Amid the bustle of Hollywood Boulevard stand two monuments to the silver screen. One, the TCL Chinese Theatre, oozes with history— imported Chinese stone lions, a 90-foot-tall copper roof, and concrete blocks that bear the handprints of Hollywood luminaries from years gone by each memorialize the celebrated role the building has played in Hollywood for more than eight decades.
Next door, Chinese 6 Theatres is a tribute to the cutting-edge. Six theaters, some with 3D capability, immerse viewers in ultra-realistic picture and sound better than sitting inside Steven Spielberg's android brain. Beyond the plush theater seating, a bar slings cocktails for in-movie sipping and a restaurant serves a full menu for cravings after the show. The service schedule varies for the bar and the restaurant but both will be open during Summer 2013. Whether they opt for the historic cinema or the ultramodern theater, visitors can catch a full slate of acclaimed new releases on their chosen big screen.
The storied history of TCL Chinese Theatre rivals those of the more than 200 celebrities whose handprints, footprints, and autographs are cemented into the theater's forecourt. Erected in 1927 and declared a historical and cultural landmark in 1968, the iconic theater stages movie screenings, premieres, events, and red-carpet ceremonies. Today, moviegoers walking through the theater's main courtyard can revel in the same opulence of those 1920s screen idols, craning their necks upward to take in the looming pagoda that frames the entrance. Inside, the theater's original 1927 screen towers high above the plush red-velvet seats, surrounded by wooden panels that rise to a ceiling with flowing Chinese-style drawings. This classic Hollywood setting is one of the reasons why the theater, in an echo of its origins, hosts celebrity-studded premieres, such as the 2012 opening for Life of Pi and the 2013 opening for Beautiful Creatures.
Petroleum mogul Dr. Armand Hammer clung to life just long enough to see The Hammer Museum make its debut in 1990, passing away three weeks later. Without the founder’s support, construction screeched to a halt and spaces sat in varying states of completion. But not for long. The powers that be at UCLA saw Hammer’s vision, and took control of the abandoned museum in 1994. They restored it to its former glory by importing the university’s own collections and staff. Today, The Hammer’s unique compendium of works still hints at the unlikely collaboration that bore the museum all those years ago. Its stockpile of masterpieces explores the modern-day in a contemporary collection of mostly drawings and photographs. Richard Hawkins’ disembodied zombie george green might best embody current artistic trends; his expressionless eyes stare from a yellow backdrop, the handiwork of an undead inkjet printer. Meanwhile, the Armand Hammer Collection, left behind by the museum’s namesake, balances george and other outlandish works with 19th-century art by Degas, Cézanne, and van Gogh. It’s virtually impossible to predict whether rotating exhibits will land in classic or contemporary camps. They range from performance art installations—Floor of the Forest depicts two dancers moving through hanging jumbles of used clothing and ropes—to sculptures, paintings, and drawings. To cultivate better artistic understanding, the Hammer Museum hosts events including lunchtime art talks, tours, and screenings.
DanceGardenLA was created by Zahra Zuhair and Jenna, who have been belly-dancing since childhood and have travelled the world accumulating impressive professional credits. Zuhair has trained in traditional folk and Eastern styles?including Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Tunisian?but her specialty is Egyptian belly dance, which she has studied with some of the top teachers in Cairo. She has also been featured on the cover of Zaghareet! magazine and has written, directed, and choreographed productions as the artistic director of the Ghazella Dance Company and Po Na Na Dance Theatre. Jenna acted as a goddess bellydance instructor on an episode of Sex and the City, and made appearances on The Tyra Banks Show and the Food Network program Aarti Party. She has also starred in several bestselling belly dance-instruction DVDs.
Thanks to their more than 50 years of combined teaching experience and a talented team of award-winning instructors, the studio was named the Best Place to Learn the Art of Bellydancing in 2012 by LA Weekly. The site recommended instructor Princess Farhana's "witty repartee (and Hollywood rock-scene anecdotes)," and described the predominantly female atmosphere as "always encouraging, never intimidating." The crew teaches classes including classic and tribal-style bellydance, Bollywood, and cutting-edge dance fitness such as Bellyquake and E5.
Jay Kerwin knows a thing or two about making it through a tough regimen. A certified skydiver, scuba diver, pilot, and EMT, he was also one of only seven to graduate from the Air Force’s Pararescue Special Operations Indoctrination program––a course that begins with about 500 candidates. Now known as “the Major,” he helps build confidence and stronger bodies at Boot Camp LA, instilling his students with the same kind of motivation and work ethic that led him to win several national bodybuilding competitions and open pickle jars with ease.
Atop the plush grass and unforgiving concrete surrounding the La Brea Tar Pits and George C. Page Museum park, new and experienced recruits tone muscles as sneakered feet beat the ground during military-style drills that include running, strength workouts, and circuit training. Classes are lead by Jay and his wife Marcella, an athlete since age 10 and fondly referred to as “the Lieutenant.” Together, they work with men and women of all ages and fitness levels, developing workouts and offering nutrition advice. Recruits can train before the sun rises with classes ending before 10 a.m., or shake off sweat and workplace stress as the sun sets during an evening class. Aside from helping students lose weight, the Major and Lieutenant help them start or end each day with positive reinforcement, staying away from the yelling, belittling, and mama insulting often associated with traditional military-style boot camps.
The founders of Liberation Yoga were probably flattered when their studio was named one of LA Weekly's best yoga studios in 2013. But it wasn't the highest honor they'd ever received?in 2007, Travel+Leisure crowned Liberation Yoga one of the best studios in the entire world.
Those are just two of the numerous awards the studio has accumulated since it opened in the early 2000s, right when the '90s fitness craze of teasing hair until your arms gave out began to decline. Perhaps the praise is due to the fact that the majority of its yoga instructors boast more than a decade of experience. Or maybe it's because they focus solely on yoga while still offering a wide variety of classes types. That class range includes from gentle styles of yoga, which relieve stress, to flow classes, which challenge the body with rigorous, Vinyasa-style movements, to classes specifically designed for families and toddlers.
Or maybe it's the classroom itself?a bright, mystical place where mismatched dark and light hardwood slats cover the floors, natural light pours through the windows, and a sky-blue ceiling slants toward the outer wall. Touches such as tree-like wooden poles, greenery and flowers, and brown vines complete the fairytale look, making the studio a magic place in which to move and obtain inner peace.
Melanie Archer-Dieveney took to Pilates instantly. As a new mother, she turned to the core-strengthening art to reshape her body, and in the process, she began to reshape her life. She was amazed not only by the transformation in how her body looked, but how it felt?she noticed an increase in her energy and focus levels, a very welcome change to the single mom of a 2-year-old. After getting her certification, she decided to create a studio where like-minded exercisers could bring their children to class. Archer Pilates & Wellness originally opened as a small labor of love in her garage. But today, alongside a team of licensed and certified instructors, she leads her classes in a serene studio with gleaming wood floors and numerous props, including Pilates reformer machines, medicine balls, and four brass poles for pole-dancing classes. She has developed a hands-on, customized roster of Pilates classes, ensuring that each guest performs workouts specifically tailored to their goals, whether they want to lose inches or build core muscles strong enough to deflect a sprinting child less than 60 pounds. As adults lengthen and strengthen their muscles, the instructors also lead kids through Pilates and yoga classes, taking a more active and engaging approach to traditional childcare.