Perry-Mansfield preps for summer

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— Before County Road 36 turns into a dirt road and just after the breeding ground for brown fuzzy cows, nationally recognized performing artists and soon-to-be artists dance, sing and act at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.

Less than a mile off the road, stars will be born under Steamboat's bright light with the help of performers who have studied at some of the most nationally acclaimed dance studios, opera houses and Broadway productions.

Every summer, the school provides a learning camp for local residents and people around the world. Tina Harlow, program director at Perry-Mansfield, said anyone can come to the summer camp, but campers should be aware that these performing arts classes are extremely intense.

"This is my third summer season and enrollment seems to climb higher and higher," Harlow said. "We did close out some sessions because they were full and we're anticipating that for this year."

While also taking applications for the summer camp, Perry-Mansfield is taking scholarship applications for those with a financial hardship.

Scholarships for the $300 to $1,110 tuition are based on talent, but the school also takes into account financial need, Harlow said. Last year, about 20 scholarships between $100 and a full-ride were given to students.

Scholarship auditions on April 14, will test students in dance, theater and musical theater, an area Harlow said is the most popular.

"The community is very important to us, especially our day students," Harlow said of the local students who attend the camp but do not spend the night. "To accommodate them better, the rates are lower because we want to encourage them to come."

Residential students are those who reside at the school for the duration of their camp session.

Mary Jarchow, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, said she's been learning from experienced teachers at Perry-Mansfield for about six years and can't say enough about her experience there.

"It definitely started my creative juices in theater. Without it, I might not know that I want to go into theater, film or acting," Jarchow said.

Meeting different directors and performers from New York has sparked her interest in attending college there after her last year of high school.

The high school/college session is a six-week course designed for 10th-grade to college-level students. The objective of this course is to give serious students with a strong interest in studying the arts an opportunity to be cast in theater, dance and musical productions.

College credit can be obtained through the University of Colorado at Denver and at Boulder for the high school/college student courses.

The high school/college session is from June 15 through July 29. The residential program is $3,200. The day program varies: 1 class is $410; 2 classes is $710; 3 classes is $940; 4 or more classes is $1,110.

The junior/intermediate four-week session, designed for fifth to ninth grades, is to encourage young people to explore their talents in a short play or dance production.

The junior/intermediate session is from June 10 through July 7; and July 9 through Aug. 4 - there are two sessions. The Residential program is $2,730. The day program: 1 class is $280; 2 classes is $480; 3 classes is $640; 4 or more classes is $760.

"Every session culminates in a performance. Every student is cast who wants to be," Harlow said.

A discovery camp, either one or two weeks long, is designed for students ages 8 to 11 who will take classes in theater, dance, music, creative writing and fine arts. They also will take part in typical camp activities: horseback riding, craft-making, hiking and field trips before their final performance at the end of the camp session.

The residential one-week course is $695, and the two-week residential course is $1,260. The day one-week course is $300, and the two-week day course is $540.

A one-week equestrian camp also is available for students ages 8 to 11 who want to learn about horsemanship and riding etiquette in English style and Western.

The residential equestrian course is $740, and the day course is $350.

Many of the recruited staff members are professional performers, highly recognizable in the artistic world. This summer, Linda Kent, a Julliard School dance faculty member, will be one of the 80 to 100 staff members who will bring her expertise to Perry-Mansfield for student training.

Jarchow said she typically takes about four classes in the six-week session and has to practice her performing skills throughout the year when camp is not in session.

"I've definitely been spoiled by Perry-Mansfield," Jarchow said. "The instructors make the students bring out the best they have to offer."

Perry-Mansfield is the oldest continuously operating performing arts school in the nation, offering intense multi-week programs for students ages 8 through college seniors.

Since 1913, Perry-Mansfield has helped produce many well-recognized performers such as Sammy Bayes, Jessica Biel, Dustin Hoffman, Merce Cunningham and Lee Remick.

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