“You never regret the mornings you got up early,” says Kelsie Chandler, a bikini and figure competitor at House of Payne. With the help of House of Payne, this lead vocalist gained the confidence and stamina she needed to rock out onstage with her band, Party On The Moon. It was a combination of cardio training alongside weight lifting that made her the total package. If you have what it takes, follow Kelsie’s lead and let House of Payne help you reach your fitness and lifestyle goals.

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Not just a show, but a culturally-inspiring experience

By Annie Paschal

The visual spectacle that is LUZIA, A Waking Dream of Mexico by Cirque du Soleil
opens with a parachutist skydiving into a dreamlike trance where the adventurer
experiences Mexico in a whole new light. What follows is a miraculous illusion filled with vibrant primary colors, pouring rain, and stunning imagery.


The sun rises over a majestic mountainscape and breathes life into 10 different acrobatic acts. From aerialists to contortionists, the spectacle offers an abundance of enchanting circus entertainment. LUZIA will be the 17th show Cirque du Soleil has brought to the big top at Atlantic Station.

Showing a deep appreciation for Mexican culture and heritage, Otomi print, a traditional customary South American pattern, was used throughout costume designs. The show’s Artistic Director Gracie Valdez says,“A lot of research and development went into the structure and maintenance of those ideas.” Everything from set design to technological innovation allows for the creation of the imaginative outfits, props, and scenery. From blooming flowers on a dress to an intense rain shower filling the stage, Cirque du Soleil has once again outdone itself.

In a series of visual surprises and showstopping acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on an artistic journey. A combination of traditional and modern influences, the sounds and people of Mexico are heard and seen in each vivid scene (think smoky dance hall to arid desert).

We sat down with two of the freestyle soccer performers. The first is Venezuelan-born Laura Biondo who has been playing soccer since she was 10. And after playing for two professional major league teams in Italy, it was easy to see why she is a natural fit for this role. Her signature trick—which she holds the 2013 Guinness World Record for—is called the “clipper.” It involves kicking the ball up and bouncing it on the heel of the foot. But Laura takes it a step further—the leg bouncing the ball is twisted behind the standing leg! “It’s very exciting and surreal that I get to share my passion with the audience and show them a different side of soccer,” Laura boasts.

Abou Traoré is Laura’s partner in the show. Abou got his start in Guinea, playing street
soccer with friends. At 8, his family moved to Paris where he began training seriously and playing in semiprofessional clubs. So when Cirque du Soleil approached him about performing, he gladly obliged. “I love dancing. I try to mix soccer with dancing,” Abou says. His favorite routine requires him to balance a ball on his head. And to make it look even more magical, he grabs his chin and pulls his head from side to side and up and down—all while not toppling over.

In the story line, Abou and Laura meet on the streets of Mexico to kick a soccer ball around, show off, and bond over a love of the sport. The energy between them is like that of siblings egging each other on to do better, yet still maintaining a slight level of competition.


The show continues with everything from a captivating serenade in Spanish to a fast-paced juggling act and much more. The crowd will be mesmerized as performers paint images with the water from the rain curtain.

Originally planned to appear in Atlanta for only four weeks, the show will now spend a total of 10 weeks in Midtown. “We always have a warm reception. We always have amazing audiences … we couldn’t help but extend the run,” says Gracie.

See all the acts under the big top in Atlantic Station from Sept. 14-Nov. 19. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased through CirqueDuSoleil.com.

Photography by Matt Beard. Costumes by Giovanna Buzzi.

2016 Cirque du Soleil.    

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From Sept. 14 to Nov. 19, enter a world filled with astonishing acrobatic performances and surreal visuals that only Cirque du Soleil creators could imagine. Mind-bending contortions, jaw-dropping trapeze tricks, and “Guinness World Records”-level juggling can be seen at LUZIA, a Waking Dream of Mexico.

Details: Tickets start at $35,
Atlantic Station; cirquedusoleil.com/luzia

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Atlanta’s highly anticipated food and beverage festival, Taste of Buckhead, is back September 14 at The Stave Room at American Spirit Works. Venture on a culinary escapade with elite chefs and mixologists from American Cut, The Big Ketch, Smokebelly, SweetWater Brewing Company, and many more! This one-of-a kind experience allows you to taste top bites all while moving from table to table inside the 10,500-square-foot room.

Taste of Buckhead

This must-attend soirée hosted by the Buckhead Business Association (BBA) has been a staple in the community for 14 years. “Taste of Buckhead really captures the true essence of Atlanta,” says Barry Hundley, 2017 president of the Buckhead Business Association. “This city is an incredible melting pot of flavors and all of that diversity is represented in this event. We are able to bring together some of the area’s best restaurants to create a premier culinary experience.”

Event-goers will indulge in unlimited tastings from more than 20 of Buckhead’s finest eateries. Savor a variety of flavors from decadent meats to sweet treats and explore the diversity of the Buckhead culinary scene in one place. “Every year, we work to bring in new flavors, tastes and vendors to ensure that our guests get a vast sampling of all that Buckhead has to offer,” Hundley says. “This year is no different and the VIP experience now includes access to the fantastic outdoor courtyard of The Stave Room at American Spirit Works. This VIP area will be more intimate and will offer guests exclusive tastes that will not be available in the main area.”

While here, help feed the hungry by participating in the Spirit Wall. Select your favorite spirit or bottle of wine from this wall and your $20 donation will benefit Second Helpings Atlanta. “The Buckhead Business Association is sincerely committed to giving back to the community,” Hundley says. “This event allows us a terrific opportunity to rally our members to support an organization that benefits Buckhead. With the goal of eliminating hunger in the Atlanta area by rescuing surplus food and delivering it to those in need, Second Helpings Atlanta is the perfect benefactor for this event.” A percentage of the proceeds will go toward Second Helpings Atlanta, which takes surplus food from restaurants and redistributes it to those in need.

TOB spirit wall


VIP ticket holders early admission starts at 5:30 p.m. and a private tour of American Spirit Whiskey’s distillery opens at 6:30 p.m. There are only 150 VIP tickets available for purchase for $75. General admission tickets are $50 and doors open at 6 p.m. For purchase options, click here.

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Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 1.00.17 PMEverything in the cozy Decatur shop, HomeGrown, is made by local artisans. We especially love unwinding with a candle by Kismet ($14-$24). Purchase one from its Vintage Collection and the brand will refill your container at a discounted price. The Sandalwood and Rose scent is perfect for this time of year.

 Details: 412 Church St., Decatur; homegrowndecatur.com

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Hayden Owner of Cat Cafe in CafeJava Cats Café burst onto the Atlanta scene with a unique idea dedicated to serving both the people—and cats—of the city. Half of this cat café is dedicated to coffee concoctions and tasty treats provided by Gathering Industries, and the other half is where feline friends from PAWS Atlanta find their fur-ever home. Stop in for a cup of joe or a snuggle.

Details: 415 Memorial Dr. SE., Atlanta; javacatscafe.com

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By Annie Paschal

Matt Ryan promo shot How Atlanta Falcons’ Quarterback Matt Ryan Stays Active and Stylish in his Banana Republic Gear

Being fit and healthy is one of the keys to looking great. Another important factor is fashion. What you wear can change the game. Here’s where the new Rapid Movement Chino collection by Banana Republic comes into play. This line is ideal for men who stay active and appreciate sleek and comfortable attire.

Some of the top athletes in the U.S. were selected to be a part of the Banana Republic Men’s Style Council, including Matt Ryan, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. And notably, the National Football League’s 2016 Most Valuable Player.

We caught up with the hometown hero about being a tastemaker and to get his thoughts on the new pant collection. As someone who spends nearly half his time in workout apparel, Matt appreciates that the Rapid Movement Chino collection allows a man to combine a refined look with a similar ease to that of athletic wear. “It’s about being able to move and be comfortable … and that’s one of the cool things about the new chinos. As stylish as they are, and as good as they look, you can move around in them,” Matt says. These pants are made from breathable cotton fabric combined with an expertly crafted stain- and water-resistant coating to provide optimal longevity.

Matt Ryan checks out the new Rapid Movement Chino Collection at the Banana Republic store inside Lenox Square.

Matt Ryan checks out the new Rapid Movement Chino Collection at the Banana Republic store inside Lenox Square.

When Matt wants to have a night out in Decatur with his wife, Sarah, he prefers to don something slightly more refined and the chinos are an obvious choice. He credits Sarah and Banana Republic with helping him stay stylish over the years. “I had always shopped at Banana Republic growing up and I’ve worn their clothes for a long time. When I was approached to partner with them, I thought it would be a great fit because I’ve been a customer forever. I like their stuff and thought it was nice to be able to give my input a little bit too,” he says.

The collection is now available in-store and online at bananarepublic.com. Each pant, which retails for $98, comes in a variety of colors including burgundy, black, olive, charcoal, gray and more.


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Nuggets of Wisdom from POUR on How to Build Your Perfect Bar Cart


Abbey Glass Studio in Ponce City Market

On July 15, we sat down with some of the most in-the-know bartenders in the city to learn how to create an Instagram-worthy bar cart and craft tasty cocktails.

Local fashion designer Abbey Glass played host to POUR, an educational cocktail party company, and its co-owners Kendall Dreyer and Katie Ewing, alongside Duane Kuhlers of Octopus Bar, at her Ponce City Market studio.

In an effort to bring Atlantans a sip and shop event with a twist, POUR socialites from the Atlanta area attended ready to imbibe—and shop the night away.

Before you can begin whipping up dirty martinis to dazzle your friends, you’ll need these bar cart essentials.

Abbey's inspiration for her fall/winter line is Marie Antoinette in the modern day—she's classic and regal with a little bit of an edge.

Model in the Black lace Jane top and Winter White Blair skirt. Abbey’s inspiration for her fall/winter line is Marie Antoinette in the modern day— regal with a little bit of an edge.

  • Shaker Tin: Shaking a drink while using a pint glass as an improvised top can cause the glass to break. So be sure to grab one with a metal bottom and top.

  • Strainer: Kendall recommends a Hawthorne-style strainer, which are designed to quickly strain drinks while leaving them free of objects (fruit, ice) you don’t want in the glass.

  • Jigger: Start with a basic 1-ounce jigger for simple drinks.

  • Bar Spoon: A ⅛-ounce bar spoon is useful for ladling out liqueurs or other speciality add-ons.

  • Mixing Glasses: Just about any glass will do (think pint glass). Keep these around for quick and easy mixing.

Once you have your tools assembled, give these recipes from Kendall and Katie a whirl.


An Aviation

Gin serves as the base of this lite beverage. It adds a crisp and refreshing taste to the libation without overpowering it the way vodka sometimes can. A playground for cocktail crafters, it’s no wonder why Kendall of POUR always says, “Why drink vodka when you could have gin?”

2 ounce gin

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce maraschino liqueur

A bar spoon of crème de violette

Shake all ingredients.Strain into a chilled coupe.Garnish with lemon twist.



Built around rye whiskey, this is a classic for those who prefer dark liquors. The smooth, spicy taste of rye whiskey packs a punch over plain bourbons. Stir up a timeless Manhattan with this simple recipe.

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2 ounce rye whiskey

1 ounce sweet vermouth

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice.

Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with cherry.

Details: Abbey Glass Studio at Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE., Atlanta; PonceCityMarket.com. To plan your own personal cocktail party with POUR, reach out to Kendall or Katie at PourGirlsAtl@gmail.com.

Fashion photos courtesy of Abbey Glass, photography by Wedig & Laxton 2017.

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Microneedling is the process of tiny needles penetrating the skin to create thousands of controlled micro wounds to the dermis. This process stimulates your skin’s natural ability to heal itself and produce new collagen and elastin. It also softens fine lines and wrinkles and reduces the appearance of scars, hyperpigmentation and pore size, which all results in tighter, brighter, smoother and more radiant skin.

Collagen remodeling in healthy skin takes at least 90 days. So the effects of microneedling may not be fully appreciated for at least three months after the procedure, but the effects last for years. The results are gradual and mild because this is a natural progression. Microneedling helps the skin help itself. A patient won’t see major results from just one treatment. They’ll see major results from a series of five to six treatments if they have a lot of signs of aging (loss of elasticity/sagging skin, loss of collagen, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, pore size, etc.).  Some people, who have severely neglected their skin (smokers, sun worshipers, fast food addicts, etc.) need more than six.


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Details: 770.929.0634. ATLANTA - 280 Elizabeth Street Suite C Atlanta, Georgia 30307. CONYERS- 1366 Wellbrook Circle Suite B Conyers, Georgia 30012
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puppeteerJeff Domke Brings a Unique Experience to Children and Teens with Type 1 Diabetes at Camp Kudzu

One summer, Morgan, a Camp Kudzu camper, asked the puppet, Woodrow Weasel to be her date to the end-of-summer dance. Woodrow gladly obliged, but the day of the dance, due to complications from her Type 1 diabetes, Morgan had to stay in the infirmary. Woodrow overheard the news and decided to surprise his date at the infirmary. The 9-year-old girl was overjoyed and the moment was so magical that it’s hard to remember the man behind it, Jeff Domke, was even there.

Known as the “Puppet Dude,” this year will be Domke’s 15th summer creating special moments, such as the one above, with Camp Kudzu attendees. The nonprofit camp is dedicated to providing children and teenagers with Type 1 diabetes a camp experience that caters to their health needs. Their weeklong camps are filled with adventurous activities such as archery, fishing, kayaking,    zip lining and more.

Domke, who is a professional puppeteer and education program coordinator at the Center for Puppetry Arts, initially got involved with Camp Kudzu after the Center for Puppetry Arts received a grant to do puppet education at special needs camps. Having never been to summer camp himself, he fell in love with the experience it provides children. After losing the initial grant that brought him to Camp Kudzu, he continued to volunteer freely each summer. Now, a private donor funds Domke’s visits to the camp.

This summer, he will bring his professional puppeteer skills to Camp Kudzu’s third (July 9-14) and fourth (July 30-August 5) camp sessions. While there, he will lead puppet-building workshops, puppet shows, use puppets to teach children about cultures from around the world, and host the annual talent show with the help of his         co-host, Woodrow.

Domke assures that you don’t have to be a master puppeteer to bring joy to kids at Camp Kudzu, all you need is your time and dedication. As a nonprofit with a small yearlong professional staff, over 400 volunteers are needed each summer to make Camp Kudzu a wonderful place to learn and play. The staff will teach you everything you need to know to be a great volunteer. Plus, no prior knowledge of diabetes is required.

Want to volunteer and support puppetry throughout the year? Domke encourages people to volunteer as a docent at the Center for Puppetry Arts, or simply support the center with your admission to their amazing exhibits and shows.

Details: campkudzu.org, puppet.org


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