A sprawling mandala design covers the floor of Plaza de Anaya's main dance studio, welcoming dancers in with warmth and beauty. Amid that artistic setting, seasoned instructors teach dance styles from around the world that include belly dancing, barefoot flamenco, and anaya tribal dancing. Cultural gatherings are an important part of the school's community, which is why the studio also schedules an array of monthly events and workshops that might be dance-based or include henna tattoos that dance when you pinch them.
The first Improv comedy club had virtually nothing to do with comedy. Broadway producer Budd Friedman founded the now legendary franchise in 1963 as an intimate spot where performers could eat, drink coffee, and sing along to piano ditties after their shows. Soon after, the club's first comedian, Dave Astor, tried out some new material on a whim. The stand-up set was a hit and led to the venue's eventual transformation into a full-blown comedy club. New York's hottest comedians would do nearly anything to be featured on the Improv stage; for instance, it's rumored that Lily Tomlin hijacked a parked limousine in order to make a stunning entrance when first meeting Budd.
Since 1988, Tempe Improv has lived up to the lofty reputation of its parent club by showcasing comedic heavyweights such as Kevin Nealon, Carlos Mencia, and Pablo Francisco. A diverse calendar draws instantly recognizable comics from the airwaves of the E! channel and Comedy Central, but it also opens up the stage to promising up-and-comers. A menu of bar food and drinks ensures audiences stay fueled and ready to laugh throughout the evening.
The bar at Public House was discovered in a hayshed in 2009. How it got there, though, involves a history lesson that takes the listener back to Dublin in 1916. It’s a wild story, too, complete with raids, the military, and gun fights that ended with a dead British intelligence agent and a cracked mirror. Although the bar’s been mostly restored, the crack on the back mirror remains. The bartenders at Public House might be kind enough to fill in the rest of the details over a pint of Guinness and some bangers and mash. Even if you don't get around to hearing the rest of that enthralling tale, though, there’s plenty of pub food, Irish whiskey, beer, and to make you feel like you’re practically in Dublin.
Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.