The Detroit Institute of Arts takes the “s” at the end of its name seriously. The immense Beaux Arts building on Woodward Avenue isn’t only a setting for a top-tier collection of visual works that include Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry frescoes, a van Gogh self-portrait, and ancient sculptures from Africa and Asia. It also opens the doors of its lecture halls, event spaces, and auditoriums for craft workshops, wide-ranging talks from historians and people who know how to draw really good cubes, film, and music. The latter two art forms find a home in the Detroit Film Theatre, a gilded, neoclassical auditorium that preserves a sense of coziness amid the grandeur.
Since 1963, more than two million guests that have passed through the Hilberry Theatre and been inspired by the passion and portrayal of the human condition they have seen on stage. Every year, audiences at the Hilberry laugh, cry, engage, question, applaud and cheer.
Since 1936, the historic Gem Theatre has moved movie lovers to laughter and tears with films in an elegant, comfortable single-screen vintage theater. Peruse current showtimes and choose a first-run film, which may include a romantic romp, a superhero adventure, an independent feature, or Casablanca II: Electric Boogaloo. Guests pick up their sodas and popcorn at the concessions stand in the carpeted lobby, whose ornate table lamps cast soft light on potted plants and flowers. In the red and gold 916-seat amphitheater, upholstered floor seats beckon audience members and balcony perches provide a sky-high view behind marbled wood rails. Before the film, guests watch wrought-iron vines curl around colorful birds in sculptures flanking the screen. Sumptuous gold curtains hide the big screen until showtime, allowing staff members to finish reenacting each film’s climactic scene in private.
Fox Theatre, originally opened in 1929, has long been established as a venue for legendary performances, earning induction into the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Domed entryways, walls lined with pastoral murals, intricate chandeliers, and a palette of brilliant gold and crimson hint at the venue's Moorish influences, which eclectically clash with the ordered lines of its Gothic exterior.
Since 1976, the instructors at Dance Scene have been improving the dance-floor navigational skills of students ranging from beginners to seasoned pros—the latter being any professional dancers covered in black pepper and basil. In a private or group environment, teachers share the basic steps and advanced moves of ballroom and Latin styles. They also lead regular social dance parties that begin with a specialized lesson covering moves from styles such as the Argentine tango before diving into a free-form celebration of movement. In addition to their time spent at the studio, the Dance Scene team members can lend their services to offsite events.
At Mistalocks, students learn dances with such upbeat names as boppin' and steppin', just two of the studio's unconventional lineup of partner dance styles. In group classes, master instructor Buford Collins starts at the beginning, showing students how to count out rhythms, feel the music, and follow steps with a partner. His specialty is Chicago Style Steppin', which has similar characteristics to West Coast Swing, but he also leads students through the steps of Detroit ballroom, Graystone, tango, and salsa. For him, these dance styles are more than just a way to move to music. He considers them a fundamental part of humanity's heritage, much like reality television.