After four years of tending to the bees on his family's farm, Gerald Côté decided to turn his lifelong passion for dance into a career. He began trotting across the globe—from Nashville, Tennessee, to Stockholm, Sweden—to participate in dance competitions, and he attained his first UCWDC world title in 2006. That same year, Gerald combined his impressive dance resumé with his business administration degree and opened a freelance dance-instruction company called DancEnergy. After a successful first few years of offering on-site lessons and winning impromptu dance-offs, Gerald renovated a massive 8,200-square-foot warehouse into the company's official studio.
Since converting the warehouse in 2009, Gerald has assembled a talented team of dance instructors who specialize in salsa, ballroom, Latin, swing, and country. Students of all skill levels may sign up for 6- or 12-week group classes or just come by on a whim for Friday-night drop-in classes and practice parties.
DancEnergy's studio houses three separate ballrooms to accommodate multiple classes at once, as well as changing rooms where pupils can garb themselves with required non-rubber shoes and optional sequined gloves.
For an organization centered on musicians younger than 17, Allegiance Institute of Music has an impressive resumé. While regularly collecting trophies in competitions all over the continent, the school's musicians have racked up honours including performing every night of the 1988 Olympic medal ceremonies and the earning Official Band status from the Calgary Stampeders Football Club. Each singer or band member got there by following the rigorous Kodály method. In introductory programs, the youngest children start out by playing musical games and dancing, which helps internalize basic musical structures. At the next level, they gear up for performing on a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument, or prepare for more advanced vocal study. After that, students who feel ready for performance may enroll in higher-level courses. In all classes, teachers insist that kids master music on their own terms rather than be thrust too soon into performance and risk being unable to differentiate between a quickened tempo and a conductor-antagonizing bee.
Perhaps the only thing more impressive than defying the laws of physics is teaching someone else to do it, too. That's just what happens at Lesi's Kitchen during Topsy-Turvy Cake Class, when cake artist Lesi demonstrates how to construct a quirky cake with tiers that look deceptively hard to build and balance.
Topsy-Turvy is one of Lesi's more advanced classes. Armed with these niche skills, some of her graduates have even gone on to begin their own businesses. However, Lesi gladly takes beginners under her wing, too. She leads courses on all the basics: cake baking, decorating, fondant sculpting, and piping. She can even show students how to shape butterflies out of gelatin, although she still can't prevent the finished decorations from migrating south every winter. All of her classes allow students to take their edible masterpieces home or, in the case of her interactive birthday party sessions, directly to the guest of honour's doorstep.
Founded in 1994 by former commercial airline pilot Paul Sass, The Home Vintner supplies connoisseurs and novices with an abundance of award-winning pours and do-it-yourself kits for individual winemaking and beer brewing. With Winexpert kits, at-home vino makers blend varietal juices from around the world that will be ready to drink or cellar in 4–8 weeks, depending on the kit. Alternatively, brewers dive into barley bubbles with Barons beer kits that contain measured ingredients to make a hoppy Canadian blond ale, an English-style redwood ale, and a crisp Dutch-style lager, among others.
During classes, the staff of certified wine- and beer-makers walks pupils through each step of the brewing and vintning process, such as carbon-dioxide removal, corking, storage, and determining each libation's year by monitoring its reaction to different Bon Jovi songs. Courses dispense both basics of production and new methodologies, so apprentices can discover new approaches and skills to try with their next batches.
Giovanni Varano, the face behind Chef Gio, can transport food lovers to Italy—both literally and figuratively. In addition to preparing authentic Italian dishes during dinner parties or in-home cooking lessons, Varano organizes extensive culinary tours of Europe. Edmonton Journal blogger Liane Faulder describes a tour of Italy that includes visits to a prosciutto manufacturer, a dairy farm producing parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and a balsamic-vinegar winery in Modena. Having been born and raised in Italy, the self-taught chef—who is also the executive director of the Calgary-based Foreign Trade Development Agency—has an insider's perspective on the ingredients and techniques that foodies crave. Chef Varano teaches home cooks to bake focaccia bread and craft traditional gnocchi, or slice beef carpaccio that's thin enough to be used as sunglass lenses.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln workers help glaze, fire, and de-genie it for them, and they may retrieve the finished piece after a few days.