By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
BEST EASTSIDE ART, DANCE AND WRITING CLASSES
Annual tuition at Juilliard: $30,500. Annual tuition at California Institute of the Arts: $34,830. Winter semester of conservatory training at Plaza de la Raza: $25 per course. Now in its 39th year of educating aspiring artists, the Community Arts Partnership remains one of the best buys in arts education. Professors and students from California Institute of the Arts intensive, conservatory-style training in fine art, photography, printmaking, graphic design, digital media, animation, video, chamber music, jazz, world music, chamber music, theater, puppetry, dance and creative writing. In the Young Playwrights Project, an instructor leads a 10-week playwriting project for young people. Students create original plays, which are presented in stage readings and at an annual show. The Modern Dance Program includes 18 weekly courses, led by Francesca Penzani of the CalArts dance faculty. Students create original pieces, as well as collaborate with classmates. The Community Arts Partnership boasts a 4:1 student-teacher ratio, giving students an unusual degree of personal attention. Students must be between the ages of 10 and 18 to apply. 3540 N. Mission Rd., L.A. (323) 223-2475, plazadelaraza.org. For a class list, go to calarts.edu.
BEST PLACE TO SCULPT YOUR ASS, SILVER LAKE–STYLE
With their hourlong fusion of ballet barre, Pilates, stretching, light weights and core strengthening exercises, Pop Physique is sculpting Silver Lake into one seriously sexy populace. With short sets performed to (or, in some cases, wheezed through) bumpin’ pop beats, the exercises are designed to tone and sculpt every major muscle group in the body. The Pop Physique experience makes creative use of an exciting array of props, including eco-friendly mats, cloth straps, rubber balls and hand weights. The uniform: Silver Lake who gives a shit? dress-down drab, plus ankle socks with tread on the bottom. Instructors share dance backgrounds and sunny dispositions, and cheer their students on through set after set of excruciating exercises with gusto and enthusiasm. They’re superattentive, remember their students’ names, and circle the room, offering corrections and adjustments, and ensuring everyone gets the most out of every agonizing exercise. Classes are offered all day, every day and there is an introductory special: $100 a month for unlimited classes. In other words, no excuses. 3501 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A. (323) 665-7777.
BEST SPLASH FOR YOUR BUCK
It’s an insult to Angelenos to spend one of our 300 annual sunny days swimming circles in an overchlorinated room. For year-round outdoor flip turns, you can’t beat the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center’s Olympic-quality complex in Pasadena, but you might get your Speedo in a bunch when you have to shell out the $10 per visit. Serious lap swimmers vouch for the Culver City Municipal Plunge: $4 gets you 50-meter lanes plus squeaky-clean locker rooms. Of course, if you prefer pure liquid relief over a workout, you can negotiate the reservation system at the Annenberg Community Beach House with a $24 family pass (two kids, two adults). But we recommend paddling out to Hansen Dam Swim Lake for the best gallons-per-dollar ratio: 1.5 square miles of open aquamarine water, just 25 miles north of downtown, for only $2.50. And there’s a water slide. Culver City Municipal Plunge, 4175 Overland Ave., Culver City. (310) 253-6680, culvercity.org. Hansen Dam Swim Lake, 11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace. (818) 899-3779, laparks.org/dos/aquatic/hansen.htm.
BEST QUICK FIX FOR L.A. CLIMBERS
Okay, so you won’t mistake Stoney Point for Yosemite, but this jumble of sandstone formations off Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Chatsworth offers a quick fix of real rock for the climber or boulderer who wants to avoid the dank, chalky hell of the typical climbing gym. Look past the graffiti, broken glass and pissed-off bees, embrace the crag’s rich history (Royal Robbins, Yvon Chouinard, John Bachar, and other climbing legends cut their teeth here), and enjoy the huge variety of boulder problems and top-rope routes. Pick up a copy of Chris Owen’s Urban Rock guidebook and find your fun. The routes range from dead-easy (VB and 5.4) to desperately hard (V10 and 5.13), so grab your crash pad or rope and have at it. Maybe you’ll get scared, maybe you’ll get hurt, maybe you’ll get honed.
BEST BLISS GURU
With his electric-purple turban, salt-and-pepper goatee, ubiquitous wad of gum lodged in his cheek, and the chunky circles of silver adorning his fingers and his wrists, Dr. Guru Dev (a.k.a. Dr. Julian Neil) is as much rock star as he is Kundalini yoga teacher. And psychotherapist. And naturopath. In an esoteric yoga discipline bathed in a haze of chiffon-wrapped, rainbow sparkled woo-woo, Guru Dev’s New York accent and down-to-earth rap makes Kundalini’s panting, frog-hopping and chanting accessible. While his classes are laden with mojo and high-vibing yoga magic, his delivery is clear and matter-of-fact, easy on the logical, discerning mind. On Wednesday nights, Guru Dev is joined by master percussionist Julio Moreno, whose tribal rhythms and shamanic beats belie an intuitive understanding of the exercises’ natural rhythms, and lend themselves perfectly to the Kundalini experience. Guru Dev ends each class with a gong meditation that sends his students into deep, deeper and still deeper states of relaxation and extradimensional bliss. Golden Bridge Yoga, 6322 DeLongpre Ave., Hlywd. (323) 936-4172.