The accomplished and experienced strutting instructors at Ladera Ranch Dance Academy, a family owned studio, train toddlers, tweens, and teens in the art and discipline of dance. Boogie beginners as young as 2 can establish a solid dance foundation and a lifelong affinity for sequins with the academy’s array of classes divvied up by age, experience, and type.
MVDPAC has strutted its way to the top of numerous competitions, including first place in the 2009 CityVoter OC Hotlist for best dance studio. Under the limber guidance of decorated instructors, both novice and seasoned can shakers choose from the list of one-hour daily drop-in classes, where twinkle-toes light up floors with sparks rivaled only by Christmas trees that have fallen in the fireplace. Once inside the spacious studio, bodies bound across seven sprawling rooms and a studio theater. Students can elongate into states of grace through a selection of ballet courses, animate their legs and develop rhythm in the hip-hop courses, or practice freeform toe tapping and scatting the Greek alphabet through the jazz classes.
At the age of 5, Natalie Costa’s daughter was cute, lively, and photogenic—reason enough to give show business a try, she thought. But with no one to guide her and her daughter through the maze of booking auditions and getting representation, she found herself out thousands of dollars on useless portfolio shoots and manager fees. In response, Costa founded The Performers Academy, modeling the friendly, welcoming atmosphere on the dancing school she loved as a child. She made sure to stock it with instructors who had the inside knowledge she could have used at the outset: all professional actors, directors, and producers with lots of experience in film and TV and a special focus on children’s programming.
The academy caters both to kids seriously trying to break into the business and to casual enthusiasts who find performing a liberating way to build self-confidence. Age-appropriate classes deal with such key topics as managing audition stress, honing improvisational comedy skills, and projecting loud enough to be heard over that giant gong that somebody keeps bumping into.
The adage that "there are no small parts, just small actors" rings truest at The Center Stage Studio, where budding thespians of all ages get their share of the spotlight. Under the experienced wand of director Tracey DiMiceli, a seasoned performer and theater instructor who also helmed Malibu's prestigious "Fitness by the Sea" summer camp, young actors develop the skills to sing, dance, and deliver heartfelt Tony Award acceptance speeches in a wealth of classes and camps.
In the family-tailored musical theater camps, which feature themes reflecting popular musicals and children's shows, lil' thespians learn the fundamentals of theater technique—including blocking, projecting, and stage direction—and cultivate skills that boost self-esteem and critical thinking. Camps end with a public performance where every child gets a spot in a major musical number and receives a speaking role, curbing the theatrical tradition of jealous prepubescent understudies.
UltraStar Cinemas cossets moviegoers in cushy seating as they enjoy Hollywood hits alongside buttery servings of popcorn. Film buffs can peruse the current showtimes by location to handpick an action-packed flick, romantic comedy, or chilling thriller featuring inexplicably aggressive hamsters. The concession stand outfits moviegoers with snacks, drinks, and buckets filled with warm kernels, keeping stomach grumblings to a minimum during showings and providing crunchy projectiles in case of sudden younger-sibling attacks. UltraStar Play it Again Cinemas also offers a selection of Hollywood hits for patrons to enjoy in high-back reclining chairs alongside snacks from the concession stand.
Presented with 600 acres of verdant pasture to sculpt into an executive course, golf-course architect David Rainville dreamt up 18 Bermuda grass fairways adorned with colorful flowerbeds, four ponds strewn into play, and sand bunkers of various sizes and difficulties. In the three decades since Rainville’s vision became reality, the course’s trees have flourished on all of the eight par 4s and 10 par 3s. The well-manicured course has been ranked in the top 10 courses in San Diego, inviting golfers of all stripes to experience the verdant playground and perhaps occasional sightings of caddies that graze on the short grass. While swinging through the course, men and women are asked to wear collared shirts, protecting them from neck sunburns, informality, and vampire flagsticks.
Course at a Glance: