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Performance art 'summer camp' for kids at Historic Holmes Theatre

Summer's almost here, and Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre is planning a whirlwind of activity to keep local kids busy once school is out.

Starting June 5, the theater will be hosting a series of acting, dance and piano performance workshops geared toward children in grades K-6.

Local arts instructors Kathryn Knuttila and Mari Radke will teach these workshops, titled "The Art of Performance."

Knuttila, a Detroit Lakes High School graduate who will be starting college in the fall, already has several years of acting and piano teaching experience behind her.

"I've been acting and playing piano since I was 5 years old," she says, adding that she also has quite a bit of piano teaching experience. "I teach 16 students now."

Knuttila first approached Holmes Theatre administrator Amy Stoller Stearns back in March, to indicate her interest in teaching some summer classes in acting and piano performance, which she calls "my two passions."

Around the same time, Radke came to Stearns with the idea of teaching some summer dance workshops. Stearns suggested they work together.

"She's actually my neighbor," Knuttila says of Radke, who teaches dance at Summit Dance School in Detroit Lakes. "We've known each other forever. When Amy suggested that we work together, I said it was a great idea."

"I see Amy all the time," Radke says. "I do some tap classes there, I do my recitals (for Summit Dance) there. When Amy said Kathryn was going to do some acting and piano classes, I said you need to have dance too."

And so a partnership was born. Though Knuttila and Radke have built their class curriculums separately, there are some similarities. Each of the five days of classes, whether in dance, acting or piano, will be built around a theme, and each will focus on the basics.

Knuttila pointed out, however, that these piano classes are not intended to teach the basics of playing piano; rather, they will teach the basics of piano performance -- as in, how to perform in front of an audience.

"It's not piano lessons," she says. "Each of them will be asked to have a piece of music ready (i.e., memorized) to perform. We'll spend the week learning how to get on stage and perform it."

The acting classes, likewise, will begin with the students voting on an ensemble skit that they spend the next five days learning how to perform.

The skits won't have a lot of lines to memorize; rather, Knuttila wants to focus her efforts on teaching her young students how to present themselves on stage, backstage etiquette and other performance basics.

"It'll be intense, but it will also be fun for the kids," she promises.

Radke, meanwhile, plans to introduce her students to a wide variety of dance styles, starting with the basic movements and working their way through the popular dances of the 1920s, '30s, '40s and up through the present.

"I will also bring in a little tap, a little ballet, a little jazz, so they have a little taste of all the different kinds of dance," she says. "I wanted to keep it fun."

Each workshop will culminate in a live talent show where the young students will have an opportunity to showcase what they have learned, Knuttila adds.

Though the week-long workshops will all be held on the same dates, June 5-9 and 12-16, there will be more than one session of each per day, so those who wish to do so may take part in one, two or all three classes, Stearns says. There will be a maximum of 10-12 students per class, so sign up early, she adds.

Participation in one class will be $60; two classes, $100; and all three, $150. As with all workshops and activities at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, there are scholarships available, according to Stearns.

Acting performance classes will be held at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily, June 5-9 and 12-16. Piano performance classes will run on the same days, at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., while dance classes will be held at 9:45 and 11:45 a.m.

And that's just the beginning. During the week of June 19-23, the Missoula Children's Theatre will return to Detroit Lakes for another weeklong residency, culminating in two live public performances of the play, "Little Red Riding Hood." This workshop is open to children who will be entering grades 1-12 next fall. Performances will be June 23 at 7 p.m. and June 24 at 10:30 a.m.

Cost of participation in this workshop is $45 per student (some scholarships are available).

For more information on these and other summer shows at the Historic Holmes Theatre, call the theater box office at 218-844-SHOW (7469).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454