Arthur Murray 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. 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.
The accomplished and experienced strutting instructors at Ladera Ranch Dance Academy, a family owned studio, train toddlers, tweens, and teens in the art and discipline of dance. Boogie beginners as young as 2 can establish a solid dance foundation and a lifelong affinity for sequins with the academy’s array of classes divvied up by age, experience, and type.
At the age of 5, Natalie Costa’s daughter was cute, lively, and photogenic—reason enough to give show business a try, she thought. But with no one to guide her and her daughter through the maze of booking auditions and getting representation, she found herself out thousands of dollars on useless portfolio shoots and manager fees. In response, Costa founded The Performers Academy, modeling the friendly, welcoming atmosphere on the dancing school she loved as a child. She made sure to stock it with instructors who had the inside knowledge she could have used at the outset: all professional actors, directors, and producers with lots of experience in film and TV and a special focus on children’s programming.
The academy caters both to kids seriously trying to break into the business and to casual enthusiasts who find performing a liberating way to build self-confidence. Age-appropriate classes deal with such key topics as managing audition stress, honing improvisational comedy skills, and projecting loud enough to be heard over that giant gong that somebody keeps bumping into.
MVDPAC has strutted its way to the top of numerous competitions, including first place in the 2009 CityVoter OC Hotlist for best dance studio. Under the limber guidance of decorated instructors, both novice and seasoned can shakers choose from the list of one-hour daily drop-in classes, where twinkle-toes light up floors with sparks rivaled only by Christmas trees that have fallen in the fireplace. Once inside the spacious studio, bodies bound across seven sprawling rooms and a studio theater. Students can elongate into states of grace through a selection of ballet courses, animate their legs and develop rhythm in the hip-hop courses, or practice freeform toe tapping and scatting the Greek alphabet through the jazz classes.
Renovated in 2011, the Museum of Making Music showcases a permanent display of hundreds of unusual and vintage instruments charting the progression of song-crafting from 1900 to modern times. Five museum galleries present popular music, innovations in instruments and their manufacture, and marketing and distribution techniques in five eras throughout the 20th century. Racks of gleaming instruments line the cases, as well as more eclectic pieces such as double-neck guitars, the crossbreed GuitarViol, and an ancient, forgotten instrument whose name is always whispered: the "clarinet." The museum is dotted with interactive exhibits, giving visitors the chance to craft their own tunes on the exhibit's drum kits or keytar.
Veteran ballet dancers Lauri-Michelle and Benjamin Houk run a duo of prominent dance academies designed to aid children in the pursuit of toe-tapping excellence. Five four-hour days of dance camp break up the drudgery of summertime like an ice-cream truck breaks up a cul-de-sac water-balloon fight. Jazz Contemporary Hip-Hop workshop and the Ballet Summer Intensive offer various age-specific seminars for young hoofers all the way up to older teens, and the Mary Poppins Musical Theater Camp trains the starry eyes and limbs of Broadway-bound 6- to 12-year-olds. The academies' Dancing Princesses camp teaches 4- to 6-year-olds how to gracefully sway with any glass footwear or beast dance partner.