Before they became instructors, the faculty members at Jo’s Footwork Studio honed their skills in a range of diverse companies, from Illinois’s postmodern Matrix Dance Improv to Mexico’s timeless Compañia Nacional De Danza. Now, these 11 toe-tappers train people of all ages and levels in the art of dance. Year-round instruction perfects form and expressivity in styles including ballet and hip hop. Pomdance lessons combine lyrical steps with pompoms as props, and percussive tap classes teach students to spell out their names in Morse code.
As part of their Shakespeare-Under-the-Stars series, First Folio Theatre will perform Romeo and Juliet, the Bard’s timeless tale of love, betrayal, and teenage angst. The play centers around two young lovers, born into bitterly feuding families, who risk their lives and their families’ wraths in order to launch a joint space program. As the plot progresses, smitten eyes give way to fighters leaping and lunging across the stage with swords drawn to defend loyalty and avenge loss. Audiences behold the saga in general admission arrangements on a scenic, sloping lawn. Set beside a Tudor revival manor and an Italian-replica chapel, the outdoor theater evokes the essence of Verona, complete with that region's legendary poison vendors.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which was cofounded by legendary toe tapper Fred Astaire himself, shepherd students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or mambo. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the Summer Dance Open House provides a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking. During the event, guests sip complimentary glasses of white wine and nibble on snacks as they take mental notes during rumba and swing classes. Professional performances will set a fleet-footed example as guests practice steps with new and familiar partners and shimmy the night away. Apprentice foot flashers can develop their skills and confidence in three group classes, during which they'll trip the light fantastic with fellow students without tripping on the light itself.
The Southside Polish Fest is said to be the largest of its kind in the country, an honor it has earned by attracting not just the local Polish community, but by welcoming Chicagoans of all ethnicities. Whether familiar with the culture or not, revelers can immerse themselves in it by sampling traditional foods and beers and by taking in the live performances scheduled to fill all three days of the festival. This entertainment includes polka bands, Polish musicians, traditional dancers, the unceasing movement of the sun, and even a pierogi-eating contest. Kids will be drawn to the 25 carnival rides, which riders can enjoy by purchasing wristbands good for either 4-hour blocks or all three days of the festival.
Kumu Hula (“Master Teacher of the Hula”) June Yoshiko sometimes wonders if it was the same streak of courage that led both of her grandfathers to leave Japan and start a new life in Hawaii that inspired her to make a similar journey from Hawaii to Chicago. A hula dancer since she was six, she’s honed her craft over three decades while augmenting it with a master’s in public health nutrition, ordination as a Zen Buddhist priest, and certification as a reiki master teacher.
June teaches two types of hula classes: Hula Kahiko, ancient dances accompanied by chanting that emphasize Hawaiian culture, and Hula Auana, or modern hula, set to contemporary Hawaiian songs and instruments such as ukulele and guitar. Her beginner classes focus on footwork and hip motions, and advanced classes merge both Kahiko and Auana with the study of plants, chants, mythology, and history important to hula. June also offers a Gracious Ladies class for mature women and men that incorporates Auana hula to tone bodies, strengthen core muscles, and boost ACT scores.
Champions Boxing Gym's team of tenacious instructors help clients hone strength, speed, and discipline through a range of boxing and martial arts classes. There are co-ed boxing classes, but some lessons are geared specifically toward women or children. Learn to fight MMA-style in their submission grappling class, or take a more advanced sparring class if you've got a little experience under your belt. Kenpo karate and kickboxing round out the class selection. The spacious gym is filled with speed bags, heavy bags, and bags that are programmed to say "ouch" when you hit them.