In many cultures, performers begin training at a young age to ensure they become proficient as well as confident in their art. While the instructors at Scripps Performing Arts Academy
believe in that approach, they put just as much focus on stoking the fires of creativity and ensuring that every student has some fun at the same time. Expert faculty members train students as young as three in myriad performance
classes, which are held in professional-grade studios outfitted with floating hardwood floors for safe frolicking. Though the studio specializes in the classical discipline of ballet, it also offers programs in tap, jazz, modern, and musical theatre dance. Private lessons, meanwhile, incorporate instruments such as piano.
A calendar of productions allows students ways to showcase what they've learned, and include musicals and three major ballet shows each year. Performances take place in the studios as well as a dedicated black box theatre outfitted with professional stage lights and sound equipment.
Determined to inspire and empower the next generation of aspiring dancers, Francine Garton founded The Royal Dance Academy in 2001 and has since opened a new state-of-the-art facility in Sorrento Valley with five studios. Garton and her staff of passionate instructors—all with professional dance experience—cater to children pursuing dance as a recreational hobby or as a more serious endeavor. With lessons available for everyone from college-aged students to children as young as 18 months, the academy covers a diverse assortment of dance disciplines, including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary. Lessons meet in the center's four professionally equipped dance studios, which feature joint-friendly sprung floors and NASA-grade antigravity technology. Although the instructors' ultimate goal is to teach students how to have fun while expressing themselves through dance, the teachers also offer more specialized training programs for attendees interested in competitive dance or musical-theater performance.
Vindicating the famous acting teacher Constantin Stanislavski's claim that that "there are no small parts, only small actors," Mini Theatre Troupe gives every young student their moment in the spotlight. With over 20 years of experience in unleashing the inner extrovert in ages 2–12, Mini Theatre's instructors coax confidence, creativity, camaraderie, and friendly competition from young thespians through acting exercises, games, and mini performances in mini plays. Elder actors (aged 8–12) can partake in seasonal Broadway mini-musical programs, where stage presence, vocal techniques, and acting skills are acquired through a range of games, culminating in a 20- to 40-minute staged musical performance for faculty and family.
Cathy Rowley, the owner of TVCD Performing Arts, has grown the school from modest classes in her garage to a 7,500-square-foot facility complete with five dance studios and a soundproof music room. In these classrooms, students can nurture their love of the performing arts with dance, music, and theater classes taught by professional artists. The dance program offers styles that include ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, and lyrical. The music department offers instruction in a variety of instruments, including piano, voice, percussion, classical guitar, and electric guitar, as well as classes that cover music theory. The theater program readies students to grace the stage with a wide variety of classes that include beginning and advanced acting, musical theater, improvisation, and acting for TV and film.
MVDPAC has strutted its way to the top of numerous competitions, including first place in the 2009 CityVoter OC Hotlist for best dance studio. Under the limber guidance of decorated instructors, both novice and seasoned can shakers choose from the list of one-hour daily drop-in classes, where twinkle-toes light up floors with sparks rivaled only by
Christmas trees that have fallen in the fireplace. Once inside the spacious studio, bodies bound across seven sprawling rooms and a studio theater. Students can elongate into states of grace through a selection of ballet courses, animate their legs and develop rhythm in the hip-hop courses, or practice freeform toe tapping and scatting the Greek alphabet through the jazz classes.
The adage that "there are no small parts, just small actors" rings truest at The Center Stage Studio, where budding thespians of all ages get their share of the spotlight. Under the experienced wand of director Tracey DiMiceli, a seasoned performer and theater instructor who also helmed Malibu's prestigious "Fitness by the Sea" summer camp, young actors develop the skills to sing, dance, and deliver heartfelt Tony Award acceptance speeches in a wealth of classes and camps.
In the family-tailored musical theater camps, which feature themes reflecting popular musicals and children's shows, lil' thespians learn the fundamentals of theater technique—including blocking, projecting, and stage direction—and cultivate skills that boost self-esteem and critical thinking. Camps end with a public performance where every child gets a spot in a major musical number and receives a speaking role, curbing the theatrical tradition of jealous prepubescent understudies.