Arvada Center Blog

Star Students

Posted by lgirard on March 01st 2006 to Behind the Scenes

What does a former star of the hit television show 7th Heaven, a Sony Classical recording artist, a Broadway dancer, and an award-winning potter have in common? They have all studied at the Arvada Center. Over the years, the Arvada Center has had the opportunity to train these and many other talented students who have gone on to find fame in the performing and visual arts.

Taylor Caruso Kirk is one of the Center’s newest stars. At just 16 years old, she was offered a Sony Classical recording contract and has been a guest soloist, singing the national anthem at Bronco and Rockies games and other local events, and recently was a soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra. For the past several years, Taylor has trained with Arvada Center voice instructor, Judith DeRosa, who is a nationally known opera singer. Earlier in her career, Taylor also trained with another Arvada Center instructor, Su Coffey Berg, and was a student in the Center’s Musical Theater dance program.

Perhaps the most famous student of the Arvada Center is Jessica Biel, the former star of the hit television show, 7th Heaven. Jessica was Beauty in the Center’s 1993 Junior Drama Camp production of Beauty and the Beast. She has since gone on to star in several major motion pictures.

The Arvada Center’s dance program has a long history as a stepping-stone for many young dancers. Former students include Denny Paschall who is currently dancing on Broadway in Chicago, Nick Seligson-Ross who is the artistic director and choreographer for the Nicholas Andre Dance Theater based in New York, and Zina Mercil who has performed in Cats in Chicago and at the Boulder Dinner Theater and in several other local productions. She is currently dancing for L’Oreal in their national touring campaign. Several of the Center’s dance teachers, some of whom are also former students, dance professionally as well. Jennifer Aiken (principal) and Kathryn Wagner (soloist) are both members of Boulder Ballet and Marlana Dampier is with Ballet Nouveau Colorado. Several Arvada Center dance students have also received dance scholarships to major dance universities including University of Kansas, University of Utah, and Purchase College in New York.

Ceramic artist David Warren began his career in ceramics when he enrolled in a clay handbuilding class taught by Arvada Center Ceramic’s Coordinator, Bebe Alexander. He loved the class so much that he eventually closed his graphic design business in Denver and moved to Taos to open a ceramics studio with his wife who is also an artist. His ceramic work explores the sculptural possibilities of bowls, teapots, pitchers and vases, finding a place in many art collections and ceramic publications.

The Center’s ceramic department is also fortunate to have many talented students return as instructors. Megan Ratchford, who is currently the Center’s artist-in-residence, began taking ceramics classes at the Arvada Center in 1992, eventually becoming a studio assistant and instructor. Megan recently completed her BFA in ceramics at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Connie Christensen began at the Arvada Center as a student in 1990 and became a studio assistant the same year. She has been an instructor at the Arvada Center since 1997. Connie shows her work nationally and has received numerous awards for her functional ceramic pieces. Her work has been included in many publications, including 500 Bowls and 500 Teapots, both by Lark Books. Connie has a studio at the Arvada Ceramics Guild in Olde Town Arvada.

It is never too late to discover your own artistic talents. The Arvada Center offers classes in the performing arts, visual arts, and humanities in four sessions throughout the year. To request a copy of our latest class catalog, call 720-898-7200.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *