With its reputation as one of Forest Hills' best places to get together with friends and family, Exo Cafe has become the place to go to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers or brunch. This trendy and casual hotspot located on Austin Street has three levels, an open-loft area, a wrap-around central bar with five flat screens, rooms and space for quiet rendezvous … [Read More...] about Forest Hills Go To Spot For All Occasions: Exo Cafe
Parents are spoiled for choice at ISTEIN Education Center, a center offering after-school programs, music classes, and Chinese language courses. Located in the heart of Forest Hills, close to bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants and doctor offices, ISTEIN is an ideal center for parents looking to enrich their child’s musical talents, learn a second language or participate in an after-school and summer school program.
Want to know about ISTEIN? Learn more from Kelly, the front desk manager at ISTEIN:
1. We read that ISTEIN Education Center is made up of 3 different schools: School of Music and Art, ISTEIN Academy, and Chinese School. When did ISTEIN start and why did the founder(s) choose Forest Hills?
Istein was founded in 2013, but our company has 15+ years of childcare and education services. Forest Hills is a very family-oriented community with parents truly invested not only in their child’s academic performance but as well as the extracurricular activities their children participate in. Forest Hills provides us the opportunity not just to offer our services but we have other local businesses/facilities provide options for our summer day camp trips without having to travel too far.
2. Could you please tell our readers what services/classes are available at ISTEIN?
Istein offers after-school homework assistance, Chinese language lessons, private and group music lessons, academic enrichment classes for State Test and Gifted + Talented Test prep, and a summer day camp.
3. What age groups do you cater to?
We have academic and Chinese language programs for students from Preschool age to 6th grade. However, we offer music lessons catered to students from 4-years old to adulthood. For students too young for an instrumental study we have music appreciation classes to get children acquainted with the variety and fun of music.
4. How’s your music school different from other music schools in the area?
Many music schools only offer one on one instrumental lessons, but we offer various group lessons and incorporate music into our other programs such as our Chinese language class and summer day camp. While we have classical instrument programs, we also have a very strong jazz and pop music program and provide unique group lessons such as jazz choir and ukulele group lessons. All the teachers in this school are all experienced, acclaimed music performers on the New York music scene. Additionally, Istein hosts semi-annual recitals at a local venue open to the public for all of our students to perform various musical acts.
5. At what age would you recommend a child start music lessons? How would a parent know a child is ready for music lessons?
For instrumental practice, we advise students as young as 5 to study, but from an even younger age we recommend children gain an appreciation for music through musical games and singing. However, our own Annie Chen (Music Program Director), an internationally praised Jazz musician started studying piano at the age of 4-years-old and recognizes some children have the potential to master an instrument from such a young age.
6. How has the Forest Hills neighborhood changed in the last 10 years and if improvements are needed, what should be the first thing we should do to make this neighborhood even better?
Over the last ten years, we’ve seen several small local businesses close and are afraid to see this continue. Every summer ISTEIN’s day camp goes on weekly field trips, and we prefer to keep it local since there is so much the Forest Hills community has to offer, and we’re afraid high rent prices will drive away these opportunities with so many businesses closing their doors.
Schedule a tour or learn about enrichment programs at Istein’s website: ISTEIN
What Olympic sport combines the beauty of a dancer, the agility of gymnast, and the creativity of an artist?
Using a rope, ball, ribbons, clubs, and choreographed routines, Rhythmic Gymnastics presents a delightful routine filled with grace and agility. Queens Gymnastics, a rhythmic gymnastics school in Forest Hills was established by Mila and Alex, a mother and son team from the Ukraine. Both are passionate about this sport and care deeply for their students.
Rhythmic Gymnastics is a wonderful way for girls to develop artistic sensitivity, poise, balance, creative expression, strength, and flexibility. But the benefits don’t stop there! Girls who engage in this form of dance also improve fitness, self-confidence, discipline, and coordination.
Interestingly, dancers also show increased cognitive skills which can lead to improved academic performance and other lifelong benefits!
The coaches at Queens Gymnastics have over 20 years of combined experience (including international) in the sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics. They enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to help students grow in skill and healthy personal habits. The instructor-student ratio is kept low to increase the individual attention for students.
Forest Hills Today asked Alex of Rhythmic Gymnastics to answer a few questions for us:
1. When did Forest Hills Rhythmic Gymnastics start and why did the founders choose Forest Hills?
We live in Forest Hills. We felt that our neighborhood was missing some after-school activities for children. That idea led to this school being established in 1991.
2. Could you please tell our readers what dance programs are available at Rhythmic Gymnastics?
Rhythmic Gymnastics opportunities include ballet, dance, choreography, acrobatics and performing arts.
Classes are available from Sundays through Thursdays. These classes are designed for recreational Rhythmic Gymnastics. (Competitive performers would be required to follow a special diet and train at least 5 hours per day.)
3. How is your dance school different from other dance schools in the area?
What makes us different than other dance schools is the incredible results we see in the children’s performance in a short period of time. Also, we focus on discipline, the sport, and believing that every child has a talent.
4. What age groups do you cater to? At what age would you recommend a child start dance lessons?
We enroll children from age 4 to 17. Though we officially enroll children from age 4, we have made exceptions for mature and independent 3 year olds. Most of our students are from the Forest Hills area but some travel from Roosevelt Island.
Students have an opportunity to perform the skills they are learning in a special yearly program on Father’s Day. We call it ‘Father’s Day Graduation Performance” and it’s usually attended by 600-700 guests.
5. How has the Forest Hills neighborhood changed since you’ve been here?
Over the years, we’ve seen more professional working couples moving to Forest Hills from Manhattan. As these families have children, they look for the amazing activities Forest Hills has to offer them.
Rhythmic Gymnastics will provide your child with a creative and healthy way to express themselves! Learn more about this opportunity at: QueensGymnastics.com
As you venture through Forest Hills, keep your ears tuned for notes of creativity and beauty flowing from Hug Music. Co-founders Kana Kamitsubo-Markovic and Sasha Markovic strongly believe that music benefits all people in a variety of ways. The Hug instructors are a unique combination of music teachers, music therapists, and music performers (classical and jazz).
Hug Music gives individual and customized music lessons. Both Kana and Sasha use their diverse music training, composing skills, and performing background to provide quality experiences and lessons for each student based on their needs.
Igniting passion for music and inspiring creativity are valued goals for Hug Music. Kana has developed a music therapy method, Musicreative, combining music therapy and music education for children of disabilities. Classes are available that cater to individuals with special needs such as Autism, ADHD, ADD, and Dyslexia.
Dreams of Tutus, Tap, Jazz hands, and thunderous applause? Look no further! All Star Studios is a Forest Hills based business that can help you fulfill those dreams.
Whether you’re a beginning dancer or experienced one, All Star Studios has a wide variety of classes for ages 3 to adult. Classes are led by teachers who are well-qualified and are passionate about dance and about the students they are training. All Star Studios is a bright, clean, and spacious facility offering parent viewing windows as well as a well-equipped waiting area which is ideal for parents with smaller children.
This dance and theater school provides opportunities for movement, muscle training, flexibility, and fun! Their website is easy to navigate and provides an online portal for registering students. Forest Hills Today spun a few questions their way which were answered by owner, Rysa:
1. We read that you started the dance studio in 2008, could you please tell our readers what it was like during the first year of running a business?
It was exciting and scary!!! I was fortunate enough to run the studio under another name with a silent partner from 2004-2008, which gave me time to build up a wonderful staff and dancers for our All Star Family. I did as much as I could to really get into the schools and community in those four years to help get our name out and help people understand what our dance studio would be about.
Taking it over on my own in 2008 was a daunting, but wonderful challenge. I did lots of reading and research to make sure I was making the best decisions for my teachers and my dancers…while still trying to wrap my brain around all the dynamics of actually running a small business. I’m thankful to have had such strong support from my staff and the families who’ve continued with us.
2. Why did you decide to start a business in Forest Hills and what distinguishes Forest Hills from other neighborhoods?
Forest Hills is such a thriving, energetic, family-oriented community!! My silent partner from the previous studio had done her research and found such a wonderful town in 2004. There was no way I could see being anywhere else when I expanded in 2008.
3. What type of dances do you offer and which is the most popular program?
We offer Hip Hop, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Dance Improv, Acrobatics, Ballet, and Pointe. All of the genres are very popular, but our Acro classes fill up the fastest! It is a combination of gymnastics-type floor work/tumbling and dance so the kids love putting the two skills together.
4. What’s the best age to get kids started in the dance program and which program would be the best for beginners?
We truly believe that, developmentally, dancers should start taking class around the age of 3. This is an important time for them where they start successfully separating from their parents and also crave dance training rather than just free dancing to music.
I tell families that call wanting a program for their 2 year old that we don’t want to make it ‘school’ for them too early…if they love dancing around, the best thing is to dance with them to every style of music you have access to. This will help their musicality tremendously when and if they do decide to dance later on!! I could create a class like this, but it just doesn’t feel right to be making a profit on teaching skills that the family can do right in their living room!
We have level-1 dance classes that are great for beginners that want to start at any age!!! You don’t have to start at age 3 to be a successful dance student, you just have to have the desire and dedication!!
5. How has the neighborhood changed in the last five years?
Forest Hills is wonderful about keeping clean and the Chamber of Commerce does a great job of trying to keep community activities thriving, but unfortunately, it is sad to watch so many small businesses be run out of the neighborhood or out of business altogether because of increased rents. So many of the spaces have been taken up by banks and doctor’s offices because they are the only businesses that can afford the space. Some spaces also stay empty for so long…. I feel like the small businesses are what really add to the charm of Forest Hills, so I hope the pendulum starts to swing the other way soon!
6. What’s the hottest music for dance right now?
That definitely depends on the genre of dance, but we are seeing an increase in blending of styles used in music today. This blend makes it interesting for us to choreograph to and for the students to dance to! Part of our job is to not only keep up with the musical trends of today, but for the benefit of our dancers’ education, to also introduce them to amazing music from the past!
7. Besides classes, what other activities are available for student participation throughout the year at All Star Studios?
Along with the family atmosphere that we strive for at All Star Studios, giving back to the community through our art form is something that we stress to our dancers. Our Shining Star dance team does do competition, but that is not where we like to put our main focus.
The teams do a multitude of performances in order to share their love of dance with the community and fund raise for those in need! Outside of their year-end recital, many of the team dancers perform at the annual street fairs on Austin Street, for seniors in nursing homes, and for kids in programs at the Queens Center Mall. The dancers have also done an amazing job doing fundraising events and shows for Autism Speaks. Seeing the pride that the kids have after spreading the joy of dance is without comparison!
Besides dance performances, we encourage the All Stars Studio family to give back to the community in ways such as: PJammin’ Party which raises funds for the American Childhood Cancer Association (ACCO), by donating time, gifts, or money to City Harvest, Forestdale Foster Care & Social Services, and From Our Hearts To Your Toes.
Just for extra fun, we also give the dancers the opportunity to perform center-court at Madison Square Garden, the Barclay’s Center, and on the field at Citifield!
Not sure what you or your child might enjoy? Try one of All Star Studio’s classes for free!
Learn more about All Star Studios Forest Hills, their staff, and their schedule at: AllStarStudiosNYC.com
All Stars Studios is located at: 108-21 72nd Ave #1, Forest Hills, NY 11375