All veterans of the entertainment industry, the instructors at Ovation School for the Performing Arts don't believe in just instilling acting, singing, or dancing skills into their students. Instead, they impart all three, turning students of all skill levels into triple threats of stage and screen. Designed for kids and teens aged 5–18, the nonprofit's twice-weekly sessions are divided into 45-minute blocks whose subjects include acting, singing, and dance styles such as hip-hop and tap. Ovation also hosts private lessons focused on voice, piano, and guitar.
At Vamp Salon & Spa, licensed massage therapist Shannon Wyrwitzke skillfully extracts stress from overworked bodies and ushers in all-over relaxation via a 60-minute massage. Long, gentle strokes characterize the Swedish massage, which chases tension from entangled musculature with persistent pressure and a strongly worded eviction notice. In addition to prompting relaxation and easing aches, the method promotes proactive circulation to help to heal tissue tears quickly. Alternatively, the deep-tissue massage focuses on specific sore spots, targeting damaged tendons with intensely applied pressure. Wyrwitzke's firm touch quiets muscle spasms, unfurls knots, and decisively settles land disputes between feuding muscle groups. With increased limberness and flexibility, massaged clients can swivel their heads up and around to gawk at Vamp’s high ceilings and trendy décor.
Kidstarz International Academy of Creative Arts' staff believes learning shouldn't stop when the school bell rings. Instructors aim to inspire kids with engaging classes that focus on a variety of subjects, from painting to sculpting, foreign languages to dance. Instead of distributing textbooks and teaching from behind a desk, they get kids involved in the lesson, encouraging them to get their hands dirty with paint or create silly sentences in Spanish in order to increase the likelihood that they'll retain their new skills and spread the word to their stuffed animals when they get home. Adults can also get in on the learning by enrolling in Big K Studios craft classes that teach students sewing, painting, and jewelry-making techniques.
An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.
At the age of 5, Natalie Costa’s daughter was cute, lively, and photogenic—reason enough to give show business a try, she thought. But with no one to guide her and her daughter through the maze of booking auditions and getting representation, she found herself out thousands of dollars on useless portfolio shoots and manager fees. In response, Costa founded The Performers Academy, modeling the friendly, welcoming atmosphere on the dancing school she loved as a child. She made sure to stock it with instructors who had the inside knowledge she could have used at the outset: all professional actors, directors, and producers with lots of experience in film and TV and a special focus on children’s programming.
The academy caters both to kids seriously trying to break into the business and to casual enthusiasts who find performing a liberating way to build self-confidence. Age-appropriate classes deal with such key topics as managing audition stress, honing improvisational comedy skills, and projecting loud enough to be heard over that giant gong that somebody keeps bumping into.
MVDPAC has strutted its way to the top of numerous competitions, including first place in the 2009 CityVoter OC Hotlist for best dance studio. Under the limber guidance of decorated instructors, both novice and seasoned can shakers choose from the list of one-hour daily drop-in classes, where twinkle-toes light up floors with sparks rivaled only by Christmas trees that have fallen in the fireplace. Once inside the spacious studio, bodies bound across seven sprawling rooms and a studio theater. Students can elongate into states of grace through a selection of ballet courses, animate their legs and develop rhythm in the hip-hop courses, or practice freeform toe tapping and scatting the Greek alphabet through the jazz classes.