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.
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.
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.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Under the tutelage of melodious maestro Andreas Mitisek, the Long Beach Opera's toughened tunesmiths bang out praiseworthy performances of works by an international array of composers. The opera's stage-bound songbirds tackle questions of morality, power, and faith during their performance of Philip Glass's Akhnaten, the third in the composer's Portrait Trilogy. Making its West Coast debut, Akhnaten follows the rise and fall of the titular pharaoh, a leader known for bringing monotheism to Egypt and owning an expansive collection of ceramic kittens. True to Glass's reputation as an avant-garde artist, Akhnaten features vocal performances in historically accurate languages—including Egyptian, Akkadian, Hebrew, and Klingon—translated into eye-catching English supertitles projected for instant understanding. The cast is led by a covey of Long Beach Opera rookies, including international songsters such as Jochen Kowalski, Oxana Senina, and Ralph Cato.