Warner Theatre serves as profound evidence that grassroots efforts can make a difference in the arts. Opened by Warner Brothers Studios in 1931, the Thomas Lamb?designed cinema house served for more than 20 years as the area's top venue to gawk at the silver screen. Yet business declined with the rise of the television, and in 1955 a flood left the venue severely damaged. It was hardly a surprise, then, when the Warner faced foreclosure in 1981. But a non-profit, citizen-run group called the Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts raised the $275,000 needed to rescue the theatre, and repaired the years' damages to the art-deco design. Today, more than 800 volunteer actors, musicians, designers, and crew members bask in the applause and gleefully thrown lorgnettes of an estimated 35,000-plus patrons each season.
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.
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 off up to 600 calories with each go-round.
A performance-dance school established in 2006, Velocity Dance Works educates students ranging from toddler through adult on the style of more than 20 different dances. The school's seasoned instructors maintain an energized, encouragement-packed environment that caters to both serious students looking to develop their technique as well as casual students in search of a new hobby that exercises both the body and the mind.
Brass City Ballet's classes translate emotions into movement. The dance classes take all forms including graceful ballet for students of all ages, energetic modern and jazz, and teen and adult yoga to get bodies and minds balanced. Dance Discovery classes teach kids aged 3–5 how to move to music and Booiaka card dance fitness helps build up a sweat and work off excess weight.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.