I’ve been talking about doing it for years.
This fall I’m finally
going to take an acting class.
With the lazy days of summer behind us, I figure it’s the perfect
time to take a class to stretch my creative muscles. Our region has a
huge array of enticing arts programs, and here are several that might
also whet your appetite for learning something fun and new.
at Taproot Theatre
One of my favorite memories in high school was playing the psychotically
manipulative Abigail in The Crucible. I dabbled in theater in
college and have acted in a couple of plays for children at church. Consequently,
I’m the perfect candidate for this performance class: a beginner
with no professional training but with a desire to be on stage. Having
talked about taking this acting class for several years, this fall I’m
finally going to enroll.
Taproot’s adult acting classes have been
offered since 1992. In the eight-week “Adult Showcase,” we’ll
learn about character, pacing and direction as we rehearse for a one-act
then perform it for friends and family on the main stage, with a reception
“It’s a safe environment to explore the craft
of acting; the focus is really on encouraging performers,” says
Sara Willy, Taproot’s
education director. “It’s low-key and not stressful.” On
the first day of class, students will share what they want to learn,
and Taproot staff will pick a one-act play from their repertoire based
on who turns up, so that everyone has a part. “We make it work
with the people we have,” Willy says. There’s usually a wide
range of ages enrolled.
When: Tuesdays, Oct. 5–Nov. 21, 7–10
p.m. Performance Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.
Where: Classes at Timberlake Church Ballard, 1460 NW 73rd Street, Seattle;
dress rehearsal and performance at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th Street,
Cost: $360; partial scholarships available.
Also offered: Youth classes, Professional Actor Conservatory. Contact:
Fundamentals of Filmmaking at Seattle Film Institute
As I researched this class I almost switched my fall plans to study filmmaking
rather than acting, even though I have no experience with film.
“We don’t assume any previous experience; the
only prerequisite is a passion for making films,” says Seattle
Communications Director Chris Blanchett about the eight-session introductory
class. “We do everything to demystify the process, beginning with ‘This
is how you hold the camera, and this is how you load it.’” Classes
are open to all adults; the typical age range is 18 to early 40s, Blanchett
Students have a camera in hand on the second week, and
produce a three-minute film and later a six- to nine-minute film on any
They’ll write a script, create a story board, shoot their film,
show it in class, transfer it to video and edit it on Final Cut Pro software.
Briana Chicha admits to feeling intimidated on the first day of class
at the Seattle Film Institute, but soon found out she had no reason to
be. She had experience in acting and being an extra on Hollywood sets,
and had done a little video production in high school. “I’d
always been drawn to films; I’d seen them made, but I didn’t
know how to make them,” she says. “I had a lot of fear on
my first day, but then I thought, classes are where you’re supposed
to learn.” She found the accompanying textbook very easy to understand.
Thursdays, Oct. 14–Dec. 10 (no class Nov. 25), 7–10
Where: Seattle Film Institute, 1709 23rd Avenue, Seattle.Cost: $545,
includes textbook and use of cameras and equipment.
Other part-time classes for beginners with no prerequisites: “Introduction
to Digital Video,” “Nuts and Bolts of Screenwriting,” “The
Language of Film,” “Animation and Effects.”
Contact: 206-568-4387; www.seattlefilminstitute.com.
Creative Writing at Richard Hugo House
Here is another temptation for me: The 44 classes on Richard Hugo House’s
fall schedule are enough to make anyone who loves writing drool. Students
can explore anything from memoirs and travel writing to short stories,
poems and screenplays, with forays into editing, inspiration from experimental
films, interviewing and marketing.
Many of the six-week classes are great
for beginners. Marketing and Program Manager Brian McGuigan recommends “Giving
the Essay a Try,” “A
Fish Hook An Open Eye: Creating Tension in Poetry,” “Roughing
It: Write a Draft of Your Book in Just Six Weeks” and “Exploring
the Esoteric: Borrowing from Everything to Write New Work.”
The word “essay” actually means “to
Wilson Diehl, a longtime Richard Hugo House teacher who will teach the
essay class this fall. “There’s a wide range of abilities
and comfort levels in my classes — usually one person applying
for a Master of Fine Arts degree and some who’ve never taken a
writing class,” she says. Age range is 18 to 80. In her recently
completed summer class on memoirs, she had a student who had never shown
her work to anyone else but gradually felt brave enough to share in her
small group. “I do a lot of brainstorming activities in my classes,
so that no one’s confronted with a blank page,” Diehl says.
Hardy will be teaching “Creating Tension in Poetry,” her
first class at Richard Hugo House. “Students can expect a collegial,
warm, student-centered environment where, like the old TV commercials
used to say, reading is fun,” she says. “One of the cool
things about ‘the House’ is its ‘come-one, come-all’ approach.”
Six-week classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays beginning
Oct. 5–9 and ending Nov. 9–13; times vary.
Where: Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Avenue, Seattle.
Cost for six-week classes: $230 (members $207).
Also offered: Ten-week master classes, one-day classes.
Contact: 206-322-7030; www.hugohouse.org.
Classes at Velocity Dance Center
Velocity provides drop-in classes — designed for beginner, intermediate,
advanced or “all level” dancers — so I decided to try
a session of “Beginning Modern Dance.” I hadn’t done
modern dance since high school, but it wasn’t difficult to fit
in with the warm-up exercises and the initial movements following the
enthusiastic encouragement of teacher Kristin Hapke. We had to know a
few words, like “plié,” “relevé,” “first
position” and “second position,” but it was easy to
pick up. I had more trouble following the steps of the longer piece — it
turned out this was the third class of a three-session series in preparation
for a performance at the annual Strictly Seattle festival.
A live violinist
accompanied the 20 women and one man in the class. Most participants
were in the 20- to 30-year-old range, but a few of us were
older. No one was in terrible shape, and some, like the teacher, were
incredibly lithe and flexible. Still, Hapke emphasized that all are welcome
in her modern and contemporary dance classes and don’t have to
have prior experience. At the same time, there’s room to move up
to more advanced classes when students are ready.
Ballet” classes, taught by Ricki Mason, are
open to those with little or no ballet training. “It’s a
perfect class for actors, social dancers, burlesque performers and people
who think moving around to music is fun,” he writes in his class
When: Fall quarter begins in early September; daytime and
evening classes are offered daily.
Where: 1621 12th Avenue, Seattle.
Cost: $10 for one-hour classes; $15 for 1.5 hour classes (most are
Also offered: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Bottom Heavy Funk, Hip-Hop, Body
Rock, West African Dance and others.
Contact: 206-325-8773; www.velocitydancecenter.org.
Performance Ensembles at MusicWorks Northwest
I don’t know a G from a C, off-key from on-key,
so music lessons are not something I’d consider for myself. But
if I were musical, this nonprofit community music school would be a great
In the labyrinth of studios and performance spaces, beginning
to advanced students of all ages can take private or semiprivate lessons
jazz, rock or ethnic music on a wide range of instruments and in voice.
Most of the group lessons are for children, but there’s a “Voice
Class for Teens and Adults.”
Once older teens and adults have three years’ experience in any
kind of music they can join one of nine performance ensembles, ranging
from various jazz combos to the “Vivace Flute Choir” and
the “Metallica Cello Band.” Ten-week sessions are held every
I watched a rehearsal of the “Brazilian Jazz Combo,” led
by charismatic, internationally known musician Eduardo Mendonca. He led
with a combination of demonstrations, vocalized beats, fascinating asides
about Brazilian musicians and lots of collaboration and “noodling” with
the four male and three female members of the combo.
Brandi Ledferd plays
the vibraphone and has been a member of the ensemble for more than two
years. She especially enjoys the fact that the group
performs at malls, the Center House, correction centers and nursing homes. “If
we don’t think we’re ready, Eduardo pushes us to get out
there,” she says.
Lindsey Dabek joined the ensemble as a vocalist
in February, saying she has always loved Brazilian music. She’s
learned Portuguese to sing the lyrics.
When: Fall quarter for private
lessons begins Aug. 30, but they can be scheduled to begin at any time;
fall session performance ensembles begin
in late September; various evening times.
Where: MusicWorks Northwest, 14360 SE Eastgate Way, Suite 102, Bellevue.
Cost: Private lessons, 30, 45 or 60 minutes, $38-$68/month; ensembles
$230 for 10 weeks.
Contact: 425-644-0988; www.musicworksnw.org.
Other Enticing Programs
American Dance Institute
8001 & 8007 Greenwood Ave N
Offers a full range of classes from ballet and jazz to hip-hop and Irish
915 E Pine Street
Sign up alone or with a friend to learn East and West Coast swing, salsa,
Argentine tango or Lindy hop.
eXit SPACE School of Dance
414 NE 72nd Street
Classes include ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and hip-hop for students of
all ages and levels.
2222 Second Avenue, Suite 200
Resettled in Belltown after the move from Odd Fellows Hall on Capitol
Hill, this venerable organization offers classes, performances, workshops
and guest artist programs.
Unexpected Productions’ Improv School
1428 Post Alley
Pike Place Market in Seattle
Whether you are looking to perform on stage or to hone your public presentation
skills, you can expect to have fun at the largest school for improvisation
in the Northwest.
Seattle Drum School
12510 15th Avenue NE
1010 S Bailey
Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood
Offers instruction for beginners and professionals in drums, guitar,
bass and other instruments.
Music Works Northwest
14360 SE Eastgate Way, Suite 102
In addition to a strong youth program, this nonprofit school offers opportunities
for adults in private and group lessons.
Wenda Reed is a Seattle-area writer and dabbler.
....Or make fine art
In Seattle, the art-addicted or art-curious are lucky.
Not only are there places to pursue college art degrees, but there’s a wealth of nonprofit
studio art schools where anyone at any level can make art. You can take
one class and call it quits, or you can stay forever. Here are several
schools to check out this fall if you’re looking for an outlet
for your inner artist.
PRATT FINE ARTS CENTER
1902 S Main Street, Seattle
Of the area’s nonprofit studio art centers, Pratt Fine Arts Center
is the largest in scope and square footage. Situated in Seattle’s
Central District since 1976, Pratt’s scruffy exterior belies its
15,000 square feet of studio space packed with some of the most sophisticated
art equipment in the area. Students can blow glass, cast bronze, weld
steel, carve stone, fabricate jewelry, create prints, and draw or paint.
GAGE ACADEMY OF ART
1501 10th Avenue E #101, Seattle
Walk into the Gage Academy and you’ll know you are someplace special.
The hushed halls, paired with the school’s commitment to foundational
instruction, create an almost monastic feel. At Gage, you can learn drawing,
painting and sculpture, and while the emphasis is on realism, abstract
art is equally respected.
PHOTOGRAPHIC CENTER NORTHWEST
900 12th Avenue, Seattle
Photographic Center Northwest is the only independent art school in our
region dedicated entirely to photography. Just south of Capitol Hill,
PCNW houses facilities equipped for both film and digital photography.
Shooting studios, multiple darkrooms, a digital lab with a network of
PCs and high-end printers, a viewing room with special lighting and even
a library invite study, learning and exploration.
226 1st Avenue N, Seattle
SEWARD PARK CLAY STUDIO
5900 Lake Washington Blvd. S, Seattle
Clay is irresistible. Just try to walk by a hunk of wet clay without
doing something — punching it, poking it, or grabbing a little
wad and rolling it into a cold, wet ball. At both Pottery Northwest and
Seward Park Clay Studio you can get your hands dirty — literally — and
indulge your ceramic fantasies. At both studios you can learn to hand-build
clay or “throw” it on a wheel to make anything from plates
and bowls to full-sized figurative pieces and abstract sculptures. Artist-in-Residence
programs afford students exposure to, and interaction with, artists on
a professional track.
KIRKLAND ARTS CENTER
620 Market Street, Kirkland
Kirkland Arts Center offers over 250 introductory to advanced courses
and workshops in ceramics, printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture,
glass and more. Housed in the oldest building in the City of Kirkland,
this centrally located facility tenders natural light, views of Lake
Washington, and all the charm and quirks of an old home. The center’s
vibrant art gallery offers some of the most exciting contemporary art
shows on the Eastside.
Adapted from “Making Room for Making Art” by
Karen Rudd, originally published in Seattle Woman’s September 2007
issue. Click here to read
the original article online,
©Copyright 2010, Caliope Publishing Company