Opera in La Palma

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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.

1261 Sartori Avenue
Torrance,
CA
US

Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.

Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.

7662 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park,
CA
US

A Broadway-style extravaganza set aboard a replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon, Pirate's Dinner Adventure is one of the only theater performances to require a 250,000-gallon water tank outside of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Manatees. While the dastardly Captain Sebastian the Black lords over his feasting crew of rapscallions, guests get to dine from the deck of one of the six ships surrounding the galleon?and cheer on the plucky pirate representing their vessel in the show. What unfolds is a swashbuckling spectacle of stunts, songs, magic, and acrobatics punctuated with as many fired cannons as belly laughs. Pirates dangle precariously from silk off the 40-foot mast. Treasure chests overflow with booty. Heroes rise from the ranks?and select members of the audience might even be invited by Captain Sebastian to come aboard the stage.

7600 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park,
CA
US

Phantom Projects Theatre Group celebrates its 16th season, bringing a wonderful 4-show season to the beautiful 1,251-seat, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

14900 La Mirada Boulevard
La Mirada,
CA
US

Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.

112 East Amerige Avenue
Fullerton,
CA
US

For more than a quarter century, Robyn Melanson has developed a thorough knowledge of the dance community as a performer, instructor, choreographer, and coach. As the founder and director of Stage One Dance Studio, she and her staff of dance instructors teach clients the art of kinetic expression in styles as varied as jazz, ballet, and tap. The premises feature three studios, each equipped with raised hard-rock maple floors, where students ages 3-17 hone their skills.

141 W Wilshire Ave
Fullerton,
CA
US