Rania Jaziri has spent her entire career pirouetting on the intersection of performing arts and fitness. Born in Tunisia, her journey as a multitalented performer began with ballet lessons at the age of 6, achieving the poise, energy, and coordination that would later prove valuable in high-school basketball and swimming. After finishing college in Germany, Rania came to Washington, D.C., where her bubbly approach to teaching dance fitness and step-kickboxing attracted a dedicated following of hoofers and clown-punching bags. To meet the growing demand for her sweat-manufacturing expertise, she founded her own fitness center, Jordin's Paradise, which has since been deemed Washington D.C.'s Best Dance Company 2011 by Washington City Paper readers.
Positive energy powers the adventurous curriculum of Jordin's Paradise, where exercisers march toward physical peaks during exhilarating, dance-infused fitness classes, such as Bikini Body Bootcamp, pole dancing, and Flash Mob Workshop. When Rania isn't helping guests get into better shape than a dodecahedron with rock-solid abs, she's focusing her efforts on local charities, such as Becky's Fund, which spreads domestic-violence awareness.
The Tennis Zone keeps players smashing aces and ripping forehand winners in style with name-brand equipment, apparel, and racquet restringing services. Stop in for a new tube of tennis balls on the way to a match, or consult the knowledgeable staff for advice on selecting a new pair of shoes or shorts capable of concealing second and third racquets. While tennis is the primary focus, the shop also caters to other racquet sports such as squash, badminton, and racquetball.
As the the Tennis Zone's network for recreational play, Smart Tennis puts tennis lovers in contact with like-minded players of similar age and ability, and then lets them set up matches at mutually agreeable times and places. Newcomers simply enter their age and skill level—recreational or advanced—into the website and then contact other users with similar court credentials. After finishing off their sets and shaking hands, the winner then logs back on to report scores and earn points that can be exchanged for prizes—which are just the icing on the cake and second to the true prizes of friendship, camaraderie, and the aroma of brand new tennis balls.
The founders of Tango Mercurio chose their non-profit's name carefully. Mercury symbolizes connection, which is what they hope to foster both between paired dancers and within their local community. The arts education organization believes that tango dancing transcends boundaries of class, ethnicity, and generation, and therefore can facilitate greater cultural understanding and social cohesion. So in addition to group and private lessons, the studio offers outreach programs and supports the all-volunteer Community Tango Orchestra.
No matter what type of class a student enrolls in, what level they are studying at, or what outreach program they're lucky enough to access, the Tango Mercurio curriculum covers core principles: body awareness, technical proficiency, expressiveness, and, of course, connection. This connection between partners is important because it is both conducive to improvisation and creative expression, and also allows for larger, collaborative expression as a community, something the founders believe is essential to the overall health and stability of societies.
When Debra Sternberg first caught sight of Tom Koerner at the Doc Scantlin dance in 1987, she was smitten by his enthusiastic jitterbug. Though the duo's subsequent amorous relationship lasted only a year, their swing-dance partnership has lasted for decades. Together, they have jitterbugged and lindy hopped into the top spots in contests that include the 1994 UK Lindy Hop Championships, the 1998 Virginia State Open, and the 2010 National Living Legends of Swing Award.
Today, Tom and Debra pass on their expertise and passion at Gottaswing, their dance school that has expanded into eight locations throughout the United States. Each week, more than 500 students lay the six- and eight-count foundations for the jitterbug and lindy hop. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes meet six nights a week at various studios and dance clubs throughout the DC area, each equipped with a dance floor where students and a woman who looks suspiciously like Amelia Earhart can let loose . Four nights a week, the school invites students to join fellow classmates at events to dance along with DJ-curated tunes and live music.
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