The staccato beat of conga drums rises over the deep voice of a bass guitar and the higher trills of the timbales and piano. Head dancer Evan Margolin and his bevy of experienced instructors lead students in classes that take beginners through basic footwork and salsa rhythms, with intermediate and advanced sessions offering salsa aficionados more challenging instruction. The social class structure—partners rotate throughout every session—creates a low-pressure learning environment and keeps dancers from scrambling to locate a partner or human-shaped tupperware container. The one-hour beginner classes are mostly filled with salsa novices and new dancers, and Dance SF's experienced and engaging local salsateers are patient and friendly when showing new students how to bust well-timed moves. During intermediate classes, which require six months or more of social dancing experience, students focus on timing and cross-body leads with turns. After some evening classes, new dancers are invited to join an all-night salsa party where they can put their new moves in practice. Students should wear comfortable clothing, which includes dancing shoes, but does not include rear-flapped onesie pajamas.
Jill Dailey McIntosh has always been intrigued by the human body and how it moves?so much so that she graduated in 1991 with a kinesiology degree and soon thereafter decided to open her own Pilates teaching studio. But it wasn't until years later that this curiosity would manifest itself in a single question: "How can one aggressively transform the shape of their body while still maintaining proper alignment of the spine?" Eventually Jill began to examine her diverse fitness background, pulling low-impact movements from ballet, Pilates, and even orthopedic-exercise routines to create the basis for her fitness style, The Dailey Method.
Now, more than a decade later, Dailey's fitness routine has ballooned into studios sprawled across more than 10 states and gained praise from Self, Allure, FitPregnancy, and InStyle magazines. Regardless of the location, instructors remain true to Jill's mission of offering a diverse series of exercises that focus on toning and lengthening the body while lengthening the spine and building strong core muscles.
Tony Carr was something of a renaissance man, simultaneously holding degrees from UCLA and UC Irvine, working on a vaccine for Alzheimer's, and preparing for a sailboat race to Hawaii. His regatta ambitions, however, were unjustly cut short by a debilitating lower-spine injury. Despite this twist of fate, Tony persisted, and took up Bikram yoga at the Bikram Yoga College of India as just the latest endeavor of a man with diverse ambitions. Within one month, his symptoms had been alleviated, and within four months they had almost vanished completely.
Tony had found his new passion, and he immersed himself in it with enough enthusiasm to lose 30 pounds—the average British child's entire net worth—and transform his body in the process. He traveled to India and studied personally with Bikram Choudhury, the father of Bikram yoga. Tony became certified to teach in 1998. Now he leads classes at Bikram Yoga College of India, where he guides students through the 26 postures in the hopes that they, too, can transform their lives.
Monkey Yoga Shala's attentive instructors help students hone energy, balance, and strength with individualized instruction in a variety of specialized yoga classes. The studio's signature Isometric Monkey yoga melds aspects of dance, martial arts, and Ashtanga yoga to create an exhilarating low-impact workout. Additionally, resistance stretches lengthen limbs as instructors personally assist students in finding their most comfortable pose. In Vinyasa classes, aspiring yogis harness deliberate breathing to flow through asanas and backbends with the grace of a swan performing downward-facing dog. New mothers gather for 90-minute Mom & Baby sessions, toting tots through a series of mind-body exercises designed to increase energy and facilitate more focused baby-bottle juggling. Monkey Yoga's flexible roster of early-morning and late-night classes beckons participants to the spacious studio, which glows with natural light and hardwood floors polished well enough to reflect the radiance emanating from students? auras.
With the vision of a bracelet in mind, a student lays a strip of steel over an anvil and begins bending it under the blows of a hammer. Down the hall, another budding artist pours molten glass into a mold, which soon cools into a decorative orb. Each year, the faculty at The Crucible educates roughly 5,000 adults and children in arts that range from ceramics to fire dancing. Starting in 1999 with a $1,750 grant, the nonprofit's founders?a small group of artists that includes sculptor Michael Sturtz?nurtured a vision that took them from a 6,000-square-foot warehouse to a solar-powered, 56,000-square-foot arts-education studio. Beyond the classrooms, The Crucible also hosts galleries where both students and faculty show their work, exploring the various elements of design or states of longing for a Twinkie.
The two grand exhibition rooms at the Institute of Mosaic Art show off the textured tile work of its staff and visiting artists, with more works displayed outside in its lush garden. Within, more than 80 classes and workshops for all skill levels cover a wide range of topics and techniques, including working with glass, smalti, and tiles, as well as projects such as jewelry and exterior decorations. Visiting artists conduct special workshops, giving students insight into their creative processes and suggestions on the best brand of car windshield to smash for supplies.
The institute also houses Mosaic Studio Supply, which fills its homey halls with materials and manuals for all projects. Mosaic makers can browse the stock of a la carte supplies, from colorful tiles to tools and adhesives, as well as kits full of color-coordinated pieces.