The back-to-school season is often a time when families seek out enrichment opportunities for young people. Thankfully, they need not stray too far afield, as we have many right here in West Haven. Consider these offerings for those who are creatively-inclined:
Picasso Parties. https://www.picassoparties.com/ Located at 944 Ocean Ave, next to Prospect Beach House, this women-owned business started just a few years ago has become a center of possibility and a unique destination for artmaking for all ages. While the space gets rented out for parties and fundraisers, the owners also put on their own events. A Kids Paint Night will be held Oct 7th and a Kids Halloween Dance Party on Oct 21st, both for a fee of $25.They also deliver Do-It-Yourself craft boxes to homes in West Haven and Milford, such as the popular bottle opener plaques, hooks for dog leashes, and beach-themed wooden signs. For example: “Mermaids Welcome.”
TDM Acting Studio. https://www.treneemcgee.com/tdm-acting-studio-1 Located at 413 Campbell Ave, across the street from the new Cornell Hill Health Center, between Curious Goods and Z’s, this center cares about not only developing artistry but improving young people’s ability to show up in society and use their voices to advocate effectively on behalf of themselves and others. The studio is owned by theater artist and educator Trenee McGee, who maintains a second career in state politics. Classes include Acting, Actor’s Movement, Li’l Improv, and more. Registration is still open for the Fall sessions starting up Sept 19th; Winter sessions begin in January.
Mulkerin School of Irish Dance. https://mulkerinirishdancers.com/ Athletic in form, Irish step dance is also a vehicle for keeping Celtic culture alive. In fact, you may see their students on stage at the Apple Festival! Classes take place at St. Lawrence School on Union Ave. and prospective students are invited to sample one free class. Every 5 years or so an all-state troupe of “Emerald Dancers” travel to Ireland for a performance tour. Their next tour will be for two weeks during the summer of 2025. Selected dancers (16 in all) will perform for Lord and Lady Mayors, in castles and of course, the occasional pub.
Middle Eastern Dance Academy of CT – (pictured right) Inside Viva Dance & Fitness Center, 243 Captain Thomas Blvd. https://www.vivadancefitness.com/middle-eastern-dance-academy/ The Academy offers a safe space focused on the traditional art of Raks Sharki (Egyptian-style bellydance) to help people heal from social pressures or feelings of inadequacy. Master trainers deliver authentic exploration of this art form. People from all walks of life are invited to embrace their bodies, be inspired by movement, and develop cultural understanding. Keeping the average family’s need for flexibility in mind, there are three different ways to learn: 1) in person studio classes; 2) live online classes; and 3) pre-recorded, self-paced classes.
Piano. http://www.judypancoast.com/ GRAMMY-nominated children’s singer, songwriter, and recording artist Judy Pancoast (pictured left) lives on the West Shore. She has limited spots for private lessons available in her home on a weekly basis.You can contact her at email@example.com.
Of course, there are many other gems not listed here. Some are well-known, such as Top Hat Dance Dance Academy (a West Haven institution – now celebrating 35 years in operation!) and enrichment activities offered by West Haven Public Library, including monthly Take & Make crafts for all ages. We do hope this article sheds some light on a handful of West Haven programs that are worthwhile yet in need of greater visibility.