Liz London experimented in college. After a K-12 career spent learning the likes of ballet and modern dance, she was ready for the harder stuff, and that’s when she fell in with the belly-dancing crowd. Eventually, the flirtation grew into a full-blown infatuation, and she started Memphis Raqs, a troupe of professional dancers. Still, Liz never gave up on her first loves, and Memphis Raqs couldn’t completely accommodate her dream of creating a modern-day salon for all types of dance traditions.
When she created MidSouth World Dance Center, she rounded up a crack-team of professional instructors—along with her belly-dancing troupe. The group includes a Brazilian-trained flamenco dancer, a choreographer, and a former Fly Girl. Together, they teach recreational world-dance classes for adults and children. Their evolving class schedule features salsa, hip-hop, belly dancing, tango, and hula hoop, and they continually add new dance styles as more and more people escape from that town in Footloose. Augmenting the international moves, the studios host kids' summer camps and children- and adult-themed parties.
In January 2012, Amanda Gonzales and Edgar Mendez—a former principal dancer and choreographer for the Los Rumberos dance company—founded Madison Dance Studio to share their love of rhythmic movement with all ages. The duo and their team of talented instructors lead classes, including salsa and hip-hop, atop of a wood floor illuminated by floating party lights. In addition to helming belly-dance sessions, they channel Latin-inspired dance moves and global party beats in Zumba fitness classes. Amanda encourages ladies to confidently express themselves on club dance floors during her signature Hip Hop in Heels class.
After all hips have been shimmied and snaked according to U.S. government standards, students and instructors can rest atop the cushy sectional sofa while admiring the sky-blue chevron murals, which add a modern vibe to the room's exposed brick.
Most of the modern world is mapped—GPS devices capably guide people through entire road trips and atlases describe more terrain than most people could cover in an entire lifetime. While it's difficult to reawaken humanity’s sense of surprise and discovery, The Mid-South Maze is up for the challenge. Every year, the maze’s manufacturers spend months carving up their cornfield into clever patterns that, when viewed from the sky, might appear as a famed sports logo or the face of a long-departed pharaoh. On the ground, however, that pattern vanishes, leaving wanderers to use their wits to navigate the arching corn passageways.
The Mid-South Maze entertains with more than just its winding labyrinth. On Friday and Saturday nights in October, actors clad as ghostly apparitions haunt the herbaceous hallways of a spooky tractor ride. A giant jumping pillow launches kids skyward and gently cushions their falls, and a corn cannon fires ears of corn at targets up to 100 yards away. Anyone who hits a target wins a prize from one of the maze's sponsors and the right to eat nothing but popcorn balls until Thanksgiving.
The Collage Dance Collective assists prospective choreographers and aesthetic expressers in their exploration of classical and contemporary ballet, with a mission to maintain a multicultural aesthetic and to expose more African American students to classical ballet training. The deal grants those looking to add nimble and graceful movements to their swagger access to one of six classes, including Ballet I (ages 4–8), Ballet Boys I (ages 4–8), Adult Ballet (ages 15+), and Creative Movement, where dancers can express their exquisite appreciation of corn dogs through dance. Acrobatic scholars will learn proper alignment, basic ballet positions, and how to coordinate movements, all in a fun, uplifting environment for males and females alike. Students can check the school's dress code to determine what type of leotard and tights they'll need to don for each class, to avoid being the dancer who confused the word "leotard" with "Leonard Nimoy costume."
Krav Maga differentiates itself from other martial arts by emphasizing the importance of self-defense techniques based on real-world threats and situations. When faced with a threat, individuals need to be able to remove themselves from the situation as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is where Mid-South Krav Maga's relatively simple, yet highly effective means of neutralizing an aggressor become valuable self-defense tools that can be learned and applied by men and women of virtually any age and fitness level.
Head instructor Patrick Terry believed in the potential of the system so strongly that he spent weeks studying Krav Maga in Israel, the country where it was invented and refined. He brought this training back to the United States, intent on empowering students by teaching them to protect themselves from various acts of aggression, including everything from punches and kicks to headlocks and unsolicited knock-knock jokes. Although the self-defense classes do have the added benefit of bolstering attendees' strength, stamina, and flexibility over time, Mid-South Krav Maga also offers fitness-focused workouts that can use heavy-bag work, interval training, and cardio work to get visitors in-shape.
Midtown Taekwondo's chief instructors Steven and Tara Miller, both of whom are sixth-degree black belts, lead a team of martial-arts experts. Relying on their skills and a spacious facility, staff train students as young as 4 years old in the Korean art of tae kwon do. Junior, all-ages, and adult-level classes help students develop fitness and self-defense skills as well as self-esteem and discipline. The studio also keeps school-age students supervised—and helps them with their homework—through an after-school pick-up program. But whatever the class, all students are held to an oath that encourages respect for authority and has them promise to build a better world.