New Milford performing arts studio gears up for fall opening
NEW MILFORD — The performing arts are alive and well at FineLine Theatre Arts in New Milford, despite the limitations in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The studio-school is forging ahead for the fall with a hybrid of online and in-person classes.
Offerings include acrobatics, acting and musical theater, ballet, jazz, modern tap, theater dance and vocal performance.
FineLine has also announced a new program, Creative Assistance for Parents, which is geared toward children in grades K-5 whose parents work
The studio has also announced a new tenant, Bearclaw’s Academy of Music, and the hiring of Ocean Severini as the studio’s new director of dance.
“Without the support of our New Milford community, we would not be opening registration for our fall trimester,” said Elizabeth Parkinson, who owns the studio with her husband, Scott Wise.
The studio, following CDC and Connecticut COVID-19 guidelines, will offer a hybrid of online and in-person classes, workshops and performances, and a Zoom-only option for students who want to work from home.
The studio offered online Zoom classes this past spring and summer. Parkinson said the studio maintained its students and will so again this fall, based on registration thus far.
“FineLine is (Ana’s) second home, truly,” said Barbara Flood of Sherman, whose daughter, Ana, began taking classes at age 3 when FineLine first opened in 2006. “Scott and Liz and all of the instructors have helped me raise Ana.”
Those who would like more information about CAP should email email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.finelinetheatrearts.com.
Ana began taking a creative movement class and eventually advanced into the ballet program.
“It’s much more than just dance over there,” Flood said, citing the nurturing environment and steadfast support provided by the instructors.
Offering an inviting, safe and supportive space is one of FineLine’s goals and remains so during the pandemic. That’s why Parkinson and Wise decided to create CAP for the fall. It will run daily Sept. 8 from Nov. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for elementary school students.
The program, to be held at FineLine, will offer support for a child’s current curriculum provided by their school district “in a safe, supportive, and disciplined environment while still encouraging your child to be an independent learner and thinker,” Parkinson said.
Two pods of five students each will be offered.
Leland Williams, director of drama, who has experience teaching privately and at Shepaug Valley School, and Mary Mercer, studio administrator, who has more than 15 years working in special education, will facilitate the program.
“If you want to keep (your child) safe, keep them home from school, this gives parents — a working parent — an option to send them to FineLine,” Parkinson said.
New Milford resident Nicole Henderson’s three children — ages 16, 13 and 9 — have taken classes at FineLine since they were each about 4 years old.
“I love the support they get ... and the discipline,” she said.
Henderson said FineLine’s online classes especially helped her youngest daughter this spring and summer during the pandemic because the classes provided “a connection” to others.
Her older children have phones and are able to chat more regularly with friends. Her younger daughter doesn’t have that opportunity as easily, but the FineLine classes filled in the gap.
Parkinson said the studio is thinking ahead to performance opportunities in light of the pandemic.
“‘The Nutcracker’ tradition will live on in a filmed studio version that families will be able to enjoy live-streamed from the home,” Parkinson said.
Severini and Williams will work together on the performance.
Severini replaces Kerry Gallagher, who will continue teaching at FineLine but will also be pursuing a career in nursing.
“We are all so proud of Kerry and wish her much success,” Parkinson said.
Severini was born in Connecticut and received her formal ballet training at the School of American Ballet.She has performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet, New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Most recently, she received a master’s degree from New York University in dance education.
Severini is a Certified Teacher of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum.
“She has become a beloved teacher of all our students,” Parkinson said, noting Severini teaches classes at FineLine. “With her background in the dance profession and her extensive education, we are so excited to see Ocean’s vision for the dancers at Fineline.”
Parkinson said she Severini has been advising staff for some time already. “She’s the first person I got to when I’m like, ‘How do we do this?”
Severini’s husband, Aaron, also teaches at FineLine.
“They’re a power couple,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson said she is also excited for FineLine’s new tenant, Bearclaw’s Academy of Music, which recently moved from Route 202 to space inside the 77 Railroad St. studio.
“His school will operate independently within our space,” she explained. “We’re really excited because we share a lot of students.”
Four private practice rooms for music lessons and a remodeled lobby space were created over the past few months to accommodate the music academy.
Parkinson and Wise have shared a love of theater and the performing arts for years, each coming from Broadway before they opened FineLine.
Highly acclaimed in ballet, modern, and jazz styles, Parkinson has performed worldwide as a principal with the Joffrey Ballet, Feld Ballet, Peridance Contemporary Ballet Company, Donald Byrd/The Group, Mark Dendy and Dancers, and Twyla Tharp Dance.
She earned a 2003 Tony-Award nomination and the Astaire Award for best female dancer on Broadway. She teaches master classes and workshops, and she and her husband have traveled around the world to teach.
Wise, a Tony Award winner, has performed in 13 Broadway shows and choreographed and directed off-Broadway and regionally.
FineLine operated out of space at 66 Railroad St. for several years before expanding full-time to 77 Railroad St., where all classes have been held since 2013.