A renowned exhibitor of contemporary art, The Arts Center cultivates creative potential in adults and children through art classes and events that emphasize hands-on learning. Members receive discounts on arts classes—up to $25 off kids classes—an opportunity to exhibit their art at the annual members’ Fence Show, discounts at local businesses, and the right to sing in the gallery when nobody’s around. Patrons with a taste for food can enroll in courses on the culinary arts, and aspiring artists can transform stuttering line work into fluid brushstrokes via drawing and painting courses.
In the late 1970s, career educators Eileen and Raymond Huntington opened the first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, New Jersey. Their goal was to take an individualized approach to education, adjusting instructional tactics according to each student's set of needs. Their success in helping K–12 students prepare for exams and improve grades and study skills quickly spawned franchises across New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere.
Today, the certified Huntington tutoring staff uses testing and rubrics for assessing each child's skills, academic needs, and potential for growth. The teachers even note the student's behavior in different testing and academic situations to craft a methodology sensitive to each child's learning style. Teachers also adhere to the company's code of ethics, which stresses professionalism and confidentiality and encourages pupils to improve their grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.
After fighting her way back to a size four following the birth of her third child, Debi Condon earned her personal-training-and-nutrition certification and founded Evolution Fitness. Debi and her crew lead mostly female groups of all ages and fitness levels through indoor and outdoor boot camps, TRX-suspension classes and personal-training sessions. Interval routines leverage mats, free weights, and nearby playground equipment to build up endurance against fatigue and cooties. With an emphasis on supportive motivation rather than drill-sergeant tactics or endless scrimmages against fast-food mascots, trainers strive to build accountability among their students through friendships and unlimited email support.
Music industry veterans Stan Denis and Paul Benedetti, both fathers of ambitious child musicians, spent years commiserating about the dismal, calcified state of music education. Deciding to do something about it, the two founded Rock School Music, determined to mix the principles of classical pedagogy with a heavy dose of kid-directed originality. Rather than focusing on scales and hoary old etudes, their instructors encourage students to bring in music they actually enjoy listening to, helping aspiring rockers play their favorite songs and recommending technical drills that directly improve their ability to play the studied piece.
In addition to private lessons, the studio's Rock School program arranges young jammers into bands based on their skill levels, before giving them a weekend practice space and sponsoring regular rock concerts for friends and family. Rock School Music’s studio, furnished with plush leather chairs and a wood-paneled front desk, inspires visitors to pursue their musical dreams with its framed band posters and fern plants that resemble Slash.
Since 1981, Lorraine-Michaels Dance Centre's cast of passionate instructors has been helping students of all ages and abilities confidently express themselves through the art of dance. They lead these students through sashays, shimmies, and kicks with an exhaustive roster of dance and fitness classes that ranges from ballroom dancing to Hip Hop to kickboxing. During dance classes, they teach students to perform fundamental moves with confidence and musicality, covering a variety styles—including the Argentine tango, waltz, swing, and salsa—tending to bites from the dancing bug or disgruntled dance partners. They motivate students into performance shape in dance-inspired fitness classes such as Zumba, a regimen of easy-to-follow dance moves set to high-energy Latin tunes. In kickboxing sweat sessions, they inspire students to kick and punch their way toward their fitness goals, effectively toning muscles and scaring away the ghosts of gladiators past, while pole dancing classes build strength and teach students how to spin and climb.
At the Knowledge Network, experts in fields such as dance, spirituality, cooking, and writing teach a cornucopia of cultural, commercial, and life-skills classes with a flexible schedule of diverse classes held throughout the capital district. In Best Holiday Treats from Around the World on December 7 ($50 plus one nonperishable item for the Latham food bank), Chef Ric Orlando—champion of the Food Network’s Chopped—puts his signature spin on sizzling Hanukkah latkes, Kwanzaa peanut soup, the Italian feast of the seven fishes, and figgy pudding, taking holiday cooking far past the realm of microwave-cooked Peeps. Author and dream warrior Robert Moss imparts his synthesis of modern dreamwork and ancient shamanic practices in The Power of Active Dreaming on December 8 ($45), where students learn to solve problems, improve health, and spark creativity during nighttime reveries. Revisit bygone eras of hip hop with four Breakdancing classes ($45), in which students learn to spin, toprock, and perform basic floor routines under the guidance of instructor Turbeau, who has performed on MTV’s The Grind.