At Lauridsen Ballet Centre, the well-timed tinkling of piano keys accompanies each leap and plié. Live musical accompaniment is just one of the ways in which the school's professional instructors, led by artistic director Diane Lauridsen, preserve the classical traditions of their art. They maintain a careful balance between encouraging attitudes and rigorous lessons, cultivating physical poise at the same time as mental focus.
Classes for ages three and up accommodate all skill levels, from beginner to pre-professional, and performances through the non-profit South Bay Ballet company showcase students' skills. Though they consider much of their choreography timeless, the staff does not neglect advances in the science of dance—they incorporate current discoveries in the fields of anatomy and movement to enhance both children's and adult classes. Their summer camp intensive also helps attendees to achieve new levels of grace and balance.
Redondo Beach Tae Bo sends exercisers punching and kicking through the week with classes held Monday–Saturday. During every class, certified Tae Bo instructors lead groups through high-energy, total-body workouts, which feature many movements based in martial arts techniques.
Experienced trapeze artist Ray Pierce began his circus training on the tightrope in 1976. More than 30 years later, he and his highly trained staff at his company, Hollywood Aerial Arts, devote their time to every aspect of the art form, from choreographing their own aerial acts to designing custom rigs to teaching the next generation of artists how to maneuver through the air. They reference their collective backgrounds in the circus, Pilates, stunt work, and dance to teach group workshops inside their 10,000 square-foot facility. All of the classes supply students with safely lines and a spotting belt, and the majority of the classes focus on a specific apparatus. These include the aerial bungee, aerial hammock, spanish web, tightrope, tissu, or flying trapeze, which is performed on the facility's 32-foot-high outdoor trapeze equipped with a safety system and animatronic clown cheerleaders.
In 2008, South Pacific swept the Tony Awards®, capturing seven golden trophies, including Best Musical Revival and Best Director for Bartlett Sher. Based on James Michener's Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Tales of the South Pacific, South Pacific tells, dances, and sings the story of two couples—Navy nurse Nellie Forbush with French plantation owner Emile de Becque, and airman Joe Cable with lovely native lass Liat— torn by war and the temptations of tropical paradise. The original production won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1950, with its frank depiction of racial prejudice as a central theme.
New York-native John Cassese's motto is, "If you can walk, you can dance." The celebrity dance instructor and choreographer's own quick-stepping career began at the tender age of 10, jumpstarting a passion that would eventually take him careening across the stages of off-Broadway productions, nightclubs, dance competitions, and the occasional monster-truck rally. It wasn't until he relocated to Los Angeles that an agent dubbed him "The Dance Doctor," and soon after, he found his fleet-footed prowess and teaching abilities in high demand amongst production studios such as Sony, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox.
Between choreographing a Charleston dance sequence on AMC's Mad Men and singing at the 50th birthday parties of Billy Crystal and Wolfgang Puck, John leads a team of instructors as they teach celebs and everyday Tinseltowners the finer points of styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop. Despite all the fanfare, his biggest praise comes from his work with soon-to-be-married couples, who seek his advice on everything from basic steps and song selection, to the length of the post-cake-cutting conga line.