Using audience suggestions as a creative springboard, Made Up Theatre’s quartet of resident performers conjures chortles with fully improvised scenes, games, and musical numbers every Saturday night at 8 p.m. Classes grant guests of varying performance backgrounds an opportunity to sample the art of improv before climbing through three ranks of classes that emphasize quick responses and structuring longer-form scenes. Made Up Theatre also totes its trick bag to the corporate world with team-building seminars that draw upon improv’s communicative foundation to improve group interactions and send stress off to take up residence in rant-fueled standup comics.
Originally founded in 1970 to give high-school and college students a chance to hone their onstage skills, TheatreWorks dedicated itself early on to promoting new work that grappled with America's changing social landscape. Exploring the experiences of ethnic and cultural minorities, the group built a following throughout the subsequent decades, growing to its present size of 41 permanent staffers, an annual budget of $7 million, and 8,000 subscribers. Its New Works Initiative continues to seek out up-and-coming voices from around the country, helping new playwrights find their footing and prompting embittered older writers to test new pseudonyms.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio 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. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. 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.
Drop into hip-hop (Tuesday, 8–9 p.m.) to energize your stale disco moves; materialize in tap (Wednesday, 7–8 p.m.) to invigorate your toes with rhythm; dance and shake off the calories, Latin-style, with Zumba (Thursday, 8–9 p.m.); or open up a can of grace with ballet (Saturday, 12–1 p.m.). With five gleaming studios and a full squad of certified dance instructors breaking the beat together under a single roof, this much dance has not been gathered in one place since the release of YouTube as a DVD box set. The drop-in classes are designed to accommodate dancers of all skill and experience levels. The small class size ensures the type of personal attention formerly only children longed for upon the arrival of a newborn baby brother. Sign up with a few friends to gain new moves and lose a few pounds in the process.
Cheryl Burke took the dance world by storm in 2006 when she won "Dancing with the Stars" twice, once in the winter and again in the fall. In addition to fame, her performance on the show also netted her two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography. When she's not busy with the show, an acting gig, or a magazine shoot, she still finds time to teach at her eponymous dance studio, Cheryl Burke Dance, which she co-founded with her mother in 2009.
The facility features three dance studios, including a sprawling 4,118 sq. ft. studio, as well as a veteran team of instructors, some of whom are National and World dance champions. Together, in private or group settings, they teach nearly 20 different styles of dance, including the Waltz, Rumba, and the Lindy Hop. Once students feel confident enough with their dance skills or the swelling from the surgery to repair their second left foot subsides, they can attend one of the studio's dance parties to show off their new moves.
The instructors at Firebird Dance Studio, who have been teaching for 22 years, share their passion for dancing through lessons for students as young as 14 months. Aspiring dancers learn contemporary, ballroom, folk, Latin, and modern dance styles. Classes also give students opportunities to perform. Additionally, the studio has won the Best of Mountain View Award for two consecutive years.