A frequent finalist for Best Comedy Club according to Ventura County Reporter's readers, Ventura Improv Company offers the only improv comedy in Ventura and has been eliciting chortles and guffaws with family-friendly farce for the past 21 years. The VIC's veteran comedic combatants perform unscripted comedy through scenes, games, and music created on the spot. The VIC performs shows such as Spontaneous Broadway, a full-length musical whose plot is conceived through audience suggestions, and TheatreSports Team Match, a two-team battle where competitors perform a challenge set by the host.
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 an instructor as the teachers 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.
Just before Halloween, Theatricum BOO-tanicum stocks its wooded grounds in the heart of Topanga Canyon with ghosties friendly to all ages. Throughout the evening, spooky guides weave stories about things that go bump or hiss in the night while teaching the basics of carving pumpkins and how to avoid accidentally granting them consciousness. Costumed thespians, many of whom can be seen on stage in less ghastly roles during the Theatricum Botanicum's regular season, staff a haunted house and game booths, and live musicians including Tommy Santee Klaws, Peter Alsop, and the Matt Van Winkle Band perform ghoulish hits. Guests can attempt to outscare the pros at a costume contest, and for an additional $10, help themselves to a portion of chicken and waffles from Bon Mélange Catering.
New York-native John Cassese's motto is, "If you can walk, you can dance." The celebrity dance instructor and choreographer's own quick-stepping career began at the tender age of 10, jumpstarting a passion that would eventually take him careening across the stages of off-Broadway productions, nightclubs, dance competitions, and the occasional monster-truck rally. It wasn't until he relocated to Los Angeles that an agent dubbed him "The Dance Doctor," and soon after, he found his fleet-footed prowess and teaching abilities in high demand amongst production studios such as Sony, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox.
Between choreographing a Charleston dance sequence on AMC's Mad Men and singing at the 50th birthday parties of Billy Crystal and Wolfgang Puck, John leads a team of instructors as they teach celebs and everyday Tinseltowners the finer points of styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop. Despite all the fanfare, his biggest praise comes from his work with soon-to-be-married couples, who seek his advice on everything from basic steps and song selection, to the length of the post-cake-cutting conga line.
The husband-and-wife duo behind Magicopolis, by now seasoned television guests thanks to frequent praising press, delight and surprise audiences with their Broadway-style magicomedy stage show Escape Reality. The 90- to 120-minute spectacle features original takes on classic magic enigmas, demonstrating dangerous escape acts and on-stage levitation, a skill first used during dunks at Salem all-star basketball games. Eye-popping feats are punctuated with engaging music, comedy, and audience participation, including mind-boggling mind-reading demonstrations. Magicopolis is an especially up-close-and-personal affair, and unlike Hollywood films, where the actors are trapped behind an impersonal screen, the Magicopolis magicians make lasting connections with their gaping guests. Great for unawkward first dates that leave the parlor tricks to the pros, a visit to Magicopolis is a singular entertainment outing. Call to make a reservation.
In 2003, the teaching staffs behind the Butler-Fearon and the O’Connor-Kennedy Schools realized something: though both academies nurtured the physical, mental, and competitive skills of scores of young Irish dancers, they could form a more robust program by combining forces. Once united, the team of Rose Fearon, Vincent O’Connor, and Kathleen O’Connor—each a certified Irish dance adjudicator—implemented a revised curriculum reaching students from both American coasts to the solid-ice skyscrapers of Ontario. Today, Butler-Fearon-O'Connor trains everyone from girls buckling their jig shoes for the first time to experienced adults, many of whom—such as 2011 world champion Emily Penner—have danced competitively at home or across the pond and landed spots on touring companies for shows such as Riverdance.
Focusing on perfecting traditional form and technique, classes are kept as small as possible, ensuring personalized attention from one of the school's 10 experienced, decorated instructors. Students also learn stamina, flexibility, and presentation, with an emphasis on avoiding motions that tend to draw judges' ire, such as clumsy arm placement and badgering the audience. Many locations also host more casual classes for adults and groups such as Girl Scout troops.