Darlene Casanova, owner of Imagination Place, believes that music holds the power to strengthen familial and community-based relationships. Drawing from her extensive training and careers in the performing arts, she now strives to nurture family bonds and child development via music and movement classes. Along with a team of certified teachers and music instructors, she leads a harmonious selection of internationally recognized programs open to adults, children, and operatic family dogs. In Music Together, an early-childhood series in which caregivers join their tots in song and movement, children choose from a basket brimming with instruments and Baroque-style wigs to identify their individual musical styles. Teachers spark early creativity with yoga, art, and theater in the Imagination Workshop, and motivate youngsters to explore music theory in Musical Bridge.
When she’s not crooning with kiddies, Darlene teaches AntiGravity yoga. Suspended from an AntiGravity hammock—a soft, pliable fabric used to enhance stretches—she guides pupils through an aerial series of movements that meld techniques from dance, Pilates, calisthenics, and classic yoga.
In addition to her wide range of family classes, Imagination Place hosts music- and art-filled birthday extravaganzas. During the warmer months, an assortment of summer-camp programs fills the studio with creative children eager to escape the stresses of babysitting their parents.
Academy West gives restless young Utahns a chance to expend excess energy in the form of choreographed dance, tumbling, cheer, or gymnastics classes. The adroit staff of CPR-certified safety gurus is composed of deft dancers and top-notch tumblers who teach thrilling routines to children craving more choreography in their lives. The 22,000-square-foot facility is packed with high-quality equipment and enough protective foam to swaddle a Herculean toddler attempting a triple aerial in place of his or her first steps.
The instructors of French Kiss Fitness model their group classes after the acts of performers such as Pink, the pop star who thrilled audiences at the 2010 Grammys with a dance routine derived from circus acrobatics. Like a dark room plastered with Lou Ferrigno posters, the studio's workout style both develops and shows off muscle. Fourteen poles support physiques as they execute moves that build core strength; off the pole, students learn floor- or chair-based routines to replicate at home. Aerial classes build center strength with the help of silk ropes, dangling hoops, and a trapeze. For more traditional workouts, students can attend core-strengthening Pilates classes or yoga classes to relax the mind and body.
The safety-certified coaches at Olympus Gymnastics have taught talented tumblers that have gone on to participate every year in the Junior National Olympics and Utah State Championships. Students ages 3 to 15 years can pick from a schedule of floor-tumbling classes, dropping into the facility once a week to increase their physical dexterity, hone their mental determination, and develop their vocabulary for pommel-horse whispering. Coaches teach tots the basics during classes, and leaping adolescents limber up their bodies in tiered levels and earn their way toward airborne flight, vaulted exploration, and bar-gripping acrobatics. The experienced staff evoke a positive and encouraging atmosphere, in which every child receives individual attention, support, and an opportunity to take an honest bow that wasn't earned by being the first to throw pudding across the school cafeteria.
A group of musicians step onto a parade trailer and man their requisite noisemakers—guitars, bass, and drums. Only months ago, they may have never even picked up an instrument, much less thought they'd be part of a band playing a live gig. But now, their nimble fingers deftly play live covers of The Beatles, AC/DC, and Maroon 5, which pump from speakers as the movable stage winds through Lehi's streets.
The university-trained instructors of Utah School of Music & Dance organize music and dance recitals like these each year, helping students of all ages and abilities to share their burgeoning expertise. Profiled by the Utah Valley Business Blog, the school encompasses both private and group training studios where tutors such as guitarist Scott Miller—author of Mel Bay's Getting Into Jazz Fusion Guitar—help emerging Mozarts as young as 3 to master woodwinds, percussion, or the art of destroying a guitar amplifier. During dance classes, expressive movers practice hip-hop, jazz, or ballet moves atop a supportive floating floor, lingering afterward in a waiting room decked out with complimentary movies and WiFi.