Magic is happening at Perry-Mansfield this summer |

Magic is happening at Perry-Mansfield this summer

— Magic is happening this summer at Perry-Mansfield Arts School and Camp. This is the magic of the creative spirit, of imagination, learning, inspiration, students discovering self-confidence and new abilities to create and perform.

Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield, fondly known as “the Ladies,” founded Perry-Mansfield 103 years ago to promote this creativity, this growth, not just in the individual grasp of dance and theater but also in the human spirit and in youth.

“Perry-Mansfield changed my life,” is what our alumni tell us. Perry-Mansfield gives students the tools to explore ideas, the freedom to test the boundaries of their craft and the support from our faculty and staff to grow individually.

Our low student to faculty ratio of eight-to-one allows for students to gain mentors, for individual attention and for opportunities to create, collaborate and even choreograph dances. Every summer, we watch students arrive here shy and unsure of what they can do and leave confident and more assured.

Students may or may not advance in their craft to the professional ranks, but their summers at Perry-Mansfield feed their confidence, their joy in arts and music, their desire to create and their inspiration from and with nature

Perry-Mansfield is one of only a handful of programs in the country that promotes an interdisciplinary study of the performing arts. Our dance students are encouraged to take acting and our acting students dance thus broadening their skill set and performance abilities. As a result, all our students grow as complete artists and are more marketable in their craft.

Dance students also are interdisciplinary. All study ballet, modern and jazz to gain stronger versatility and techniques. Our dance studios do not have mirrors because, as the Ladies determined, students should have the opportunity to train as an ensemble, and from their teachers, rather than focusing individually to perfect a move.

Perry-Mansfield is also noteworthy for its emphasis on the creation of new work. Each summer, our nationally known dance faculty choreograph original dances for our students, and our renowned theater and musical theater faculty lead improvisation, songwriting, creative writing and skits that lead to new works performed by our students throughout the summer.

Three-time Emmy-nominated choreographer and dancer Stacey Tookey of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame noted this June that Perry-Mansfield offers the rare opportunity for artists to simply create and be surrounded by what she termed the most inspiring place she’s worked in the world.

Indeed, Tookey did create while she was here — four spectacular new works for her Still Motion Dance Company (which had been featured at the famed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival last summer) and one for our college-level professional dance students during the course of only 10 days.

Steamboat Springs and Routt County saved Perry-Mansfield in 1993 from being sold and redeveloped. Because of our community’s generosity, when students come here now, they perform on the same stages and stay in the same cabins as the dancers that founded modern dance in the United States and the actors at the forefront of the development of social realism.

Those famed actors, dancers and choreographers — Dustin Hoffmann, Robert Battle, Agnes DeMille, Merce Cunningham, Jessica Biel, Julie Harris, Rue McClanahan, Barney Brown, Doris Humphrey, Camille A. Brown, Jose Limon, Stephen Schwartz and Mandy Moore among many others — are a part of our history.

Our students and renowned faculty today are still making history. We welcome you to visit us this summer and watch them in action. Come “home” to Perry-Mansfield.

Nancy Engelken is executive director of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.

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