Oscar Ochoa's passion for salsa dancing sprouted at age 9, grew rapidly at age 18 when he began taking formal lessons, and blossomed at age 24 when he won first place at a salsa competition. Today, the founder of Miami Salsa Driven combines his dancing expertise with the physical discipline he's developed from years of practicing tae kwon do and Brazilian jujitsu to lead detail-oriented salsa lessons. His team puts a big emphasis on creating an environment in which beginners feel welcome and unintimidated by advanced dancers trying to show off complex moves, such as the iceless triple axel. Students have ranged from seasoned dancers to a first-timer police-department captain, who actually ended up joining a professional dance team. Located inside the Tempo Music and Dance Academy, Miami Salsa Driven's classes focus on improving students' self-confidence and fitness levels with hands-on instruction and practice. One of the studio's walls is completely covered in full-length mirrors, allowing dancers to adjust their posture to match the instructor's or enjoy uninterrupted eye contact with themselves.
Wind-leashed high-flier and Skybanditz founder Francisco Escudero has blown spectators away at such competitions as the Velocity Games and the Bahamas kite race. He is the North Miami Beach area coordinator of the Florida Kitesurfing Association and founder of Skybanditz, where he and his trained staff conduct all manner of surf- and sky-borne expeditions. They outfit maritime adventurers with all the proper kiteboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding gear, as well as lead kayak tours through Marine Stadium and several small islands. They also give guests the option to explore the high seas on their own or with friends. Instructors, meanwhile, cover safety and proper techniques during kitesurfing programs that range from beginner level to Level X, an echelon they reserve for students who are ultra-advanced or genetically related to flying squirrels.
Miami Auto Museum at Dezer Collection has amassed more than 1,000 vehicles, including iconic autos such as the 1981 DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future and a 1948 Ford from Grease. His jaw-dropping assemblage can be seen in nine exhibits that sprawl over 250,000 square feet. At Hollywood Cars of the Stars, visitors wander among more than 80 autos that zoomed through blockbusters such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Beverly Hillbillies. A slew of original cars from the Batman movies park in the Batman Lounge, and Dezer has acquired so many vehicles from the James Bond films that they get their own exhibit. The 46 contraptions that nabbed scenes in the spy films range from a T-55 Soviet tank that racked up film time during Goldeneye to six Aston Martins, submarines, helicopters, and the matchbox cars who served as uncredited extras.
In the adjacent Building A, the feats of modern transportation sort into American classics, European classics, and a fleet of more than 200 bikes, motorcycles, and scooters. The restored classics, which include a rare 1927 Duesenberg Model X, often find their way onto period movie sets. After wandering among the vintage beauties and saluting at military vehicles from the 1930s, guests can fast forward into the future at the exhibit of pintsize electric microcars.
The members of PAN Performing Arts Network bring a range of backgrounds to their international collective: some are experienced musical composers, guitarists, and singers, while others are established teaching artists and actors. Their expertise allows them to gather all the arts under one roof with an annual performance season and more than 40 regular classes each week. These classes span instruction in dance styles such as ballet, modern, Afro-Haitian, and Irish step, as well as training in creative movement, acting, instrumental music, and voice. Instructors tailor their classes to the needs of beginner through advanced-level adults, children, and children disguised as adults. They also provide classes suited to senior citizens and students with special needs.
To get tips from Olympic gymnasts or Cirque Du Soleil acrobats, you could read interviews or follow them on social media. Or skip the middlemen and learn directly from them at Gymnastics Du Sol. That's because the gymnastics studio employs a staff that includes members from both renowned institutions who work one-on-one and in small groups with fledgling gymnasts. Here, students learn gravity-defying moves including back handsprings, flips, and cartwheels atop the balance beam. But kids don't just gain physical skills. They also build self-esteem, confidence, and discipline that will serve them whether they compete internationally or challenge parents to a handstand-a-thon.
The two founders of Aquachild Swim School—Scott Launer and Brian Lilburn—came to embrace aquatic education through disparate means. When Scott took his then 2-year-old daughter, Jaya, to swim lessons, he was amazed to see 10-month-old babies floating on their own and began his journey to becoming a youth swim instructor. Brian, who nearly drowned in a backyard pool as a toddler, learned to love the water rather than fear it after his mom enrolled him in swim lessons. Scotty and Brian now share their life-saving knowledge alongside a staff of instructors that are all certified in water safety, first aid, and CPR.
Through Aquachild Swim School’s specially designed lessons, infants as young as 10 months learn to roll from facedown positions to back floats where they can breathe easily, and 1-year-old students begin to swim with their heads down, then twist onto their backs for air. As kids progress, they learn the four major strokes (front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly), brush up on the basics to keep them confident, or start snorkeling. The instructors lead adult lessons to help older students learn how to paddle at pool parties or triumphantly retrieve their boss’s golf ball from a green’s lagoon during corporate outings.