Josefina Garcia and Lisa Martinez have been studying dance since they were each 5 years old. Together, they started J and L Dance Center in 1992 to pass on their know-how and instill a strong sense of self-worth in each of their protégés. These days, they usher students to win awards and recognition at showcases and competitions throughout the country. Newbies of all ages train under these masters and a crew of skilled instructors who specialize in a range of genres including ballet, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, and jazz styles. Wood-sprung floors in all three dance rooms cushion the fall of toes and feet in flight, and wall-to-wall mirrors throughout the space enable students to dance-battle their reflections.
East Coast Fitness’s 20,000 square feet house separate rooms for martial arts, spinning, group workouts, massages, and general exercise. On the main floor, strength-training machines, cardio machines, and free weights occupy separate areas, with additional room sectioned off for stability ball exercise and a herd of eight punching bags. Certified trainers and instructors also lead more than 15 classes that range from spinning and Pilates to yoga, kickboxing, agility training, and Zumba. In the lobby, a juice bar refreshes hungry athletes and a separate room offers free childcare.
For many, being a professional singer is a distant and often unrealized dream. But for students of The Singing Experience, the reality gets more attainable, even if only for one night. That's because the program immerses performers in a singing workshop that teaches vocal techniques and helps them overcoms stage fright. At the end of the course, students sing a song in a live cabaret performance on the stage of The Triad.
All this was made possible by performer Linda Amiel Burns, who dreamed up The Singing Experience in 1977 as a way to help novice singers tackle their fears of performing and of sea witches stealing their voices. It's also become a valuable tool of expression. "You sing out anger, love, your problems," Burns told The New York Times in 2009. She knows what she's talking about—she founded the business after a divorce and has helped countless others since. She has also earned accolades along the way from CBS and Cabaret Scenes magazine. A member of SAG and AFTRA, Linda also lends her talents to various arts programs, and is a two-time winner of the MAC Award.
Some couples write their own marriage vows, while others—well, others prefer a more fiery expression of their love and commitment. At New York Wedding Ring, metal artist Sam Abbay helps couples forge their own engagement and wedding rings from raw precious metals, coins, and existing jewelry. At a studio replete with all the necessary equipment, Abbay will guide you and your significant other as you choose your raw material—like palladium, gold, and platinum—and conceive a design for rings that can even include engravings and settings for gemstones.
The process, which can take as little as four hours or as long as a day, includes melting the metals, annealing, and shaping. All the while, Abbay is on hand to offer advice such as how thick wedding rings should be and how to keep them polished if there are no automatic car washes in your area to run through. He can also work with clients to design a custom ring of his own creation. The romantic experience culminates on a couple's big day, when they exchange their handmade and personally designed rings—a perfect symbol for the love they've nurtured.
She's a celebrity-sought crooner and Parade music writer who's toured with Barry White, Patti LaBelle, and Stevie Wonder, but Ilana Martin founded Vocal Workout Signing School to do something else: teach. Along with fellow vocal coaches Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley, Taharqa Patterson, [Maria Lane]http://gr.pn/1lEIRqe), and Samantha Harrison—singers whose talents, like Ilana's, have also been sought by touring stars—Ilana teaches groups, duos, and individuals. All five of the coaches aim for what Ilana terms a "'me singing' sound," instead of having all pupils sing the same way or lip-sync to whatever is playing on the radio in a given moment. The school's holistic philosophy incorporates awareness of one's mind, body, and spirit, revealing confident tones via a balanced, happy instrument. Forbes and Refinery 29 have each sent their own reporters to work with Ilana, resulting in lighthearted videos that showcase the deft way in which the renowned vocal coach puts nervous pupils at ease.
Simon Herfray, a French native hailing from the Vendée region, is a master's-degree-certified pastry chef and baker. He's whisked and sculpted fine treats for esteemed establishments in the London and New York culinary scenes—Aubaine and Bluebird in South Kensington, Falai and Café M Studio in Manhattan, and Bacchus Bistro and La Défense Bistro in Brooklyn.
At French'Encas, Simon directs his world-class sweetmeat techniques toward kitchens full of apron-wearing students and in-disguise dentists. Whether it's their first or hundredth time gripping pastry bags and whisks, attendees handcraft their very own macarons, chocolate-lemon tarts, chocolate fondant, and full quiche lorraine meals. Some classes cater to advanced students, some cover basics, and others suit all skill levels. And when not instructing students, Simon and his team whip up treats for parties and other events.