Founded in 1884, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is among the oldest community music organizations in the U.S., inviting patrons into its halls year after year to support and experience the excitement of live music. The center is home to the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra, which won the 2011 award for Best Chamber Orchestra from the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The group of in-residence musicians keep fans of classical music thoroughly entertained with concerts throughout the year and tag-team wrestling matches between the string and brass sections.
A lot has changed in the century since the Paramount Theatre was founded, but the theater's crowd-pleasing entertainment wouldn't have been out of place in Aurora's turn-of-the-century theater scene. When the Venice-inspired art-deco venue was first built, it joined an already-bustling local tradition of vaudeville, silent films, concerts, and circus acts. Photographs dating back to 1931 guided a 1976 restoration, in which artisans completely retraced and repainted eight original murals, re-gilded the fluted columns, and patched up the sheets of every ghost. Concerts, comedy, and community events fill the theater when it's not occupied by the dazzling production values of a professional musical-theater company, which launched what the Chicago Tribune called a "thrilling debut season" in 2011.
To say that Brittnie Quinn and Amelia Hendryx love to dance would be a serious understatement. The co-owners of Dance Dynamics both boast impressive dance résumés that include studying dance techniques with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and training with renowned choreographer Wade Robson. The duo combine their expertise to lead dancers of all ages through informative, interactive classes in jazz, ballet, tap, and hip-hop. They also helm the Dance Dynamics Dance Company, an award-winning, competitive dance team that performs regularly.
Designed to mimic the French palace of Versailles, Rialto Square Theatre's magnificent interior awes showgoers with its gilded opulence. In the regal inner lobby, a 20-foot, 250-light chandelier?dubbed The Duchess?illuminates a circular series of delicate reliefs that depict allegories of man triumphing through labor and scenes from Greek mythology. A scaled-down replica of Paris's Arc de Triomphe leads from the lobby to the rotunda, adding to the space's grandeur and commemorating miniature Napoleon's victory at the adorable Battle of miniature Austerlitz.