Having blossomed into a professional theater company, Theatre Horizon provides opportunities to aspiring directors, actors, producers, and designers during a schedule of year-round productions, including seasonal shows that celebrate the spirit of the holidays. This December, the company provides an escape from blustery winds and pickpocketing snowmen with Voices of Christmas, which spotlights the works of song-crafting legends such as John Lennon, Patty Griffin, Ingrid Michaelson, and others. During each performance, some of Philadelphia's top talents assemble inside the intimate theater to tickle ears with musical nostalgia more comforting than a hug from a giant squid. As an added bonus, the December 11 show includes a post-performance Q & A session, affording guests the chance to stay and chat with the cast and creative team.
If there is a major dance competition out there, Scott Lazarov has probably placed in it. Along with gracing the cover of Philadelphia Magazine and performing at the Academy of Music, the founder of DanceSport Academy has won four US and World Pro-Am championships and was named champion of US Salsa, Rising Star, and Grand National championships. At DanceSport, Scott and his fellow instructors teach dance as both a social outlet and a competitive art form, and break down complicated styles into simple steps. Private and group classes teach a foundation of balance, posture, and timing that can then be mapped onto styles as varied as mambo, swing, merengue, or the Viennese waltz. Serious students can also gear up for competitions through a comprehensive training approach that addresses choreography, costuming, and production of the oversized foam fingers given out to the judges.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise 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 1930s 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 Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. 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.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing with the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn up to 500 calories with each go-round.
Seven days a week, First Position Dance Arts offers a swan lake's worth of dance classes for both adults and children. Under the tutelage of the studio's graceful guides, students will take on the fearsome foes of rhythm, balance, and poise through a well-coordinated attack of box steps, chasses, and pops/locks. Adult class options include ballet, modern/jazz, hip-hop, choreography, and even a dance history and culture class (click here to read descriptions). This year, First Position Dance Arts is also offering Zumba aerobics courses, which forge fitness through music based on salsa, merengue, calypso, and other styles.