At Lauridsen Ballet Centre, the well-timed tinkling of piano keys accompanies each leap and plié. Live musical accompaniment is just one of the ways in which the school's professional instructors, led by artistic director Diane Lauridsen, preserve the classical traditions of their art. They maintain a careful balance between encouraging attitudes and rigorous lessons, cultivating physical poise at the same time as mental focus.
Classes for ages three and up accommodate all skill levels, from beginner to pre-professional, and performances through the non-profit South Bay Ballet company showcase students' skills. Though they consider much of their choreography timeless, the staff does not neglect advances in the science of dance—they incorporate current discoveries in the fields of anatomy and movement to enhance both children's and adult classes. Their summer camp intensive also helps attendees to achieve new levels of grace and balance.
At The Bea Hive Dance Studio, shoes hit 6,000 square feet of floating dance floor in the cadences of swing, ballroom, hip-hop, salsa, and other groovy disciplines. The beats rarely stop inside the venue's three rooms—they host lessons and competitive training in addition to weekend dance parties, where students can both socialize and practice their steps. Just as it embraces a wide variety of styles, the studio teaches dance for all purposes. Private classes steer couples through wedding sashays, and ballet and tap classes for toddlers prompt parents to look forward to future stomping tantrums.
Regardless of the reason behind the rhythm, guests can rest assured that each rug-cutting venture is overseen by a seasoned instructor. Some of the staff's accomplishments include performing for Nelson Mandela and nabbing third place in the team division of the World Latin Dance Cup. Their accolades have not prompted an exclusive attitude, however; they accept pupils of any age and experience level.
Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.
A Broadway-style extravaganza set aboard a replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon, Pirate's Dinner Adventure is one of the only theater performances to require a 250,000-gallon water tank outside of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Manatees. While the dastardly Captain Sebastian the Black lords over his feasting crew of rapscallions, guests get to dine from the deck of one of the six ships surrounding the galleon?and cheer on the plucky pirate representing their vessel in the show. What unfolds is a swashbuckling spectacle of stunts, songs, magic, and acrobatics punctuated with as many fired cannons as belly laughs. Pirates dangle precariously from silk off the 40-foot mast. Treasure chests overflow with booty. Heroes rise from the ranks?and select members of the audience might even be invited by Captain Sebastian to come aboard the stage.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Chance Theater's mission to encourage meaningful dialogues and discussion through provocative theater pieces continues this season. The 2011 Mainstage Series includes an impressive repertoire of spirited plays and musicals. The season kicks off in January with the West Coast premiere of Nerve, an edgy romantic comedy about modern day dating. Next on the docket is The Boy in the Bathroom, a moving musical about a man who finds safety and comfort in a commode. Jerry Springer: The Opera, inspired by the irreverent television talk show, premiers in July, while Up, a play about an altitudinally ambitious American family, closes the curtain in October.