Within the multihued walls of Kidville’s indoor playland, tykes expand their minds, network with members of their peer group, and deplete their vast energy reserves. Babies, toddlers, and kids 6 or younger delve into classes developed by Kidville’s early-childhood-development gurus. Burgeoning Beethovens can swivel their hips, flex their sing-along muscles, and edit their massive music manuscripts during one of Kidville’s music and dance classes, or enlist in one of the art classes to create a piece that captures their inner rage toward broccoli. Fun and fit gym classes let tots run, roll, and hover through gauntlets of plush blocks and spongy play mats. Clasping hands and scampering legs can also roam freely through Kidville’s sprightly indoor playspace, though all munchkins must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or trustworthy primate.
Like most good ideas, Gymboree Play and Music didn't begin in a business meeting?it began out of necessity. In 1976, Joan Barnes, a California mom, found herself frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time. Knowing that other parents were undoubtedly feeling the same frustration, she took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. She consulted experts to design a curriculum of activities to foster the development of children?s cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play. She hired a nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers. And her staff began conducting entertaining classes covering subjects ranging from music to sports to impart valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. As their children learned and socialized, parents also found benefit in meeting and befriending other moms and dads in their local area. More than 30 years later, her vision has proved to be a success: more than 712 child-centered franchises now spread over 42 countries, bringing confidence and creativity to thousands of youngsters in several continents and to one in the center of the earth.
Spotlighted in Time magazine and the New York Times, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a nationally renowned program offering a unique take on musical education for children 3 months to 4 years old. Classes consist of 45 minutes of singing, dancing, musical storytelling, and jamming. Children's songsmith David Weinstone designed a curriculum celebrating the urban environment as well as universal concerns of youth via his classes, which have exploded into the national spotlight since their humble beginnings in 1997. Rather than being strict and results-driven, the teaching style at Music for Aardvarks is based on adult modeling and exposing children to ideas and sounds without dumbing them down. Parent participation is strongly encouraged for atonal squealers and former Yes drummers alike. Check the Music for Aardvarks website for the drop-in sessions and 10-class series schedules.
Raised in France by German-Egyptian parents who spoke English at home, Maurice Hazan was destined for a life in linguistics. The author of 80 books in 10 languages, the polyglot began leading French classes in the U.S. 20 years ago, where he first developed what would become his intuitive QTalk method. Whereas some techniques prepare students to pass an exam, and then the stuents immediately forget their lessons, Hazan's picture-based programs etch vocabulary into long-term memory by minimizing written English and making students cover their dictionary tattoos. His classes emphasize speaking in complete, grammatically accurate sentences from day one.
Adults and children can join level-appropriate programs, which Hazan is constantly improving by developing new games and study devices in the school's basement workshop. The classes that aren't led by Hazan himself are conducted by a staff of native Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and other language speakers, all of whom he's trained himself.
Kristin Hanson began her journey toward fine jewelry-making mastery by walking down a path less traveled. Raised in a home where expression was encouraged, she spread her roots to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Then she took a leap. She traveled to the wilds of Colorado to apprentice under master goldsmith Harold O'Connor, learning his nuanced, perfectionist techniques and method for training squirrels to be workshop assistants. Her studies then carried her to Florence and Tuscany before drawing her back to the East Coast.
Kristin's life-inspired works embody the contemporary with forms that highlight the innate beauty of her materials. Her trademark couture jewelry has caught the eye of such publications as Lucky and InStyle. In short courses and intensive programs, she hews to a teaching philosophy that fosters others' styles instead of encouraging copycats of her own. Except during special exhibits, Kristin handcrafts each piece in 60 Reade, her 6,000-square-foot Tribeca gallery, and specializes in conflict-free pink diamonds from an Australian mine.
For more than 20 years, the professional photographers at Charlie's Angels Photography have worked to capture images that not only preserve memories but also incorporate artistic touches. Their digital galleries boast shots from larger occasions such as weddings and runway shows to private events such as boudoir and portrait sessions. Their staff also includes professional makeup artists, who can prep subjects for shoots or gussy up complexions before weddings or high-school-graduation re-enactments.