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.
For more than 30 years, Southern California Golf Schools' professional golfers and teachers have been passing their club-swinging tutelage on to golfers of all ages. The director of the golf school's operations, Steve Bean, started his teaching career in the early 80s and went on to teach alongside such golf luminaries as Derek Hardy and Hank Haney, who was Tiger Woods' swing coach and shadow-puppet partner. Bean has been a golf pro for several country clubs, has worked as a custom fitter for Titleist, and has owned multiple golf schools in San Diego and Las Vegas since 2011. In 2010, he was named the teacher of the year by the Professional Golf Teachers & Coaches Association of America.
For tennis players, the elements are not only capable of spoiling an outdoor match or practice session entirely, they can also be taxing to the body in the long-term, especially for those trying to put in the court time required to attain greatness. That reality was behind the creation of Hampton Indoor Tennis Center, which?unlike most sunbaked, wind-lashed, and rain-beaten tennis complexs?offers players a respite from the weather with four indoor courts. Underneath low-glare lights, players trade ground strokes and volleys atop blue-and-green courts that provide a medium-speed bounce and are identical in composition to the hard-court surface of the Indian Wells courts where the BNP Paribas Open is played. Tennis balls pop crisply against racket strings as trainers teach youngsters on a miniature court with dimensions suited to the de-pressurized balls that foster proper stroke development in undersized racquet-wielders.
The staff uses experience playing and teaching to forge formidable players, emphasizing proper footwork, conditioning, and not accidentally shouting one?s social security number while serving. They preside over a wide range of adult lessons, including clinics in which players learn alongside others of the same skill level and one-hour cardio tennis sessions, which feature a series of high-energy drills. The Center?s junior tennis program helps youngsters meet on-court goals of all kinds, from those simply looking to play recreationally to those hoping to grow into an elite competitor.
Across the sun-soaked floors, toddlers twirl and scuttle, joyful in their imitation of ballet teachers who instill in them discipline and classic technique. Starting with students ages 2.5 and older, highly trained artistic directors Rachel Swinson-Jacinto (formerly of New York's American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet School as well as a former principal dancer of Inland Dance Theater) and Quincy Jacinto (former principal dancer with Ballet Pacifica and Philippine Ballet Theater) lead dance classes in their homey studio. Ballet instruction is set up for all ages—including one-on-one coaching for professionals—as is contemporary, jazz, tap, and hip-hop dance. The team also runs musical theater and acting classes, as well as yoga and Zumba to create more well-rounded performers.
Black belts dominate the instructors' wardrobes at Kicks Tae Kwon Do. More than 10 of the studio's instructors have one, and several possess belts of even greater distinction, including grand master Kit Mattson, who is an eighth-degree black belt. All of this talent and experience equates to expertly taught martial-arts classes where preschoolers and adults alike can learn how to punch, kick, and deliver zingers like Bruce Lee. The instructors also work their self-defense techniques into calorie-burning mixed-marital-arts, kickboxing, and boot-camp workouts.