For the students of To The Pointe Performing Arts, no dance step is just a dance step. Because the school follows a holistic approach to learning dance, every step comes with a bounty of knowledge—its place in the style, its cultural origin, the muscle movements it requires, and the discipline required to master it. Whether they're 6-year-olds encountering their first tap shoes or high-school students refining their skills in Russian ballet technique, the team of experienced dance instructors make it their business to forge not only great dancers but educated citizens of the world. In addition to youth classes, the studio also offers DanceFit and tap classes for adult students.
Since 1960, the nonprofit Sunset Playhouse has grown and flourished alongside the community who helped build it, paying them dividends in lively musicals and family-friendly classics. In Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss, Rita and Peter’s seemingly perfect wedding takes a turn as unexpected as the end of Titanic, when a mysterious old man interrupts the celebration to request a kiss from the bride. The gesture causes their souls to trade places, leaving Peter to unknowingly take a total stranger on a honeymoon. As the groom realizes his error, he seeks out his beloved, who is now trapped in an aged body, forcing the couple to navigate through unexpected challenges involving commitment, physical appearance, and arguments over how much to tip at Denny's.
Lizz Wright is a gospel-trained contralto, born in Georgia and now based in New York. As Stephen Holden of the New York Times articulates, "Her voice, luminous and smoky and perfectly pitched, is one of the most wondrous rhythm-and-blues instruments of our time." Lizz wrote the majority of her latest album, Orchard and, like her other releases, it's as smooth and mysterious as butter melting over butter. Equally as impressive are her interpretations of classics including Patsy Cline's "Strange," Ike and Tina Turner's "I Idolize You," and Led Zeppelin's Korean Conflict protest ballad, "Thank You." Mitchell Park, which allows Lizz Wright's sultry vocalizations to float to lawn-lounging ears unimpeded, also features sustenance options from Haute Taco, North Star American Bistro, Loaf & Jug, and Bella Caffe.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Madison's experiential comedy show takes place at the eastside Glass Nickel Pizza Company on Atwood Avenue and begins at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.). The Monkey Business Institute features no sets, props, or scripts, which allows the hilarious ensemble to craft improv hilarity off the spur of their cufflinks. With decades of improvisational cosmonaut experience and interactive audience participation, each show is distinct and spontaneous. This simian comedy collective features improvisers such as Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda, who have received more than 70 million YouTube hits for viral video sensations such as "Chad Vader." Keep a third eye peeled for other local favorites Brad Knight, Jason Stephens, Sheila Robertson, and more.
Budding artists of all ages can begin to imprint their creative legacies in two-hour printmaking workshops that consist of stamp-making and hands-on card-making with cards on colored paper stocks. Professional artist Aliza Rand draws on more than 10 years of teaching experience to guide small groups of students through the creative process, demonstrating how to whittle stamps with finesse and strap them securely to feet before using monkey bars to cross gooey fields of ink. Holiday-themed workshops spread the season’s cheer with step-by-step instructions for fashioning festive Christmas cards or stamps in the shapes of fir trees to remind Santa of home during his circumnavigational blimp ride.