Improve Yourself: Take Center Stage

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
From left, Chip Meyers, Jane Piirto and Mikey Thomas play ukulele.

Dressed to Thrill

Burlesque class, Columbus Dance Centre, 1000 Morrison Road, Ste. B, Gahanna, $85,

The word “burlesque” conjures images of feather boas, high heels and elbow-length gloves. And while all those things are present at Columbus Dance Centre’s burlesque class, Kim Emig says there’s more to it. “It’s about learning how to get comfortable with your body,” says the theater staffer. The eight-week course is offered twice a year, and the next session starts Jan. 9. Each week, students are introduced to a different aspect of burlesque, including walking in heels and learning what to do with the aforementioned feather boa. For the final session, students invite family and friends to watch the class perform what they’ve learned. Emig says attendees often have no idea what to expect, but they quickly warm up to burlesque. “I just hear them giggling the whole time,” she says.

Dance the Night Away

Dance classes, Flux + Flow, 200 E. Crestview Road, Clintonville, $16 for drop-ins, monthly passes are available,

Wednesday nights are hopping at Flux + Flow, the Clintonville dance and movement center created by professional dancers Russell Lepley and Filippo Pelacchi. “Our most consistently popular class is ballet,” Lepley says of the ongoing, eight-week series Absolute Beginner Ballet–Open Series. “Our approach is to make it accessible to all ages and bodies. We don’t force people into extreme positions.” The 75-minute class attracts ballet lovers and beginners of all ages, mostly women, but some men. The Wednesday night Dance Karaoke class is a new form of dance invented by Lepley and Pelacchi, who may want to trademark their popular creation. “For each class, we pick a cheesy song and put a dance move to every word, a nontechnical move,” Lepley says. Toward the end of the 75-minute class, everyone knows, or mostly knows, all the moves. “It’s silly and fun,” Lepley says.

Up in the Air

Aerial dance, Infinity Aerial, 9032 Cotter St., Lewis Center, $72–$195,

Infinity Aerial offers four basic skill sets—hoop, pole, silks (two separate pieces of heavy cloth) and hammock (one cloth connected at both ends). It might be a while before you’re ready for your Cirque tryout, but owner Valerie Schrader says students tend to come to Infinity for more humble reasons. Most, she says, have decided they don’t feel comfortable in traditional gyms but want to be active and do something fun that they’re going to stick with. She says it’s also common for female students in particular to join in response to issues in their personal lives and are in need of something “to remember who they were.” No matter your reason for signing up, you may need more than just one class to learn the skill. Schrader says just becoming comfortable with the apparatus and how your body works is step one. The studio also does a handful of open-to-the-public recitals each year, so participants can scratch their performance itch as well.

Ukulele Jam

Ukulele lessons, Strings Attached, 400 West Rich, Franklinton, $5,

The ukulele is the gateway stringed instrument. It’s cute, affordable, unthreatening and, with just four strings, easy to learn. That’s the reasoning behind Strings Attached, which hosts monthly ukulele gatherings at 400 West Rich in Franklinton. “People can show up with absolutely no experience and leave the class having learned something and played along with other people,” says founder Scott Lloyd DeWitt. He started the monthly ukulele jams to help people like himself reconnect with music, as well as offer an accessible opportunity for those who regret never picking up an instrument. DeWitt says after an hour or so of learning the basics of the ukulele, new students find themselves strumming along to songs by Fleetwood Mac, Culture Club, The Supremes and more. You also don’t have to bring your own ukulele. DeWitt has several he loans out to new students.

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Go with the Flow

Improv classes, The Nest Theatre, 894 W. Broad St., Franklinton, $185 for levels 1–4, pricing for electives varies,

Tara DeFrancisco thinks the world would be a happier place if everyone took an improv class. “Improv teaches the tenets of presence, joy, play, listening and connection in order to make the art and comedy part thrive,” says the co-owner of The Nest Theatre. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, a seasoned performer or someone who “shyly whispers hilarious things under their breath at dinner parties,” DeFrancisco says The Nest has a class for everyone. Levels 1, 2, 3 and 4—all are six weeks—make up the core curriculum and are consistently offered throughout the year. Students can also choose from a variety of electives, everything from Improv for Couples (offered twice a year) to Writing for Late Night (offered annually).

Learn to Play (No Matter Your Age)

Music lessons, Musicologie, multiple locations, $138 per month (weekly, half-hour lessons),

You’re cleaning out a closet, and there it is again—grandma’s violin or the trumpet you haven’t touched since middle school or the guitar your parents bought you back when you had visions of going on tour. When you decide the time is right to do something with it, Musicologie can help. Kay Barker was teaching piano and voice lessons out of her home when she and her husband, Joseph, decided to open the studio, where he also teaches guitar and drums. A staff of instructors offers lessons in most instruments, from piano, guitar and drums to strings, woodwinds, brass and voice lessons. Joseph says adult students come with varying goals, from joining a band to simply becoming “a well-rounded musical human,” and that lessons are tailored accordingly.

For Those About to Rock

Adult program, School of Rock, 6727 Dublin Center Drive, Dublin, 5225 N. Hamilton Road, Gahanna, $175–$245 per month,

If you once dreamed of rocking out in a band but never made it out of your parents’ garage, School of Rock wants to make your long-forgotten musical dreams come true. (And you thought it was just a movie starring Jack Black.) With two locations in Central Ohio, the school offers private lessons in guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and singing. Once a week, students rehearse songs from The Allman Brothers, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin and more as a full band. Every three months or so, the band takes its show on the road and performs at local establishments. Want to see what it’s all about before you sign up? School of Rock Dublin’s next show is Feb. 23 at The Lazy Chameleon in Powell.


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Read the Improve Yourself series