With Somebody’s School of Dance in almost every strip mall and as home to a renowned school of painting, you would hardly think
The brother-and-sister team of Fred Munzert and Lisa Munzert Bonacquisti saw things differently when they decided to open
“We looked at the growth of
The pair renovated an old warehouse into three dance studios, eight private music studios, classrooms, a black-box theater space and school store, and it’s here that PCA students find classes in all disciplines at all levels.
“It’s unique to have all the arts—fine arts, performing arts—together,” Bonacquisti says. “It creates a synergy between the arts,” adds Munzert. Students at PCA interact on projects. Recitals can include dancers, twirlers, musicians and singers performing one after the other or, sometimes, together.
Of course, before a recital comes class time. PCA’s students participate in dance including tap, jazz, ballet, baton and hip-hop, from introductory classes for three- and four-year-olds to the audition-only competitive dance troupe. Private instruction is available in piano, voice, guitar, drum, brass, woodwinds, music theory and composition, plus group classes for beginners in guitar, drum and music theory. The center also has art discovery classes for three age groups, ranging from 3- to 16-year olds, and a series of theater arts classes that cover everything from improvisation to makeup application.
When they say all arts under one roof, they mean all the arts. The inclusive approach makes things easier for families. Instead of carting kids to different lessons all over town, parents can go to one location and find a variety of activities, and a friendly waiting room for any impatient siblings.
PCA’s faculty also appreciates the variety. “Once you get involved in one thing there, there is so much else to do,” says Missy Vestal, who teaches movement and art classes, performs in many PCA shows and hosts themed birthday parties. “When in one place, you can sing your heart out, walk 10 steps and dance, turn around and design a show. It’s pretty special. There’s nothing I want to do there that I can’t do. I love that they’ll let me try anything.” That energy and enthusiasm keeps classes exciting for the students, too.
PCA’s Main Stage Season includes four shows that combine a cast of professional actors with students and community members, creating a learning environment for all involved and giving students the experience of working with seasoned performers.
Last season included adult-themed offerings like “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” and an original Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre play, plus child-friendly shows “Annie” and “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” based on the 1970s TV series. Theater workshops include instruction from a staff director and a performance during the last week of class. Last fall, 4- to 7-year-olds presented “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians” and 6- to 17-year-olds performed in “Music Man Junior” in March.
One of PCA’s more popular classes has been the
The center offers classical training in all disciplines, but also wants to react to what’s happening in the arts world today. “It makes it real to the younger student who may quit because they don’t understand the classic form,” he says.
Reacting to student need is another PCA hallmark. One of the faculty’s goals is to help each student figure out what he or she wants. Even for those who are just enjoying themselves, a background in the arts gives them self-esteem, discipline and the ability to present themselves well. But, as Bonacquisti says, “We have the opportunity to take students from the area and get them to
Munzert cites PCA’s organizational structure as another reason it is able to adapt. Unlike many arts schools,
“There is a trend for arts organizations to set up [limited liability companies] as opposed to non-profits,” Munzert says, in part because arts funding isn’t as available as it once was. In addition to class fees, PCA’s funding comes from ticket sales and sponsors. Without a board of directors to answer to and grants to apply for, PCA can quickly implement new programs and classes.
More than 800 students have passed through the doors since PCA opened. Munzert and Bonacquisti may have different specialties and different personalities, but they have enormous respect for one another.
Bonacquisti, a trained emergency room nurse, is a champion baton twirler, gymnast and dancer who wore the crown as the 1990 Miss
Between the two, there’s a wide expertise in arts education. “They both have strong backgrounds in what they do,” Vestal says. “It’s obviously an equal team.” And neither hesitates to point out the other’s strengths. Their easy rapport doesn’t hurt, either.
“This is much larger than the two of us now,” Munzert says. “We just come in each day and try to catch the wave.”
PCA’s 7,500-square-foot facility is at DT