A bloody slaughterhouse. A strobe-lit maze patrolled by clowns. A zombie-infested bog. A room full of overdue utility bills. These are the most terrifying scenes humans can imagine, and many of them confront visitors to Screamworld, an attraction that stretches the haunted house experience across five uniquely spooky settings. Here, animatronic scares and disorienting lights lie in wait for groups, as do costumed actors seeking the perfect opportunity to spring from their hiding spots. Screamworld's performers don't shy away from offering an intense, frightening experience, and though the shrieks are all in good fun, the experience isn't recommended for children.
Inspiring those thrills and chills is practically an art form for Jim Fetterly, the mastermind behind Screamworld. Fetterly has designed annual haunted houses since 1989, so he and his team pride themselves on their ability to leave visitors with racing pulses, sweaty palms, and thoroughly spiked adrenaline levels. And their dedication has not gone unnoticed?America's Best Haunts continues to select Screamworld as one of the top haunted attractions in the country, while the Houston Chronicle hailed it as "Houston's longest-running and arguably best haunted house."
. During 45-minute Kindermusik classes, tots stimulate their minds, bodies, and sense of play with diverse activities based on research demonstrating music's beneficial effect on childhood development. As pintsize hands bang out tunes on provided instruments, brains busy themselves with forming the connections necessary for multiple forms of intelligence, including spatial reasoning, interpersonal skills, and the ability to tell a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo from the synthesized parrot squawks on a Jimmy Buffet album.
The academy's roster of instructors dispenses private education on diverse instrumentation during 30-minute, one-on-one music lessons. Euphonic apprentices can open up their epiglottises in voice lessons, strum away on guitar, or prepare to marshal their army of G.I. Joes by beating some drum skins. Lessons are also available on the piano, as well as band and orchestral instruments. All students except drum and piano pupils must supply their own instruments for use during lessons, where they will learn a curriculum geared to their individual goals and interests. An extensive library of method books imparts the techniques to tackle any style of music and teaches students to read music, so that they're able to interpret the plotline of Mozart's romance novels.
When Dancing With the Stars' contestants Emmitt Smith, Mark Cuban, Michael Irvin, and Jake Pavelka needed a place to sharpen their rug-cutting capabilities, Cheryl Burke told them to look no further than Studio 22. Studio 22's talented instructors even performed on Dancing With the Stars in October of 2012. Founded by internationally ranked Latin dancing couple Sergey Korshunov and Michelle Hafle, the studio lassos a stable of instructors handpicked from the highest levels of professional competition. Their group classes and private lessons give beginners and seasoned dancers alike the opportunity to polish their performance in styles as diverse as Argentine tango, salsa, ballroom, swing, and country and western.
The 6,200-square-foot studio accommodates classes of every size with its rich wooden floors, wall-length mirrors, and plush leather seating with which to rest feet between exercises and build forts whenever the instructor leaves the room. Studio 22 also hosts weekly dance parties that give students a chance to take new partners for a twirl in convivial, BYOB soirées.
Although Stewart Yaros has performed with numerous elite companies, including the Boston Ballet and the Basel Ballet in Switzerland, his true passion is teaching dance. Teaching allowed the University of Massachusetts and Martha Mahr School of Ballet alumnus to combine his finely honed dance expertise and his zeal for communicating with others via the "common language" of dance in particular and the arts in general.
That theme of unity and togetherness dates back to the early days of Dance International, circa 1991, when the now bustling center for dance tutoring consisted of three students, their devoted teacher, and an old player piano that played Chopsticks. Today, the organization has swelled into a hub for upbeat, accessible instruction from professional-level teachers and is well-known for organizing the Austin Ballroom Festival.
Part of the guiding vision for Dance International is a focus on community service, as well as promoting the arts by introducing music and visual forms into the dance milieu. True to its multidisciplinary ambitions, the Dance International empire recently achieved 501(c)3 national nonprofit status and will soon add art and music classes.
Arthur Murray Dance Studios has been a leading name in ballroom dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with certified instructors, and the instructors will assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Shundo Dance Studio's crackerjack rug cutters, celebrating more than 25 years teaching choreographed struts, transform pairs of left feet into Astaire-esque hooves of rhythm and grace during group lessons. The Foxtrot, Rumba, and Waltz sessions invoke a simpler time when men wore hats and women hunted wooly mammoths, and the Swing class allows for more modern and flashier moves, such as the Lindy Hop and Charleston. Or add a little Latin flair to evenings by learning how to hip swivel through Salsa, Cha Cha, Samba, and Bachata gambols. Class sizes average between 15 and 20 humans to ensure that everyone gets the personal attention they need while providing enough of a crowd to hide missteps and spasmodic break dances.