John Hand had a theory: for any problem a person might have, someone in their local community has a solution. To that end, he founded Colorado Free University, continuing a tradition that began with the Denver Free University of the 1970s and early '80s. Whereas the Denver Free University was created as a political move to make education more accessible, the Colorado incarnation sets its sights on simple personal betterment, becoming more of a learning network than a school. All of its teachers are independent contractors culled from the local community, and together they helm skill-based and enrichment classes for adults, spanning a range of artistic, humanitarian, and business disciplines.
Students can receive training in foreign languages or ASL, business or digital marketing, or acting, visual arts, or woodworking. The school's facilities also accommodate CompuSkills computer-training classes, which progress from basic sessions in computer operation to advanced sessions in photoshopping a ghost out of a family portrait. There are cooking classes, foreign language courses, and style classes, all of which turn out well-rounded pupils. The campus's 89-seat John Hand Theater, meanwhile, hosts intimate performances from local Firehouse Theater Company and Spotlight Theatre Company.
Every performer has a different goal. Recognizing this, the teaching staff at Academy of the Arts-Denver (each a professional in his or her respective field) designs all of their lesson plans around their students' individual goals. These highly personalized plans shape the approach to the school's age-specific, professional and recreational group acting and vocal classes. The teaching staff also uses their 75 years of accumulated experience to focus on talent development, whether students want to break into the business, or perform for the joy of it. Private lessons help build proficiency in guitar, bass, keyboard, and music production. Though lessons focus on specific technical training, the teachers encourage creative experimentation no matter the genre. Former students have established careers in TV, Broadway, Film, and Music. As they learn, Academy of the Arts-Denver's students are also encouraged to take part in rehearsals and performances.
Arthur Murray Dance Studios has been a leading name in social dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with certified instructors. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
With programs that often combine group and private instruction, TG Danzport Studio gives dancers the opportunity to hone their skills before learning to dance alongside other couples. Six styles of dancing range from Country Swing to Samba, and cater to all abilities, especially beginners. Private lessons for kids are also available to develop rhythm and coordination.
The Colorado School of Acting's directors, Elizabeth Horne and Troy Horne, combine their dual loves of stage and screen to impart acting chops to students of all ages and experience levels. Elizabeth—who has acted in more than 25 plays and 12 movies—and Troy—a sitcom and film producer who appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award–winning musical Rent—staff their team with veteran acting instructors, each of whom have more than 10 years of experience in the biz. During their classes, they teach students to focus and perform under a variety of circumstances, with workshops in subjects ranging from improv and commercial work to audition skills and voiceovers. They welcome kids for acting summer camps, where they introduce fundamentals of memorization, character development, and rehearsal. Instructors also help thespians develop with more advanced training, including filmmaking summer camps for kids, and a certificate program for all age levels that requires students to audition or present a signed permission slip from David Schwimmer.