Take in Some Culture with These 5 Shows

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico

State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. Photo courtesy of Jill Graziano, George Mason Center for the Arts.

 By Christopher Penrith

There are a variety of shows that are going on at local venues throughout Northern Virginia. From bluegrass to folk, rock to classical music and concerts to plays, there are plenty of shows to see. Here are five shows that are worth checking out this weekend.

1.  State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico
George Mason Center for the Performing Arts

If you’re interested in classical music with a Spanish flair, this is the event for you. This 40-year-old orchestra often performs music from well-known Spanish composers such as Enrique Granados. Their ensemble often includes works from European, Mexican and Spanish composers. Some examples include Verdi and Rossini, Manuel De Falla, Beethoven and Brahms.

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Q&A with your Pet’s Dentist and “Yappy Hour” at Friendship Hospital for Animals

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Yappy Hour at Friendship Animal Hospital

Photo courtesy of Friendship Hospital for Animals.

By Sophia Rutti 

A little-known fact: February is National Pet Dental Health Month. We all love our pets like family, and we do everything we can to make sure they’re exercising, eating well and feeling healthy, but we often neglect their oral health. Many of us avoid the dentist ourselves, and our personal reluctance extends to the furrier members of our families. 

Dr. Ray Phillip of Friendship Hospital for Animals “Tooth Team” gives tips about how to care for your pet’s dental health.

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Falls Church’s supernatural series, Malice, spotlighted at Rosebud festival

Posted by Editorial / Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Rosebud Film Festival

Photo courtesy of Philip J. Cook.

By Matthew Tracy

Falls Church may be rich in history, but now it’s ground zero for a wave of supernatural turbulence the world has never seen.

So goes the premise behind the award-winning web series “Malice,” created by Falls Church native Philip J. Cook and now available on YouTube. Described as “‘Juno’ meets ‘The Shining’“, “Malice” is the story of the Turners, a family who moves into their late grandmother’s house in Northern Virginia only to find something evil this way comes. It’s up to daughter Alice, played by Herndon native Brittany Martz, to save the family from a wicked fate.

Malice webseries

(From left to right) Actress Brittany Martz (Alice Turner); Director Philip J. Cook; Actor Mark Hyde (Nate Turner); Actress Cathryn Benson (Carolyn). Photo courtesy of Philip J. Cook

Alice’s latest adventure takes her to the heavens in “Malice: 1999,” which is part of the Showcase Lineup at the 25th Rosebud Film & Video Festival happening this weekend at the Artisphere in Arlington.

Cook is a seasoned veteran of the film industry. In 1992, his first film, “Outerworld“, reached a national audience when it aired on Syfy. He has made a new name for himself with “Malice,” and he did it through YouTube, an outlet he says has opened the market for different kinds of storytelling.

 “(YouTube) allows people to make their own media, which was impossible 20 years ago,” Cook says. “If you said (back then): ‘Hey, there’s this free international distribution platform. It costs no money. You don’t need a distributor. They don’t take 20 percent. And you can reach a wide audience right now, from your home,’ you would have thought that’s crazy.”

Although YouTube has changed how creators reach audiences, it can be difficult to break into the broader media landscape. Cook describes the Rosebud Film Festival as a major conduit for area filmmakers.

“There’s a lot of work that gets done in town, but we haven’t yet crossed the threshold into theatrical releases or mainstream cable television,” Cook says. “Like everybody, we’re all struggling, trying to get our projects made, financed and released. And that’s why Rosebud is a fun thing.”

Open to filmmakers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the Rosebud festival seeks to highlight the ” innovative, unusual, experimental, and deeply personal” in regional short-film cinema.

“What I really love about it is they’re really proactive in trying to connect with the local community in terms of getting the message out on all these people,” Cook says.

Audiences can see Cook’s “Malice: 1999″ and more at the Rosebud Film Festival this Saturday, Jan. 24, in Arlington, Virginia.

For more information, visit RosebudFestival.org.


Offset Winter Blues with a Pair of Family Activities

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By Victoria Gaffney


Winter family fun

Photo courtesy of milaphotos/shutterstock.com

The holidays are over, and New Year’s resolutions are only just getting underway, but that doesn’t mean you need to sit at home avoiding the cold air just beyond your doorstep. Plenty of fun activities wait for you and the kids right around the corner.

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Vote for your Best Picture and where to watch Oscar nominees

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Oscars 2015

Photo Courtesy of Joe Seer/Shutterstock

By Sophia Rutti 

It’s award season again, and the endless lists of which movies deserve to be seen are flooding the unsuspecting public. With the Oscars coming up on February 22, most of us have been caught unprepared and have seen less than half of the Best Picture nominees. With eight nominees and seven of them still showing in local theaters, this year’s list is steep. So sort through them, watch the ones that catch your eye and start making bets on who is going to win and who is going to receive the classic Oscars’ snub. Vote here for your choice for the Best Picture Winner.

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Experience the Evolution of Celtic Music at Hylton in the Highlands

Posted by Editorial / Monday, January 19th, 2015

Hylton in the Highlands

Photo courtesy of Katie Campbell.

By Michael Balderston

As a nation of immigrants many aspects of the American culture have evolved or been adapted from all different countries. Some may be a bit more obvious, like our affinity for pizza, but others’ integration has been more subtle.

One such example is Scottish music, which has served as a basis for what would become known as American Old Time music. It’s that evolution Elke Baker, Ken Kolodner and his son Brad Kolodner will be highlighting when they perform at this weekend’s Hylton in the Highlands: A Festival of Scotland.

Baker is a Maryland native, and 1995 National Fiddle Champion, and has been playing Scottish music since she discovered it in college. Kolodner got his music career going in medical school, focusing primarily on American Old Time. When the duo first started playing together 20 years ago it was an easy collaboration of the two styles thanks to their shared heritage, and they intend to show that with their ‘Evolving Traditions of Celtic Music’ performance at Hylton in the Highlands.

“What we’re aiming to do with that presentation is show a little bit of the Scottish roots of American music and how the two changed when they jumped over the Atlantic Ocean and spent a little time in the states,” says Baker.

“[American Old Time] tunes often grow out of various Celtic traditions,” says Kolodner, “Scottish, Irish music, English music and then combining them with African rhythms and banjo.”

Both Baker and Kolodner help to spread their music as teachers. Baker serves as the music director for the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club in Washington D.C. Kolodner, meanwhile, teaches around 90 students in both the fiddle and the hammered dulcimer in the Baltimore area. You can get a free lesson from Baker at Hylton in the Highlands, as she will also be leading a fiddle workshop.

“This is the kind of music that makes you feel like dancing,” says Baker, “makes you want to tap your toes and brings a lot of joy to people. It’s a great opportunity to hear it and find out a little more about it.”

Get that chance yourself by attending the Hylton in the Highlands this Saturday, January 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids. Family four packs can be bought for $40. Find out more here.

Hylton in the Highlands: A Festival of Scotland
Jan. 24, 2015
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
10960 George Mason Circle
Manassas, 20110

4 Kid’s Fitness Trips to try this Winter

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Wintertime is interesting when it comes to kids, especially coming up with ways to let them blow off some of their energy that won’t have you, in turn, pulling your hair out.

Knowing how treacherous our winters have become, shooing them outside to play may not cut it. Here are some unique classes to check out that will have them using some of their pent-up liveliness in a healthy way. –Lynn Norusis

Urban Evolution Parkour

Photo courtesy of Urban Evolution.

Looking at the way children play, you’d think they were part ninja; the way they run at their top speed, hurdling themselves over and under obstacles. With Urban Evolution’s Parkour for Kids classes, the children get to romp about in an environment that will teach them fundamental skills in a play atmosphere. Classes start with those as young as 4 years old. As the age levels increase more refinement and conditioning is incorporated into the training, with 14-year-old students being able to test and graduate into the adult program.

Urban Evolution
Alexandria & Manassas


Zumba in DC

Photo courtesy of Stasique/Shutterstock.com.

Dancing is in a child’s nature. A tune doesn’t even have to be playing, and they will hum it out and move to the beat. At Zumba, instructors take this love of movement and flow fitness into the choreographed routines. Steps are broken out into games and activities, some with the cultural elements from the dances. Not only do the children get to rock out to the music, they are also taught balance, coordination and confidence along with teamwork and leadership skills. Classes across the area are set up for 7- to 11-year olds through Zumba Kids and 4- to 6-year olds through Zumba Kids, Jr.

Multiple NoVA locations


The craze of CrossFit is now reaching children. Programs throughout the area focus on the basic skills of weightlifting and agility on a minimalistic scale—requiring little if any equipment. The focus in CrossFitKids is fun with integration of building basic exercise routines that children can take with them throughout life: strength, stamina, speed, coordination, flexibility, to name a few. Programs are offered for preschoolers—with exercises such as jumping jacks, crab walks and bear crawls—through teens—with exercises such as speed ladders, handstands, squats and more.

Multiple NoVA locations


 Sportrock Climbing Center rock climbing

Photo courtesy of Sportrock Climbing Center.

Rock climbing
Sportrock Climbing Center, with locations in Alexandria and Sterling, have a multitude of options for children who want to scale walls. From open climb times—for those who want to get a taste for climbing—to climbing teams, instructors help children learn the basic techniques for top roping (with the use of a harness and rope) and bouldering (sans harness and rope). Safety is priority and is taught throughout every lesson. And for those wanting to jump right in, Sportrock also offers overnight lock-ins where instructors teach children everything they need to know: harnessing, knotcraft and belaying.

Sportrock Climbing Center
Alexandria & Sterling

(January 2015)

4 Things to do over MLK weekend

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Atomazul/Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Atomazul/Shutterstock

By Michael Balderston

It’s Martin Luther King Day this Monday and that means our first three-day weekend of 2015. With the temperature set to pick up after the recent cold spell, it’s time to get out from underneath the blankets and back into world. There’s plenty to do this weekend for you and the kids to both honor Dr. King’s legacy and more.

‘Selma’ in theaters
The Golden Globe nominated film “Selma” follows Dr. King’s famous march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery and stars David Oyelowo as King. The film is a powerful portrait of the Civil Rights movement, how it remains relevant to this day and is a fitting tribute to Dr. King. “Selma” opened nationwide last Friday and is rate PG-13.

Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity
In 1965, Alekesi Leonov and Edward White were the first men to ever attempt space walks. 50 years later there has been a proud history of more than 200 men who have followed in their footsteps of Extra-Vehicular Activity and now you can learn all about it. The Air and Space Museum’s brand new exhibit includes artifacts and personal accounts from those who have been a part of EVA’s 50-year legacy.

‘Aladdin Jr.’ at Hylton Performing Arts Center
“Frozen” may be the Disney film of choice for the youngsters right now, but here’s the chance to reintroduce one of the all-time classics to them live. Pied Piper Theatre’s performance of “Aladdin Jr.” features a cast of young actors as Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, the villainous Jafar and the magical Genie and promises to take its audience to a whole new world. Show times are Saturday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 18 at 3 p.m at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Martin Luther King Day Celebrations
There will be a number of ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday. First, there will be a wreath laying service at the MLK Memorial in D.C. from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Later in the day there will also be a parade starting from Martin Luther King Ave. SE and Milwaukee Place SE in Anacostia at 11 a.m. Exhibits including ‘Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition’ and Theatre IV’s performance of ‘I Have a Dream’ also highlight the weekend’s celebration.

Warm Up this Winter with Paint-Your-Own Pottery

Posted by Editorial / Friday, January 9th, 2015

Pottery painting in Northern Virginia

Photo courtesy of Brian A Jackson/shutterstock.com

By Micaela Williamson

Your house is already too messy from snow days and delayed openings. Bring the kids to one of these great paint-your-own pottery places in Northern Virginia to create one-of-a kind treasured gifts to last a lifetime and get the creative spirits flowing.


Art from the Heart
325 Garrisonville Road
Stafford, 22554

No appointment is needed at this creative little studio. Try your hand at the great paint-your-own pottery selection or glass fusing. There are also “Pottery to Go” kits that allow customers to paint their pieces at home and bring it back to the studio for glazing. Refer to their website to learn about special events, such as a monthly homeschool days, preschool story hours, ladies’ nights and much more.


Clay Cafe Chantilly
13894 Metrotech Drive
Chantilly, 20151

Clay Cafe Falls Church
101 North Maple Ave.
Falls Church, 22046

These award-winning pottery studios continuously offer the largest selection of pottery and glass fusion pieces in the metro area. Plus, all materials are non-toxic, lead free and safe for the environment. Besides pottery, young artists can participate in origami, bottle cap magnets, scrapbooking, beading and card making. Always check the website for special events, coupons, and promotions.


Color Me Mine Ashburn
22855 Brambleton Plaza
Ashburn, 20148

Color Me Mine Fairfax
4209 Fairfax Corner Ave.
Fairfax, 22030

So much at the Color Me Mine locations is geared towards families. There are frequent kids’ nights out and pajama paints on the calendar. All the paint used is non-toxic and safe for kids. Both studios are in great locations (Brambleton and Fairfax Corner) near lots of shops and restaurants.


Jimmy Potters
6504 Williamsburg Blvd.
Arlington, 22213

The motto at Jimmy Potters Studio is “there are no mistakes in pottery,” and they strive to create a fun, artistic space for people of all ages.  Jimmy Potters offers open studio time for clay work and paint-your-own ceramics, as well as parties, workshops, and special events. Their special handprint pieces make the perfect keepsake, and a staff member will even come to your home, upon request, to capture your little one’s handprint.


Kiln & Co.
132 Church St., NW
Vienna, 22180

Artists of all ages are invited to work with pottery, sculpture, painting and other mediums at this new whimsical studio in downtown Vienna. Special classes and workshops are offered like Mommy & Me (ages 12 & under), Cupcake Sundays, Daddy-Daughter Date Night and Come Play Footies Fridays.

Paint This
1013 King Street
Alexandria, 22314

Situated in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, Paint This is a great outing. Families can select to paint pottery products such as dinnerware, ceramic pieces, and picture frames, or have a go at mosaics or glass fusion. Please check the website or call ahead for special events and promotions.


Paint Your Own Pottery
10417 Main Street
Fairfax, 22030

With a selection of over 600 pieces, everyone is bound to find something they want to paint. All their glazes are lead free and non-toxic. Studio hours, coupons, and updates are constantly updated on the website.


Courtesy of Tiffany Brown, Mamaratzy Photography

Micaela Williamson is a co-author of local travel guide, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.

‘Newsroom’s’ Jeff Daniels Tackles Music Scene, Coming to Birchmere

Posted by Editorial / Monday, January 5th, 2015

Photo courtesy of Think Press

Photo courtesy of Think Press

By Michael Balderston

Jeff Daniels has been a Civil War soldier, a news anchor and an idiot, but one thing you may not have known he was a musician. With 35-plus years as an actor, music has not been something Daniels was known for, but it has always been a part of him. He’s sharing his musical passion in an upcoming tour with his son’s band, The Ben Daniels Band, with a stop at the Birchmere on Thursday, Jan. 8.

Best known for his roles as Harry Dunne in “Dumb and Dumber” and Will McAvoy on “The Newsroom,” Daniels has studied the guitar and written songs in a notebook since he first moved to New York to pursue acting. In the early 2000′s, he shared his hidden talent for the first time in front of a live audience as part of a fundraiser for his Purple Rose Theater Company in Chelsea, Michigan.

“They said, ‘Why don’t you go out during Christmas and New Years and we’ll sell tickets and raise a lot of money?’ says Daniels. “I said ‘Yeah, sounds like a great idea,’ and then I actually had to go do it…. I still remember the flop sweat that happened during those early gigs.”

Since then Daniels has recorded six albums, including his latest, “Days Like These.” His upcoming tour will be the second in the last year.

“We did this in August and it went really well,” says Daniels. “We came off the road in August, and I said ‘When can we book again?’ and January was the month.”

Daniels says one of the best things about touring is the time he spends with his sons—playing on stage with Ben while his other son, Luke, serves as tour manager and videographer.

“To have Luke doing that… and Ben, to have him pick up a guitar because he heard it growing up and then do his own thing with it is just a thrill,” says Daniels. “To turn to your left and see, in Ben’s case, your son playing, that’s a life highlight.”

The tour originally had 19 dates, but Daniels was forced to pull out of some due to a scheduling conflict with a movie he’s doing. Daniels is confident they will reschedule though, because, as he says, “I don’t like to drop gigs.” 

Balancing acting and music is no easy task, but Daniels says he makes it work.

“The guitar is always with me, just as this wonderful, creative hobby,” said Daniels.

He may consider it a hobby, but he’s got some long-term plans beyond this upcoming tour.

“’Days Like These’ is not the last CD I’ll make,” says Daniels. “We have our real nice home recording studio now that Ben and Luke and I use. We didn’t build that for no reason, we’re going to use that thing.”

Jeff Daniels once parodied other celebrities who make a pass at singing with his song “If William Shatner Can I Can Too,” but he’s making clear that his music career is no joke.

You can buy tickets for Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band at the Birchmere here.

Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band
Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The Birchmere
3701 Mount Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, 22305

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