The first time I met Lori Oliver was when Bob started taking dance lessons late last summer for the Dancing with the Stars for Literacy competition, to raise funds for the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County. I accompanied my husband for his first lesson and we were delighted to discover the charming Naples Performing Arts Center in Willow Park where the lessons were held. Neither of us had any idea this place existed before.
Lori Oliver outside the center.
The center is beautiful, with a large, shiny wood floor, one entire wall of mirrors, several classrooms and a kitchen. In the door walked Oliver, ready to take on Bob for his first lesson, flashing the biggest smile we’ve ever seen. As I watched Bob struggle through his first lesson with the patient Lori helping him along, several children came in who dashed to the classrooms, eager to get to their lessons. Lori Oliver and the Naples Performing Art Center had sparked my curiosity.
Since the Dancing with the Stars for Literacy ended, Bob and I have become friends with Lori and husband, Chad Oliver, of NBC-2 News fame. And as a result, we have found out just what the Naples Performing Arts Center is all about. I am thrilled to share it with you.
Lori Oliver is fulfilling her dream with the creation of this center. She offers a space where students of all ages can learn the performing arts, whether it be dance, drama or music. The emphasis on classical education is key and the staff gives the students the foundation, technique and methodology that will allow them to excel. Oliver trains her students for excellence, not just recital or show opportunities.
The Naples Performing Arts Center also offers ballroom dancing classes with students ranging from 8 to 80. Johnny and Lisa PerMar are the lead ballroom instructors. Students can take private lessons or participate in groups. On a personal note, the PerMars are a wonderful couple and excellent teachers. Bob and I have been taking private lessons from Johnny for weeks now and we are having the best time while learning more than we ever thought we would. The center offers musical theater jazz dance classes as well, which are taught by former Broadway performer and choreographer Christopher Dean.
For anyone who would rather learn to play an instrument, the center has a music department that offers lessons in piano, violin, viola, flute, guitar and voice. Oliver has a team of highly trained instructors who offer individual instruction.
Not only can students at the center learn to dance, sing and play an instrument, they can learn to act with one-on-one lessons. Learning how to develop a character, how to bring out emotion on stage and how to build a portfolio for upcoming auditions are important in a theatre career and Oliver teaches all of them. And if that were not enough, she is a director too. She was hired to direct the Golisano Children’s Museum Gala and the Dancing with the Stars for Literacy to name two. If an event calls for a quick flash mob or full-blown entertainment, Oliver can provide direction, dancers and/or singers to make it happen.
The interior of the center
While there is regularly a lot of activity at the Naples Performing Arts Center, the elegant space can be rented. The main ballroom has a capacity for more than 200 people, with the adjoining kitchen and professional audio equipment in place. Within the past year, the center has hosted wedding receptions, birthday and graduation parties, the Hunger Ball benefiting the Harry Chapin Food Bank, and several business conferences.
- For more information, log on to naplesperformingartscenter.com.
Bob and I are so happy for Lori and Chad Oliver, and amazed by what she has achieved so far. We wish them all the best as they continue to contribute to the Naples community in such a fabulous way.