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, Contemporary Dance, 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.
Nicole Shelley Models has placed people in campaigns for some of the world's most recognizable brands, including Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and Nike. As a licensed and bonded model and talent agency, the company works with both seasoned and amateur models, prepping the less experienced ones with runway and print training before seeking their placement in advertisements or runway shows. Nicole Shelley Models can also provide support for various types of events, putting together promotional items, invitations, entertainment, and public-relations campaigns.
The Ethnicity Modeling Academy doesn't just celebrate the beauty of diversity?their team helps models who fall outside the Kate Moss mold break into the industry. Their trick? Training sessions, ranging from acting workshops to modeling boot camps, which cover essentials such as posing and telling catwalks apart from long docks. The team hosts online webinars, too, such as "Ask LaShawnna," a Q&A-style session with veteran casting director LaShawnna Stanley.
Founded in 1999, Just The Funny Theater hosts a rotating roster of improv and sketch teams, and also opens its stage to standup comedians. The theater’s comedic cast members have numerous credits from local theater productions. Just The Funny also offers classes in the improvisational arts and sketch writing, during which instructors dispense the comedic skills they’ve learned from their own training with such groups as The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, and The Groundlings.