Starting at age four, Michelle Larson dedicated herself to Irish dance, quickly ascending the ranks from regional to world championship-level dancing. But at 21, hungry for a change of pace, she focused her energy on interior design. It didn't take long, however, for the rhythmic patter of soft shoes to lure her back like a siren song, and in 1990 she founded the Painter Larson Academy of Irish Dance. Here, she trains children in Irish dance fundamentals, such as foot placement and timing, before teaching basic dances such as the light jig. Michelle's adult students learn these skills, too, as well as group dances that culminate in a traditional Irish dogpile.
For more than a quarter century, Robyn Melanson has developed a thorough knowledge of the dance community as a performer, instructor, choreographer, and coach. As the founder and director of Stage One Dance Studio, she and her staff of dance instructors teach clients the art of kinetic expression in styles as varied as jazz, ballet, and tap. The premises feature three studios, each equipped with raised hard-rock maple floors, where students ages 3-17 hone their skills.
Chance Theater's mission to encourage meaningful dialogues and discussion through provocative theater pieces continues this season. The 2011 Mainstage Series includes an impressive repertoire of spirited plays and musicals. The season kicks off in January with the West Coast premiere of Nerve, an edgy romantic comedy about modern day dating. Next on the docket is The Boy in the Bathroom, a moving musical about a man who finds safety and comfort in a commode. Jerry Springer: The Opera, inspired by the irreverent television talk show, premiers in July, while Up, a play about an altitudinally ambitious American family, closes the curtain in October.
Featured by the Los Angeles Times, Battle of the Dance weaves Spanish flamenco, Irish celtic, Bollywood, and American pop into a cross-cultural spectacle of musical storytelling. Battle of the Dance begins with the tale of Spanish sailors, shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland, who fear some of their most honored traditions—namely, latin dance and not getting shipwrecked—are in danger of being compromised. What ensues is a visual fever dream of choreographed capering. After the hoofers have it out, the narrative gives way to a ventriloquist act, followed by internationally renowned acrobats, The Peres Brothers, who bring their show to the Anaheim stage.
A Broadway-style extravaganza set aboard a replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon, Pirate's Dinner Adventure is one of the only theater performances to require a 250,000-gallon water tank outside of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Manatees. While the dastardly Captain Sebastian the Black lords over his feasting crew of rapscallions, guests get to dine from the deck of one of the six ships surrounding the galleon—and cheer on the plucky pirate representing their vessel in the show. What unfolds is a swashbuckling spectacle of stunts, songs, magic, and acrobatics punctuated with as many fired cannons as belly laughs. Pirates dangle precariously from silk off the 40-foot mast. Treasure chests overflow with booty. Heroes rise from the ranks—and select members of the audience might even be invited by Captain Sebastian to come aboard the stage.