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.
GROOV3 founder, Benjamin Allen, seems drawn to dance floors. At the school parties and bat mitzvahs of his youth, he was always showcasing his moves. Though he earned a degree in business and communication from Arizona State University, the call of the dance floor proved stronger than that of the corporate world. Soon after graduation, Benjamin moved to Los Angeles to devote fully himself to the art of the groove in numerous TV commercials, musicals, sitcoms, and stage performances. Benjamin shares his passion for dance with students at GROOV3 during non-competitive cardio-dance classes. GROOV3's fleet of experienced instructors and live DJs attempt to build a community of like-minded dancers and share their commitment to fun-filled calorie burning in a relaxed atmosphere. Classes help students of all fitness levels kick-start their hearts and torch a few calories with energetic dance experiences that tone up muscles along the way.
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.
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.