Not many actors can say they've performed in a production directed by a 12-year-old, but Erin Coley has always had an instinctive sense of how to put on a show. Years later, she and her husband, J.R., founded Standing Ovation Performing Arts, assembling eight other experts in the field to encourage kids to get on the stage as early as possible. Improv comedy, puppetry, and playwriting help students express themselves while giving them the skills to deliver confident class presentations and rousing monologues on the futility of naptime.
MUSE stands for "mastering unique self expression"—a common experience for students at the MUSE Center for the Arts, where they show off their creativity in dance, music, and theater classes. Its instructors, who come from a variety of arts backgrounds, have extensive résumés, including dancing with choreographer Twyla Tharp's company, performing at the Metropolitan Opera House, and specializing in stage combat.
Both children and adults learn styles such as jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary in dance classes, and skilled kids aged 6–18 can try out for MUSE's competitive dance team. Musicians can further their craft in private or group lessons available for a variety of instruments, including voice, guitar, and violin. And the theater season is divided into school-year and summer sessions, where young Broadway hopefuls learn how to sing, dance, and write a quippy Playbill bio.
The members of PAN Performing Arts Network bring a range of backgrounds to their international collective: some are experienced musical composers, guitarists, and singers, while others are established teaching artists and actors. Their expertise allows them to gather all the arts under one roof with an annual performance season and more than 40 regular classes each week. These classes span instruction in dance styles such as ballet, modern, Afro-Haitian, and Irish step, as well as training in creative movement, acting, instrumental music, and voice. Instructors tailor their classes to the needs of beginner through advanced-level adults, children, and children disguised as adults. They also provide classes suited to senior citizens and students with special needs.