As a child in Buenos Aires, Angel Echeverria would sit on the porch of his family home and watch his aunt and uncle dance the tango. Music often spilled into the streets of his neighborhood, where many tango musicians lived. By the time he was a teenager in the early 1960s, Angel began studying the tango himself, and nearly 50 years later he founded The Tango Room Dance Center with Julie Friedgen. Like Angel, Julie grew up watching her parents’ Argentine friends dance tango at parties, and eventually became a ballet and flamenco dancer. Though she didn’t begin learning the tango until 13 years ago, once she started she immediately knew it was the dance to which she would devote the rest of her life.
Not surprisingly, The Tango Room is dedicated to the Argentine style of dance; many of the instructors hail from Argentina and lead classes in traditional, contemporary, waltz, and milonga variations. On Saturday nights the school transforms into El Encuentro—which translates to “the encounter”—a fast-paced dance party modeled after the tango clubs of Buenos Aires. Beyond tango, the school also hosts classes in salsa, belly dance, and R & B line dancing as well as Zumba and bujinkan, a Japanese martial art.
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.
Realizing their community's limited resources for foundational art education, the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art was founded in 2002 as a portal for blossoming art students to sharpen skills with the help of talented, professional artists. Thus, an eclectic team of instructors took shape through a hand-selection process that yielded skill sets from the realms of fine art, entertainment, and paint-by-number calculus. Now in its 10th year of art education, the school—named a top 10 school worldwide by American Artist in Nov. 2011—acts as a springboard for students pursuing degrees in fine arts or the digitally driven video-game and film world of entertainment art. Individual classes afford à la carte education for beginning and advanced students of sculpture, drawing, painting, and illustration. Regardless of the field of study, LAAFA seeks to assist all students in completing advanced degrees at other institutions, accessing local art resources, and solving Van Gogh's tricky magic-eye series.
A diverse team of instructors fills Rising Lotus Yoga's bright studio with a profusion of beginner and advanced yoga classes seven days a week. Through more than a dozen types of yoga classes, the instructors help students deepen familiar poses, develop breathing techniques, and finally remove their yoga mats' training wheels. They teach traditional yoga styles such as Iyengar and hatha-based Gentle & Therapeutics, as well as the studio's signature class, Rising Lotus Flow, which aims to merge body and mind through dynamic, creative vinyasa sequences. The instructors guide students through three different skill levels and can train the most dedicated among them to become yoga teachers.
When not perfecting students' postures and teaching trees to breathe louder, Rising Lotus Yoga's instructors lend their time to the Seva Project, an initiative to bring the healing benefits of yoga to people in crisis.
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.
Led by chiropractor, certified sports physician, and jack-of-all-musculoskeletal-trades Doctor of Chiropractic Ben Drillings, the instructors and staff at a2zHealth Massage Schools train students in the principles and techniques of massage. The school is certified by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education and is a member of the California Massage Schools Association, allowing it to produce massage technicians, massage therapists, and holistic bodywork practitioners. The massage-technician course requires 300 hours of specialized study, whereas massage therapists engage in 500 hours and holistic bodywork practitioners complete 1,000 hours to graduate. Students also gain firsthand experience practicing their lessons on the public at a2zHealth Massage Schools? student Swedish-massage teaching clinic. After their massages, clients assist in the learning process by giving students valuable feedback.