One heart for all arts bringing harmony to learning
by Pam Windsor
When Kate Butler opened Concordia Arts Academy, she wanted to create a place where anyone ages 3 to 18 could train in a variety of performing arts.
While some places might focus on just dance, music, or theater, Butler wanted to bring all of them under one roof.
“Our slogan is ‘One heart for all arts,’” she explains. “And Concordia is a Latin word that means unity, everything in harmony, all-encompassing. I wanted to create a place where whether you do ballet or take guitar or do acting or take an art class, you feel equal. I emphasize to the kids that come that we’re all equal no matter what our gift or talent is, everybody’s different.”
The academy has highly-trained instructors that teach music, theater, dance, aerial silks, and visual arts. Kids are encouraged to work hard and strive for excellence, but at the same time, have fun doing it. They also learn important relationship skills.
“The kids here are amazing and treat each other with respect,” Butler says. “Backstage, there can sometimes be drama at dance shows, but we don’t have a stitch of it here. We recently had four very busy dance shows, and a lot of my older girls were in all of the shows. The teachers talked about how nice they were to each other, helping with quick changes and so forth. And that is just as important to me as the technique and everything else they’re learning.”
Her passion for the arts began at an early age while growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“I started dancing when I was three and danced all the way through high school,” she recalls. “I even did semi-professional theater, which involved dancing, singing, and acting. I also took piano, played violin and orchestra, played the flute, and was in the Army band (as a Reservist) while I was in college studying for my musical degree.”
She graduated with a Vocal Performance Degree with a Piano minor and moved to Nashville to pursue music. She even had her own band for a while. A gifted songwriter, Butler has had 40 of her songs placed on TV and in film.
Her desire to share her love of the arts comes from knowing the confidence it gave her growing up, and seeing the effect performing arts classes have on children and teenagers who come through Concordia. “We had a little girl who came to us at age three. She was so shy she wouldn’t hardly talk, she kind of hid behind her mom, and we did a Mini-musicians type thing with her. (Concordia offers a number of classes for Minis, which are the younger aged kids.) She’s almost 12 now, dancing in every genre in musical theater, very extroverted because she got the confidence from the stage and encouragement from her teachers and everyone around her.”
Concordia also has its own performance venue, which allows the kids extra time to practice before a show and become more comfortable on stage.
Butler believes everyone can benefit from the arts.
“I feel like no matter what they do in life, whether they’re going to be a doctor, a teacher, a nanny, a clerk, or a performer, no matter what they’re doing to do, they’re going to do it better if they’ve taken performing arts classes.”
Registration is currently underway for summer arts classes and camps. For more information, visit www.concordiaartsacademy.com and click on Franklin Berry Farms location.