Vegas City ArtZ provides youngsters with plenty of opportunities to hone their craft and perform in front of live audiences with classes in dancing, singing, acting, and specialty acts.
"We're eclectic, different and probably have more fun than most other schools," says Blaine Senior who started the school with his wife Brandi.
"Our students learn to dance and sing like Broadway performers," he says with pride, then adds, "It's not because we are the best, the greatest, but because of our love and passion for the all-around performer. That's the basis of our way of training."
Vegas City ArtZ's students spend as much time learning to act as they do singing and dancing. "We call it triple-threat training," Senior explains of the combo.
"The ones who stay with the program are the ones who really love to perform," he says. "They don't just get up on stage and sing a song. In the middle of a song they will go into a dance break and then go back to singing. They use the dance, their facial expressions and movements to feel the song and really sell it."
There are no audition requirements to enroll in Vegas City ArtZ. "We feel that everyone, if they have a drive and love for what they are doing, they are going to progress. There is an audition process twice a year for some of the performances and competitions," Senior explains.
The youngest students are about age three, and although classes are an hour long, Senior keeps young children focused by dividing the class up.
"They learn motor skills," says Senior. "They learn how to march in tempo to the music, keep that tempo, to move hands and feet in unison. In tap classes they learn to tap their toe to the music, the difference between a heel and a toe and how to manipulate them."
Ministarz is a song-dance combo class for ages five through seven.
By age seven, students are encouraged to go into full techniques classes. By eight and nine years of age, they have the option to go into the On-Stage programs. "These are recreational dance and song," says Senior. "It's for those who want to have a taste of what performing in front of a live audience is all about."
Acting classes are given in theatre performance, musical theatre and drama. Terrance Williams also teaches a 12-week on-camera seminar for commercial and TV and film for youngsters to adults. Musical theatre workshops are offered during winter, spring and summer school breaks.
Dance classes include all levels and techniques including ballet, hip-hop, break dance, jazz; acrobatics, and even cheer-dance sport.
There are private classes in voice and stage blocking for singers.
All instructors, who teach the approximately 150 students enrolled, have been professional dancers or entertainers.
Magic, illusion and sleight of hand is also offered. Juggling and even trick roping lessons can be found at Vegas City ArtZ.
Classes are one-hour, once a week. Tuition: $40 for one class; $72.50 for two; $100 for three; $127.50 for four; $140 for five; and each class in excess of five is $25. Spring session begins March 19.
The 3600 sq. ft. studio (formerly the Karavinko Ballet Studio) affords two large dance rooms with viewing windows and floating floors. There is a large lobby to accommodate the students' families who come to watch classes or relax while waiting.
The team placement by audition only is $65 per month for Song & Dance Team, Dance Teams and Teen Fame Team.
Almost all students can perform in two large productions a year, plus a Christmas show. Those in performance teams do a lot more. In September, they work towards October shows; performances are themed to the season or holiday of the month.
Performances are held at conventions, corporate events, the Fremont Street Experience, Clark County park events and elsewhere. As students develop their talents some are invited to perform with Senior at paying events as well.
This season's production show is an Inter-Galactic Circus to be performed on August 20th at the Palo Verde High School Theater. "We don't do just a dance recital where there's one dance after another," says Senior. "We write and create a storyline and take the audience on a journey mixing in singing, dancing, mime clowns and specialty acts. It's production show that is fun for the audience and kids."
All students who register by April first can be part of the Inter-Galactic Circus cast. There is a recital fee of $65 (includes two tickets to the show) and a costume rental fee between $45-$85 depending upon the act. Fifty-percent of the fees are due April 1st.
Competition teams enter into dance or performance competitions such as Broadway Access, Rainbow and Star Power. They are touring companies that rent a ballroom in a hotel and rate the contestants. Celebrity-performer judges rate performers on all the basics: technique, performance, presentation, costume, use of stage, and personality.
"Of the half-dozen of more competitions that come through Vegas every year," says Senior, "we only do two or three. We do mostly show work. Our students like the live performance experience with an audience that simply wants to be entertained. The payback of applause, joy and love that pours out from an audience is much more exciting and rewarding to the kids than the personal opinion of three judges."
Senior studied with Gregory Hines and Bunny Briggs. His performances with stars such as Donald O'Conner, Nell Carter, David Cassidy, and the swing-sensation band Cherry Poppin Daddy's led Senior to national television appearances and gave him the opportunity to have his own tap act in Europe.
In Vegas, Senior has performed with The Radio City Rockettes show at the Flamingo Hilton, Country Tonite at the Old Aladdin, and with the world-famous Tap Dogs.
He has developed his own one-man show, Legendary Las Vegas. Upcoming performances are at McDonald Ranch on May 7 and 8, and Sun City's Star Bright Theater, June 11 and 12. He also impersonates Wayne Newton for corporate events.
Senior's wife Brandi is a professional dancer who has worked in The Radio City Spectacular at the Flamingo Hilton, Stars of Country Music at Whiskey Pete's in Primm, Showgirls of Magic at the San Remo, and Melinda, First Lady of Magic at the Venetian Hotel.
Blaine and Brandi believe in building kids from the inside out. "Our teachers are all warm and caring individuals. I'd rather kids walk out maybe not the best singers or dancers, but feeling that they are the best people they can be on the inside and feeling good about who they are," says Senior.
Vegas City ArtZ is located at 3400 S. Jones, suite #11, Las Vegas, NV 89146; 702) 248-0909. Office hours are 12:00 to 9 p.m. The school offers an invitation to take a class with no obligation.