Our amazing staff is led by our fearless leader, our Director, Vanessa Knowles.
Vanessa has been involved in performance and performance education for more than 20 years. She has performed professionally at Disneyand, in numerous productions with college and community theater groups such as The Young Americans and MYART, and she toured nationally with the Continental Singers and Disney.
As an educator, Vanessa has had numerous roles including show director, assistant director and improv coach. Most recently she has been the director of the MYART Showcase Troupe, a 45-member children’s performance group that travels throughout southern California performing in venues such as Disneyland, Knotts, the FV Summerfest and more. In January 2017, the Showcase Troupe traveled to NYC when they were invited to perform at the Empire State Building.
Vanessa is the Founder or Free to Be Me Performing Arts Academy where she combines her love of teaching performance with her training and degrees in Early Childhood Education, Sociology and Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. At Free to Be Me, Vanessa promotes and develops self-esteem and confidence in children through performance training in her camps, classes and workshops, and through her traveling performance troupe.
When not working with her performers, Vanessa spends her time as a motivational speaker and mom to her two children.
Vanessa is forever grateful to her former Directors and Mentors including Dana Hanstein Hanlen and Liana Koeppel-Taylor, and to all of her students and their parents, for all of their support and inspiration along the way. *
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