As Owner and Creative Director of Encore Experience Performing Arts, Valerie Villa, class of 1998, has made “dramatic” tracks in Western New York over the past decade. Beginning as President and Producer of not-for-profit community theatre company The Amherst Players Inc., Villa resurrected this organization over a period of seven years. In 2013, she ventured into the for-profit world, using an entrepreneur spirit in creating Encore, a place for children to “get their drama on”, with kids coming from throughout Erie, Niagara, and even Allegheny counties.
So what happens at Encore? Children, starting as young as 6, produce musicals and plays for the Amherst community. But it’s not just acting that they learn. Encore focuses on developing the entire child, striving to create independent learners who develop a sense of theatre family with their peers. The Encore rules are pillars upon which our students grow as people, not just actors:
Encouragement, not discouragement
No yelling or hurting
Collaborate with others
Open-minds to new things
Respect of people and objects
Expect great things!
What do Encore kids have to say about their dramatic experiences? “We have the freedom to express ourselves in ways we can’t other places.” “I like making new friends.” “Encore is like home to me.” Parents are equally as pleased, continuing to enroll their children for production run after production run, and give standing ovations for our performances and what we ingrain in their children. “With my daughter being very shy, Encore gave her the opportunity to come out of her shell and share her true talents.” “Encore gives my children a positive experience in the world of performing arts.” “My kids love Encore!”
Encore has produced numerous shows both during the academic year and summer including Cinderella Kids, We Are Monsters, Aladdin Kids, Seussical Jr., and is currently working on Annie Kids. They also offer classes for tweens and teens, which culminates in a performance of a comedic play and includes improvisational acting and audition preparation. A stage crew class and pit orchestra ensemble is in the works for the near future.
Besides classes, Encore offers private lessons on almost any instrument, and ARTS Camps over the school breaks. High school students have the opportunity to work as Junior Camp Counselors at any of their camps, receiving community service hours or a stipend, as well as valuable experience for college resumes and work applications.
Their motto? Give kids an experience of which they want more and to which they say “Encore!” With friendly staff, respectful peers, an engaging and structured curriculum, and a centralized location at The Harlem Road Community Center in Amherst 14226 (right near the Amherst Middle School!), you can’t go wrong with sending your child to Encore. Want more information? Visit www.encoreexperience.com, or contact Miss Valerie directly at 716.406.8942.