Like many of her fellow dance teachers at Gotta Dance Studio, owner Cindy Gebelein first donned ballet flats at age 6. Throughout a lifetime of performing and 35 years of teaching, she’s worn through copious dance shoes while sharing her passion with others. She opened Gotta Dance Studio in 1995 to further pass on her love for performance, arming younger generations with the technical skills to develop into true artists.
The instructors elucidate a variety of dance styles, from perennial favorites such as ballet, jazz, and tap to modern styles such as hip-hop and contemporary. For students truly taken with the stage, a musicaltheater and performing arts program builds upon the physical conditioning and movement training of dance with voice- lessons and resume-building performances. Three dance troupes, each with their own particular focus, partake in demonstrations and competitions at both the local and national level. Thanks to their travels, these squads have come home with multiple awards and at least a dozen stray tap-dancing cats.
A gallery of masterpieces showcases stunningly virtuosic renderings—which are especially impressive considering they were created by kids. While fostering a friendly, cheerful atmosphere, instructors teach classical art skills to classes of up to 12 students at a time. During weekly classes, the skilled instructors demonstrate how to realistically illustrate animals, figures, and still-life scenes using traditional media. "Creativity follows mastery" is the KidsArt philosophy, so they designed the sort of program they imagine the old masters would have approved. Planting graphite sticks and paintbrushes in pupils' hands, instructors teach color mixing, show students how to break an image into its component parts, and instill necessary behaviors such as focus and patience. Programs include individualized drawing and painting lessons and special-topic workshops, such as clay sculpture, figure drawing, and Anime/cartooning.
From their home base at Van Nuys Airport, the certified flight instructors at Encore Flight apply what they learned as students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to the training of new pilots-to-be through everything from discovery flights to full pilot's certification. The crew goes to work aboard an extensive fleet of Piper and Cessna light-sport aircraft, or doles out instruction while safely planted on the ground inside two FAA-approved flight simulators, one a stationary apparatus and the other a full-motion Redbird FMX. Fully enclosed in the Redbird's cockpit, students experience the motions of actual flight on all three axes and enjoy more than 200 degrees of wrap-around visuals, helping them spot hazards such as oncoming flocks of birds or commuting superheroes.
The nonprofit Wildlife Learning Center populates its ancient olive grove with more than 50 species from across the globe, teaching visitors the value of conservation while raising funds for wildlife sanctuary and public education through its Wildlife Learning Foundation. Alongside a circular walking path, a menagerie of animals, including lynxes, arctic foxes, kinkajous, and college sports mascots, frolics within landscaped enclosures. Throughout the afternoon, friendly biologists give training talks on the hour and facilitate up-close interaction with various critters. The zoo also hosts children's camps and birthday parties for precocious naturalists to ensure a future generation of nature-savvy citizens.
The air pulses with energy inside MB2 Raceway's cavernous facility, where bright-red European go-karts zoom around the winding track at thrilling speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. As the powerful electric engines send thunderous roars bouncing off the walls, a giant projection screen broadcasts racers' lap time, race position, and corporate sponsorships in real time. Meanwhile, off the course friends, families, and party guests engage in friendly competition on the facility's arcade games and pool tables, or celebrate special occasions in its party rooms. The raceway also hosts corporate events combined with special team-building exercises, such as the blindfold challenge, where a blindfolded driver is guided by a teammate via walkie-talkie.
Six million stone tiles, 30,000 square feet of glass, 11,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 4,000 tons of steel. That’s what it took to build Valley Performing Arts Center at CSU Northridge. Much like a squeaky clown nose, each component serves both an aesthetic and acoustic purpose—the curtains that periodically line the back walls, for instance, are made of sound-absorptive wool-serge fabric, and share acoustic duties with elegant reflecting walls designed to amplify sound. The extra touches come in handy when the center’s calendar launches into full swing—it promises performances by entertainers ranging from dance and theater troupes to violinists, jazz musicians, and chart-topping artists such as Rufus Wainwright.