Un­der the lights

At­lantic Acad­emy of Per­form­ing Arts in Summerside will fo­cus on singing, act­ing and danc­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - On­line: at­lanti­ca­cade­my­of­per­formin­garts.com

Sherri-Lee Dar­rach feels most com­fort­able when she’s on stage.

“It’s half of my life. It’s some­thing that pushes me harder than any­thing else I’ve ever done be­cause I con­stantly have to be learn­ing and grow­ing,” she said.

Dar­rach has re­cently ful­filled a long-term goal with the open­ing of At­lantic Acad­emy of Per­form­ing Arts, which has classes be­gin­ning on Jan. 16 at the Har­bourfront The­atre.

The school will fo­cus on a triple threat: act­ing, singing and danc­ing.

“To be­gin with, it will just be me teach­ing for term one. Luck­ily, I have a lot of friends who are really good at the pro­fes­sion.

“For that rea­son, I’m not go­ing to try to do this school on my own and claim to be more than I am. What I am go­ing to do is bring what I do well, which is im­prov and act­ing, and bring in other pro­fes­sion­als,” she ex­plained.

It’s im­por­tant to her to have th­ese spe­cial­ized teach­ers as it will al­low stu­dents to be bet­ter pre­pared for au­di­tions.

“If they’re try­ing to per­fect a voice piece, an opera piece, then I know I can bring in Claire Case­ley Smith, a mu­sic teacher and she was my voice teacher.

“I’ve been at those au­di­tions un­der­pre­pared and I’ve been there pre­pared, and the dif­fer­ence is huge.”

Dar­rach said the Har- bourfront is a great lo­ca­tion for her school.

“It’s a the­atre; that’s the best place for them to learn. Ev­ery­thing in its art form, you learn the re­spect for the the­atre and the pro­fes­sion­al­ism you have to have in the the­atre, and that’s im­por­tant at a young age for the chil­dren to get.”

The classes, be­sides the four- to six-year-olds, are 90 min­utes long, with one-third ded­i­cated to each dis­ci­pline.

Dar­rach, who has been the artis­tic di­rec­tor with Feast Din­ner The­atres for the past six years, plans to main­tain that po­si­tion.

She has also taught mu­si­cal the­atre camps for chil­dren. She be­lieves it builds their con­fi­dence in a safe, fun en­vi­ron­ment.

“I’m still on stage and I know what it’s like to be a per­former, and that makes me a good teacher. I’m also go­ing back to UPEI to take English and the­atre classes to fur­ther my­self. I’ll al­ways be learn­ing.”

She is elated with the open­ing of the per­form­ing arts school, as she de­cided to hold off un­til all the pieces were in place.

“It’s some­thing I have been work­ing on. I knew it would even­tu­ally be in my fu­ture be­cause I love the stage so much and I love art so much. This is the be­gin­ning of what I want to do. There are so many things I want to do with this com­pany.”

ANCELENE MACKINNON/TC ME­DIA

Sherri-Lee Dar­rach, cen­tre, holds her niece, Vianna MacDonald and stands next to her daugh­ter, Dakota. Dar­rach is open­ing At­lantic Acad­emy of Per­form­ing Arts on Jan. 16 at the Har­bourfront The­atre, with classes in act­ing, singing and danc­ing.

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