master's degrees in fencing and have placed highly in numerous tournaments across multiple globes.
Although officially founded in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony's history stretches back to 1917 when an enterprising group of local musicians began practicing together and holding regular concerts. In the years since, the ensemble has retained this self-starter mentality while growing into one of the nation's preeminent regional orchestras. Always asserting its idiosyncratic individuality, the organization earned a 2007 Grammy nomination for its collaboration with flamboyant electric harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and the ire of conductors for its rule that all batons should be able to shoot sparks.
As West Michigan's only professional opera company, Opera Grand Rapids thrills audiences with the gripping tale of Verdi's Il Trovatore. The four-act opera chronicles a gypsy hag's lifelong revenge plot, fraught with kidnapping, a witch burning, and unregulated derivatives trading. Nationally acclaimed cast members, including seasoned tenor Arnold Rawls, belt out monumental arias and the spellbinding "Anvil Chorus" in elaborate period costumes. Operagoers delve into the dramatic story up close in the orchestra section of the 2,404-seat DeVos Performance Hall, refurbished in 2002 to further enhance the auditorium's sight lines and glowing amber wood panels.
Laughter is the best medicine, though it tends to be the worst legal defense. Salute the healing art of comedy with today's Groupon: for $8, you get two tickets to see River City Improv (an $18 value) at the Ladies Literary Club downtown. This Groupon is valid for two admissions ($9 each) to one of six performances: Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, Nov. 20, or Dec. 4. Both tickets must be used at the same show. Shows start at 7:33 p.m., with doors opening an hour before.
The friendly, experienced teachers at Allegro School of Music delight ears and bolster brains with a variety of music and movement activities for learners of all ages. The summer music pass offers tune-thusiasts two private lessons, with choices ranging from classical violin to blues kazoo (a $40 value). Children ages 5 and younger can enjoy sing-along songs, puppet theater, and tent-fort jam sessions at four open-play sessions (a $20 value), and those 7 and younger may attend four craft- and story-filled classes with their parents and other families, exploring exciting themes such as farm life, dinosaur kingdoms, and cat ennui (a $60 value). Hit up the Family Music Festival on July 26 at 10 a.m. and use the included $5 for food toward concession delights. Festival admission is free.
Legally Blonde The Musical, adapted from the 2001 hit film, is a rosy-hued tale about a sorority sister turned Harvard Law student. Filled with lively songs, breathtaking choreography, and copious amounts of pink, the sidesplitting saga of Elle Woods leaves audiences joyous and up to 24% blonder. Seating (subject to availability) will be in the orchestra section or first-level mezzanine rows A-F ($63.25 each), or in the mid- and back-level mezzanine ($53.25 each). Join Broadway Grand Rapids for its 23rd music-making season as the company celebrates its new partnership with MSU's Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.