MAKING THE RIGHT COLLEGE DECISION

It's probably the biggest investment decision you will ever make in your life next to buying a house. You've done everything right. You've parlayed your high school education into a portfolio of dreams. You worked hard, found a focus and passion for your future, auditioned for your dream schools and now the acceptances are in and the decision must be made. First, take the pressure off. You've been looked at and evaluated by every college program to which you applied. That means in their professional opinion, based on years of experience at their institution, you are deemed to have the talent and ability to make it through their department and graduate! Now you get to make your decision. You get to decide where YOU want to spend the next four years. It's not as hard as it seems. There's a still small voice talking to you. No, it's not your friends, or teachers, or even your parents. It's that excited feeling you have when you think about the letter you received welcoming you. It's the dreams you have for yourself. It's that vision you get when you close your eyes and think of yourself on that particular campus, on their stages, or...

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO START MY COLLEGE SEARCH?

College Tour

If you're asking the question, it's time to do it! It's really never to early to begin to think and plan for the future. Gathering information is the first step. Think of it a little bit like planting a garden. First you till the soil. Then you sow seeds. Next you weed out unwanted growth and then you reap the harvest! Gathering information and breaking it down is like tilling the soil. You can begin that as early as freshman or sophomore year in high school. When you think about it, it's so easy to do and fun. You can start by asking older friends and family about their college experience. Get to know universities and where they're located. Find out about their performing arts and digital media departments. Keep a journal and a file about the things that interest you. Figure out what part of the country you think you'd be happiest living in. Go online and visit CollegeWeekLive which is an excellent source of general college admissions information. You can even take a virtual tour of most universities. You'll want to start with this general information because selecting the right theater, film, or digital media program is more than...

STEM. Or, The Day They Misspelled STEAM!

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. STEM an important trend in education. Like any trend, many people and companies are jumping onto the band wagon. Is this bad? Certainly not. Is it wrong? Most definitely. There are many who feel an all-out educational push in our schools will help America reclaim its place as the world leader in each if not all of those fields for our future generations. Something that seems to be painfully missing is the all important "A." A for Arts. Performing and visual arts. Perhaps the best way to define it is the nurturing and encouragement of creativity. Why is this important? The STEM Coalition has done an outstanding job of creating a sense of urgency in building programs in school districts across the nation. Many districts have found that the best way to jump start STEM is to borrow budget by cutting the arts in their schools. But, here's the question. Once all those scientists, techies, engineers, and mathematicians perfect their skills what are they going to do with it? Who's going to C R E A T E the NEXT...? Don't we need the "out-of-the-box" thinker to see beyond what is here to...there? That's where the Arts come...

Rumer and Val in the Number 1 Spot

Hard work, determination, grace, poise, humility. Those are the words that describe Rumer Willis and those very characteristics are what makes us proud to call Rumer an alumus of US Performing Arts. Rumer isn't just a celebrity she is an artist. An artist who understands her craft and 'stays in the game' continually stretching herself and reaching for higher goals to conquer. Together with Valentin Chmerkovskiy America is getting to know a very special dance team. Dancing With the Stars has allowed this duo to show us their best work week after week. Rumer and Val have earned the top position on The Leader Board this week and I hope you'll join me in voting for them. Cast your vote by dialing 1-855-234-5610. Be patient...because of their popularity it often rings busy but they need your vote to stay on top and you'll be glad you cast it.

Are You the Artist of My Dreams?

Often when explaining to people what I do I will say that I head a company that trains the next generation of artists. Recently somebody asked me to define what an artist is to me. That certainly gave me pause to reflect on my words. I have a concept of what I think makes an artist, and by the way that isn't a word I throw around loosely. I realize that if I am embracing the phrase then I have to be able to convey my definition of the word. An artist is many things to many people and Webster gives us many definitions. The person I was speaking with today is a visual artist. In fact, a scenic designer. To him an artist is and will always be someone who is extraordinary as a painter or sculptor, someone who has an idea or image in her head and can use her hands to convey that image in a visual medium so that others can share it. My friend's definition notwithstanding is not the only definition of an artist. Every synonym in Roget's Thesaurus has to do with being a performer: actor, singer, dancer, musician, and so on. I would...

DON’T FORGET THE LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION!

Congratulations to those of you who found your college path early, were motivated to seek Early Admission and have already heard of your acceptance. You can now sit back and encourage your friends through their application...and waiting process. As daunting as the application process can be, I think waiting for the responses is even more difficult. My word of advice on college applications is the same I give to auditioning actors. Give it your best and then let it go! I'm sure that those of you who are college-bound seniors are well into the process and probably have completed most of the applications you are planning to submit. For those of you who are still procrastinating, now is the time to get organized and get the job done! However, before you can truly "let it go" you have to make sure you've covered all your bases. Over the years I have found that one of the most overlooked parts of the application and perhaps one of the most important is the Letter of Recommendation. For those colleges that request letters, and therefore will read them, those letters could be the difference of an acceptance or a denial. Often students are so focused...

Evergreens…and Good Friends

In show business the phrase "evergreen" is used to mean a production with great audience appeal that can be brought out year after year. Some become an "evergreen" by accident and some are produced to hopefully fulfill that achievement. One that comes quickly to mind as a happy accident is The Wizard of Oz. It is not only a yearly event but it is often shown several times a year in celebration of other holidays. Of course the symbolism of the evergreen is the wonderful fir tree that never loses its leaves (needles) and is cherished by all. Remember the story of The Little Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson? The greenest of evergreens in the show business world is probably The Nutcracker Ballet. This week there are thousands of Nutcrackers being presented in the United States alone. Every dance school, community and regional ballet company present their version of The Nutcracker. Nearly every professional company in the world presents their choreographed "original" of The Nutcracker Ballet. Why? Because not only is it a cherished story and a family holiday tradition, but it is an almost guaranteed box office bonanza. The San Francisco...

Scholarship Opportunity

Over the years I have had the privilege to work with The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and its scholarship students. I can not speak highly enough of this wonderful organization and the opportunities it gives students to follow their dreams. This might be just the opportunity you need to succeed in taking steps towards fulfilling your dreams. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation seeks high-achieving high school seniors with financial need for its College Scholarship Program, the largest undergraduate scholarship in the nation. Selected students receive college planning support, ongoing advising, and up to $40,000 per year to attend a four-year accredited undergraduate institution. If you know students who stand out for their exceptional academic abilities and achievements, persistence, leadership, and desire to help others, please encourage them to visit the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s website to learn more. http://hubs.ly/y069kG0 The application closes on November 4.

College Auditions: Shed the FEAR and Find the FUN

College auditions...TV pilot season auditions...Broadway auditions...The list goes on.'Tis the season.In fact, I think the rest of the lyric is 'tis the season to be jolly! "How can I be jolly," you say? "There is so much riding on this audition!" Let's shed the stress and fear so that you can go forward to nail that audition. The basics of the audition are the same no matter where or who you are auditioning for but for right now let's talk about the college audition. The college adjudicator is looking for something very different than a casting director. Of course they want to see that you have talent but even more important they want to see your potential as an actor, dancer or musical theater performer. They want to know YOU. They want to know that you will be able to fold into their existing student body while adding your own unique stamp. They want to know that you have what it takes to balance an intense theater or dance curriculum and performances with your other studies and social life and still graduate on time. And they have to find all this out in about five minutes! By now some of you have...

RIP Rob, Laurie and Robin

The family moved into the neighborhood with three teenaged kids. Fresh from Detroit, by way of Chicago, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Rob was handsome, Laurie gorgeous and the kids funny and smart. Even though their children were ten years older than ours, the friendship was quick and easy. Laurie often exchanged stories of her children's accomplishments and her worry over her son Robin who seemed so shy and reclusive. I in turn bragged about my three children and pointed out my son's drive to become a top nationally ranked tennis player. Laurie was a Southern Belle with stories that regaled one and all. A former model, she was both beautiful and generous. Her sense of humor was unparalleled and there is no doubt that is where Robin got his. An afternoon with Laurie left my sides hurting from laughter. She was also very competitive. One of her favorite tennis partners was my then young son, Craig. The only way Laurie could beat this 12 year old was to call the lines in her favor. He knew she cheated. She knew she cheated. But it was too much fun playing with Laurie to complain. Rob was a dapper, very proper,...