The Maplewood Theatre's name hovers above the marquee in an art-deco script over a row of lights, conjuring up nostalgia of the classic cinemas of yesteryear. But the retro-style facade doesn't mean that the movies are also throwbacks. Instead, the modern movie screens flicker with first-run films. The theater's 3D capabilities allow patrons to slip on glasses that make them feel as if they're in the middle of the action or to protect their eyes when they accidentally dunk their faces into 3-D popcorns.
Playwrights Theatre stages productions of up-and-coming plays each year through its New Play Development program. The 2010–2011 season keeps the theatre's long-standing commitment to fresh ars theatrica with three works: Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan, MoM A Rock Concert Musical by Richard Caliban, and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Julie Jensen. Your season subscription to Playwrights Theatre entitles you to view all three performances, receive a 50% discount on two tickets for family or friends, gain admittance to opening-night parties, and attend post-show talkbacks about new-play development and the inside story on plays. You'll also receive a pass to the FORUM staged reading series, enough to attend a reading of each of the series' 13 new plays and discuss the material with artists in an intimate setting.
Debbie Coury was a child when she began dancing at Yvette Dance Studio. The passion cultivated in that community-focused studio catapulted her career, as she went on to dance on Broadway and in Atlantic City. Though she had a taste for the glamour of a big production, she was thrilled to return back to Yvette studio, which began as a focused training program in 1954, as head instructor. She has recruited professional dancers and certified-fitness instructors, along with guest Broadway dancers and choreographers to train children aged 3 or older and adults alike in dance fundamentals. Whether classical and barre ballet, tap, or jazz-funk hip-hop, they frequently incorporate character and lyrical work to familiarize students with all the elements of performing onstage and stomping out Morse-code commands to the band conductor.
In lieu of recitals, instructors dance alongside their youngest students in dance demonstrations, where students show their parents what they've learned without the pressure of performance or lights and makeup. Older children work out new techniques in front of judges for regular testing and receive specific feedback to foster a sense of accomplishment. With instruction spanning nearly 60 years, many former dancers now bring their own children to studio classes held in the original private home, a building that now hosts three private studios. Additionally, many former dancers have employed their movement skills to join companies such as the Rockettes, Alvin Ailey, and Geoffrey Ballet.
Starry Night Dance Studio hosts a never-ending dance party atop its polished wood floors, inviting all to join and even offering free classes for beginners. Instructors wear the shoes of multiple ballroom styles to teach the centuries-old waltz alongside West Coast swing and merengue, a two-step dance outstripped in simplicity only by the one-step known as walking. Aerobic Zumba workouts and belly-dance classes loosen students’ hips while building muscle tone and cardio endurance. Additionally, Starry Night’s experienced dancers choreograph dances for special events such as weddings, quinceañeras, mortgage signings, and bar mitzvahs, and happily help students to prepare for landmark celebrations.
Sharron Miller has devoted her life to dance. She attended the Juilliard School and worked with the director of the Garden State Ballet. After completing her training, she danced as a soloist for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and appeared in seven Broadway shows. Sharron also taught at Renaissance Middle School for 13 years, where her dance and drama program for youth was praised by the State of New Jersey. Today, as the founder of Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, she shares the skills she acquired throughout a lifetime in the arts with students from all walks of life.
SMAPA is a not-for-profit organization that provides classes in jazz, ballet, tap, and modern dancing for students of all ages. SMAPA's skilled faculty members teach hundreds of students every year and conduct outreach to the community, engaging youth in the arts through school programs and impromptu performances in the daydreams of teenagers.
The dedicated instructors at Afro Brazilian Cultural Center of New Jersey see capoeira as more than a blend of dance and martial arts—they see it as a way of life. They train children and adults of all ages in capoeira's graceful movements through classes, therapy sessions, and afterschool programs, many of the instructors drawing from extensive training in Brazil and an understanding of Brazilian folklore and culture. But their instruction doesn’t end at capoeira—many of the Cultural Center's coaches specialize in disciplines including yoga, Zumba, salsa, and West African dance. Though many of the instructors were born and raised in New Jersey, others hail from places such as Guinea and Senegal and infuse their culture into their teaching style. The instructors hold classes at least once a week and more frequently for students preparing to dance-battle chaperones for control of the prom.