Smith envisions performing arts academy for theater space


MONTE VISTA — The owner of a local dance and performing arts studio made her pitch to the Monte Vista City Council detailing her plan for the Vali 3 Theater.

Kayla Smith made her presentation to the council on Thursday, Nov. 3. Smith has a dance and performing arts business called Ms. Kais Academy of Performing Arts that she runs out of the Purple Moon Rising studio located in Downtown Monte Vista.

Smith has classes for various age groups in her studio and holds classes for different types of dance styles along with performing arts classes.

Toward the end of the summer, City of Monte Vista staff asked the council what it would like to do with the city-owned theater that was being run as a movie theater by the Friends of the Vali 3 Theater with some financial support from the city.

The council decided to see if it could either give away or sell the space with the understanding it would remain an entertainment venue and opened the request for proposals process. The RFP period closed on Oct. 26. Smith was the only person to submit an RFP document, according to City staff.

"My mission for my studio is not just a dance studio, and I would like to point that out,” Smith said. “My business is a performing arts academy. My mission is to reach our community in a totally different way than you guys have ever seen. I am not only going to reach children ages 3 and up, but I would also like to reach through adulthood.”

Smith said she would like to offer a lot more but is limited by her current space.

“It is a wonderful space, but I have outgrown it already,” Smith said. “In order to go forward with all of these wonderful ideas I do need a bigger space, which is why I am here about the Vali Theater.”

Smith said she moved to Monte Vista in 2010 from Indiana and has an extensive history with performing arts schools in Indiana, having attended them for 15 years.

"My parents believed strongly in me attending these schools, and they have really formed me and shaped me into the person that I am today,” Smith said. “I believe this could be wonderful for Monte Vista.”

Smith said there is a lot of interest, more than she can currently accommodate, in what she is providing. She gave examples of what she has seen.

She said they held a summer camp here in Monte, a trial run from June 20 through July 22, to see the interest.

“I anticipated 25 students. I ended up with 45,” she said. “So, this exceeded my expectations. We did perform in the Ski-Hi Stampede Parade. It was a success, we had so much fun. All of my performances will be going back to our community in some way."

Smith said the performance in the parade had a breast cancer awareness theme. They sold T-shirts for the performance and gave a percentage of what they sold to a local hospital, in lieu of Smith's mother being a breast cancer survivor.

After the camp, Smith said she had her first fall session on Sept. 12.

“I hosted registration two weeks prior, and I had a line out the door,” she said. “I had registration numbers of 65 students and had to close classes because physically I can't do more than 15 students per class. I had to put a cap on my classes, and I don't want to cap my students. I want to reach the entire community, not just Monte Vista, the entire San Luis Valley.”

She said the price per student is $400 and her total for the fall semester — a three-month period — was $26,000.

Smith said she was currently offering musical theatre, ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical hip-hop, technique, and singing. She has ideas for numerous classes that she could offer to the entire community, but right now she is limited to just children. She said she does not have the room to open classes to adults. Her classes run Monday through Friday evenings.

Smith said obtaining the theater building would allow her to expand her classes and be a space that would bring the community together.

"Once a month or twice a month, I would also have a movie night to give families the opportunity to enjoy a movie together,” Smith said. “I could also see myself opening up the venue for adult country swing classes, tap dance classes, there is so much I can do with this venue to bring the community together."

Smith also addressed the renovations the theater needed.

"My husband and I have our own construction business, and we would over the course of a number of years, renovate everything for the academy,” she said.

Smith estimated it will cost them about $300,000 to renovate the theatre and said this was why she was asking for the city to give her the theatre.

The council thanked Smith for her presentation and said they would announce their decision at a future meeting.