Ballet Long Island, a nonprofit professional ballet company that focuses on bringing affordable ballet performances to its community, has been doing just that since 1985. The consummate dancers, many of whom have studied in the organization’s training and education programs, unleash performances throughout the year across several stages, from Disney-themed shows such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to original numbers.
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.
American Academy of Self Defense's staff teaches centuries of martial-arts wisdom from various cultures into a curriculum of karate, jujitsu, kung fu, and kickboxing classes. The logo displays numerology to represent the ranks of the martial arts taught at the school; 10 stars and 10 stripes symbolize the 10 degrees of black belt all the way up to grandmaster.
But instructors don't stick to a single style in their quest for martial perfection, and their classes accommodate students of all ages. They teach a variety of skills, including the striking art kempo karate, the advanced grappling art of judo, and basic self-defense skills for men and women, working to instill strength, confidence, and self-esteem in their students. The school's senseis promise one-on-one attention and full participation in every class, leaving no one sidelined and wishing they could join in—as frequently happens in organized sports and never happens in royal family polo matches.
Though Shaolin Self Defense Center teaches students how to punch, kick, and defend against opponents, the lesson its instructors find most important is to maintain self-esteem, discipline, and respect. Drawing upon a rich tradition that spans more than 1,500 years, instructors introduce students to Shaolin kung fu's signature blend of targeted strikes and debilitating grapples. However, classes are about more than just physical form. Instructors also encourage emotional and mental balance, leaving students with a quiet confidence that lasts long after lessons conclude.
The instructors at Chi's Martial Arts Training Center work to hone the physiques and mental self-discipline of their students. Led by extensively certified owner and master instructor Sifu Charles R. Chi, self-defense experts lead kids through moves that can help develop motor skills and boost self-confidence. Adult students can get heart rates pumping in fitness-centric classes inspired by mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and archival videos of Richard Simmons doing the wave.
Under the tutelage of Shihan Allie Alberigo, students of all ages learn the arts of ninjutsu and classical jujitsu, revamped for contemporary warriors. With four decades of martial-arts training under his belt, Allie Alberigo teaches his students about hand-to-hand combat and the use of weapons; he has also expanded classes to include disciplines such as judo, yoga, and kickboxing. The Little Warrior program builds punching ability in children as young as 3, and the Third Eye Insight program includes martial arts, yoga, and meditation classes for students who are blind or visually impaired. During these classes, sighted students can also spar and learn while wearing blindfolds. The facility includes two training floors and an archery range, which gives students ample room to flex without destroying nearby equipment.
The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.