The Topeka Symphony Orchestra heralds its 66th year of performances, as well as the final season for conductor and music director Dr. John Strickler, with its upcoming 2011–2012 season. On opening night, "Czech Mates" tasks the professional soundsmiths with transmuting the pages of Dvorak's Symphony no. 6 and Tchaikovsky's violin concerto into an aural spectacle. Ivan Zenaty, an experienced maestro who currently resides in Dresden, leads the concerto's melodic charge and waves his baton with fingers nimble enough to play cat's cradle one-handed. "The 5th!" unfurls an ear-tickling soundscape that includes Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, as well as Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Rainbow Body by Theofanidis. White Concert Hall sports more than 1,000 seats, allowing patrons ample room to indulge in the orchestra's acoustic delights or privately conduct their own shadow-puppet rendition of Amadeus.
Inspired by the underground jazz and improv piano clubs of the 1940s and 50s, The Barrel House swings its showgoers' spirits skyward with an array of piano-pounding talent. Each keyboard combatant can duel through a repertoire of hits that numbers in the hundreds, from The Beatles to Beyonce. Its VIP rooms offer premium views of the heated harmonics and vary in size, amenities, and vocal scatting propensities. The Blue Moon Lounge and Crown Royal house up to 50 tune-loving patrons, feature private bars and bartenders and three 46" TVs a piece (a $300 value each); the Jägermiester Lounge (a $250 value) and Boulevard (a $200 value) can host up to 20 patrons, sporting speak-easy styling, private servers, and a proximity to the stage that ensures requests won't go unheard. Like a vaudevillian tobogganing down sand dunes in a suit, The Barrel House calls to mind the carefree, classy clubs of yesteryear: it's 5,000 foot playing space features rich crimson and tan walls, replete with old wood barrels and stools, making it ideal for relaxing with friends or watching said friends jitterbug joyously.
The illustrious instructors at Dance Gallery shepherd students of all skills levels through a variety of popular dance styles and techniques. Many of the professional teachers boast backgrounds performing in the Joffrey Ballet, musical theater, and jobs as human tops. Across the flexible summer schedule, students can receive guided gyration instruction in their choice of ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, aerobics, or tumbling and acrobatics. Though the majority of classes are for children, the studio schedules some adult night sessions in ballet, tap, aerobics, and jazz.
Dazzlers’s three-day summer dance camps busy the limbs of grade school girls in a 6,000-square-foot fully mirrored dance studio. At Fairy Tale Camp, each day’s activities revolve around a different fair maiden, including Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Ariel, the mermaid princess from The Little Mermaid, and lesser-known royal Chaka Khan. Upcoming kindergarteners through prospective third graders assemble crafts, listen to music, nibble on complimentary snacks, and learn dance styles inspired by each character. Little ones can dress up as their favorite princesses or notable feminists to celebrate their last day of camp with a Mad Hatter’s tea party.