Barcelona’s famous production line almost requires no introduction. La Masia – or "The Farmhouse" – is the world’s best football academy, producing intelligent, grounded and skillfully gifted players at an unprecedented level. La Masia has 300 students from nations such as Cameroon, South Korea, as well as Spain and the rest of the world. Players are molded between the ages of 7-20 to be schooled in the Barcelona's "Tiki-taka" philosophy. La Masia graduates continue to dominate world football with six players from the academy starting in Spain’s 2010 World Cup victory over Holland. Also, three received either gold, silver or bronze in the Ballon d’Or during their careers. The archetypal La Masia graduates of modern years are Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta — two talented football players who embody FC Barcelona in every possible way. However, its most successful graduate is Lionel Messi. Some have argued that he has conquered world football by synthesizing the Argentine street football of his youth with the rigorous La Masia education he received since age 14.
In 1991, Mark Featherstone-Witty — founder of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts — established, with the backing of Sir Richard Branson, the British Record Industry Trust (BRIT) School for Performing Arts. He cited the film "Fame" as inspiration to create a school for nurturing talented young performers. He succeeded. The BRIT School, located in Croydon, has developed an uncanny knack for developing female musical vocalists and allowing them to hone their abilities to make a name for themselves. The two most notable alumni of the BRIT School are undoubtedly Adele and Amy Winehouse — two iconic female voices both classically trained in jazz and soul. Between them, they have sold about 10 million albums in the UK and 15 million albums in the US, placing a firm British footprint on the global stage.
No place on earth can boast the acting pedigree of the Actors Studio in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. From its beginning, founded by legendary director Elia Kazan and others, the Actors Studio developed the technique called "method acting." The studio employs teachings of theatre academic Konstantin Stanislavski, who promoted complete assimilation and development within roles. Under the visionary leadership of Lee Strasberg, the Actors Studio served as the training ground for some of film’s greatest actors and actresses, including Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn, Kevin Spacey and countless others. Some of the greatest characters in cinematic history — Michael Corleone, Travis Bickle, Kaiser Soze — have been developed here. Following the death of Strasberg, Pacino, Keitel and Burstyn took the reins to the Studio, ensuring that its impeccable credentials and rigorous traditions are upheld for generations to come.
Towns that produce a great band or two are no great phenomenon. In a case like Liverpool, the success of a band like the Beatles can set an unattainable benchmark for other local bands. Salford, however, has an altogether different and more interesting legacy. Emerging from the deprivation of the industrial North in the '70s and '80s, Salford found itself in the epicentre of modern alternative music with the emergence of Peter Hook & Bernard Sumner in Joy Division and later New Order. Their music, rather than being developed from positive influences, was instead derived from the poverty in the area. It also shaped and influenced music in Manchester and the rest of the country. Salford became iconic, and was immortalised by another Manchester band, the Smiths, who were famously photographed lurking outside the Salford Lads’ Club — a building that is now a shrine to the enduring musical legacy of the area.
A small area of London largely constructed of verdant formal squares, Bloomsbury has a literary reputation that is incredibly hard to explain. For years, this hidden pocket of central London has been a residence for some of the most iconic writers in literary history, from Charles Dickens to J.M. Barrie to W.B. Yeats. In recent years, is has proved to be a comedy hotspot for such talents such as Alexie Sayle, Catherine Tate and Ricky Gervais, who all lived here in their formative years. Why? Well for the most part, Bloomsbury is notably serene with beautiful houses and gardens. In fact, it was in his home at 8 Grenville Street where J.M. Barrie chose to set "Peter Pan" — a story that every man, woman and child in the country now knows.
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