By Maggie Caldwell
“Everything in life takes effort”
— Carol Richmond
Educators are quick to point out that performing arts education — whether music, dance, or theater — helps teach students confidence, perseverance, focus, and accountability. No one lives that more than Carol Richmond, owner of the Aptos Academy of Performing Arts (AAPA). Carol and her teachers are passionate about the benefits of the education offered at AAPA.
“Competency and excellence take determination,” points out Carol. “It takes time, passion, tears, and sweat. Everything in life takes effort — that’s such an important lesson to learn. The theater arts give that, with the positive reinforcement of a job well done.”
AAPA is a community space offering private and group instruction in music, dance and movement, and musical theater. “It’s a one-stop shop for performing arts education,” says Richmond. “We go from young children all the way through high school students. It’s a safe place to gather and start on a wonderful path of growth.”
She points out that many of the dancers wear t-shirts that say, “I Can’t, I Have Rehearsal.” “It’s meant to be tongue in cheek but there’s truth to it. Here young people have the choice to make positive decisions about what to do with their time and explore a clear passion. To have good feelings about themselves.” Carol has owned dance studios for almost 30 years, and although a small percentage of her students have gone on to study dance at major universities and work with dance companies across the country, she’s quick to point out that’s not the goal. “It’s not about being the best — it’s about growth. Performing arts education is about how to reach your own personal potential.”
“To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak”
Aptos Academy of Performing Arts brings this Hopi proverb to life with a strong all-ages dance and movement program. You can find classes ballet, tap, pointe, jazz, and hip hop in addition to gymnastics and musical theater. The very young can participate in Angelina Ballerina, a program created by childhood movement specialist Beverly Spell. It’s designed to combine creativity with solid development, introducing those ages 3 – 6 to ballet through the Angelina Ballerina character. AAPA is also the home of No Limits, a by-audition competition team of approximately 50 motivated dancers who not only compete but also perform at community events, and attend a yearly convention.
And there’s exciting dance news for the fall: Kelly Pegler from London’s Royal Ballet School will be teaching at AAPA. She is developing a strong two-day per week ballet program from the ground up. Carol explains, “This is a big deal; we’re going to have a crackerjack teacher. She’ll bring a traditional sense of dance to our students.”
Musical growth is nurtured, here, too. Whether child or adult, beginner or advanced, you can find music instruction at AAPA geared to your interest and level. Music education starts with the internationally renowned preschool Kindermusik program. “We have an incredibly gifted preschool teacher,” adds Carol. Students ages 5 and up can take private lessons in the instrument of their choice. You don’t even have to own the instrument; AAPA can help arrange for rental or purchase of your choice of woodwinds, strings, brass, drums, guitar, or piano. Voice and musical theater instruction are both also very popular here.
Theater Arts: Where Dreams Are Born
Santa Cruz Performing Arts (SCPA) Children’s Theater Director and SPECTRA artist Ben Jammin Holck holds classes at AAPA in addition to their home at downtown’s Veteran’s Hall. “Ben has been running different programs at the studio for over a year now, and he brings a really positive energy,” says Carol. Ben shares Carol’s vision that theater arts most importantly foster students’ self-esteem, help to develop new skills, and learn to appreciate the arts. “Our goal is to bring affordable arts education to students,” he says. “We offer more scholarships and discounts than anywhere to make sure that everyone gets a chance. Theater arts is where dreams are born.” This summer, students ages 8 – 16 can participate in the main stage production of “Alice in Wonderland” that runs from June 30 – July 27. Younger children ages 5 – 7 can perform “Wonderland Tots,” geared to coincide with “Alice in Wonderland.” Plus, everyone ages 16 and up can participate in SCPA’s first adult production – Bat Boy: The Musical running July 12 – August 30.
Aptos Academy of Performing Arts currently serves about 120 students with plenty of room for more. It’s located in the Aptos Village Square , 7970 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Call them at 831.684.1800 or visit their website at http://aptosacademyofperformingarts.org for more information. You can also register for summer theater classes through the Santa Cruz Performing Arts website at http://santacruzperformingarts.org/theater/theater-classes-schedule