For more than 20 years, Igor Dyachenko has trained with top coaches around the world and won numerous awards in international competitions. As a former world champion, certified instructor, and founder of D-Dojo Karate, he calls upon those years of experience to fuse classical Japanese karate techniques with modern science, including knowledge culled from biophysics, biomechanics, and reruns of The Bionic Woman. The dojo is a member of the World Karate Federation (WKF) and an official branch of the Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIF), headed by Hirokazu Kanazawa. Dyachenko trained with Kanazawa, a 10th-degree black belt who studied with the creator of Shotokan karate.
Dyachenko and his team strive to train students quickly with basic karate techniques known as kihon, kata, and kumite exercises. Children practice exercises through running, jumping, and playing, in order to help develop physical strength, agility, and mental toughness. Dyachenko also used his karate skills and sense of humor to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech on The Colbert Report.
Choreographing the much-beloved tango scene in Scent of a Woman is a shining point on anyone's resum?. For Paul Pellicoro, it is one of many distinctions awarded to him and his staff of professional dance instructors at DanceSport, the go-to studio for Latin and ballroom dance. Their choreography and performance work has graced the diverse sound and theater stages of The Today Show, A River Runs Through It, and the Harlem Jazz Dance Festival, among many others. Their lessons have benefited Chris Cuomo and Good Morning America anchors Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts.
Rousing group classes take place across nine air-conditioned studios, each one outfitted with a wood-sprung floor carved from an oak tree wearing a tutu. Whether leading these sessions, helping couples prepare their wedding dance, or contributing to charitable causes such as Gilda's Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or Night For Ni?os, DanceSport's sure-footed staff flourishes with skill, patience, and compassion.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and foxtrot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Founded by 25-year music- and dance-industry veteran Safi Thomas, The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory instills the values of professionalism and hard work through the art of hip-hop dance. The instructors hold an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop history and technique, which means they can fill the intensive conservatory program with sessions in everything from choreography to kinesiology to the technical aspects of production. Weekly open classes extend the teaching staff?s knowledge to the community, ensuring that everyone can at least follow along once all political debates have been replaced with dance contests.
John González, founder of New Amsterdam Fencing Academy, brings his skills as a nationally ranked athlete to the piste, where he works with enthusiastic instructors to demonstrate European fencing techniques. He and the coaching corps teach foil, épée, and saber disciplines during classes that take advantage of the group's collective energy. They lead students through progressive learning approaches—group footwork and conditioning, individual lessons, and bouting sessions— in hopes of preparing students for traditional competitions and unconventional kebab parties.
Inspired by acts in Las Vegas and around the country, entertainers and pianists cover rock classics on twin grand pianos at Ha! Comedy Club's weekly Dueling Pianos extravaganza. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, dueling performers tickle the ivories and—when competition becomes especially fierce—each other, fielding crowd requests for pop favorites from the 1960s through to today. Musicians such as Mark Rivera, saxophonist for Billy Joel, join in the fun on stage as the kitchen and full bar keep the audience nourished with snacks and libations.