We had the good fortune of connecting with Kasey Viani and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kasey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?

I have been in the performing arts since I was 2 years old, and there isn’t anything I know or love more to do- aside from being a Mommy and happy wife, now married 10 years! I have been choreographing and directing for over three decades now, and dancing for over four decades. I just felt that I had so much more to give. Over the years, I have garnered an incredible amount of experience and knowledge, and I kept thinking to myself, “What was I doing to pass it on?”

Then, Covid hit and I saw numerous people out of work and performing arts students without a home. With studio and theater closures all over town, I felt deeply moved to do something to help save the arts. That’s when I decided to open the doors of my home to provide instruction IN PERSON for those who didn’t want their skills to atrophy due to a pandemic that was impeding their learning opportunities. That’s when Viani’s Performing Arts Academy was born.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

Personally, I feel like my artistic abilities were in their infancy stages when I found myself hired as a Disneyland performer, ironically enough. Breaking into Disneyland as a female dancer/performer was an incredibly difficult and intimidating process. I was in competition against 1,500 people for one of the few spots open in their show “Fantastmic!”, so the odds were already against me. However, I was fortunate enough to win the favor of the directors and choreographers of the show and was selected to join the Disney family. During my time at Disneyland, I took a hard look at the talent that surrounded me (ie. directors, choreographers, and fellow dancer/performers) and analyzed what made them great. After I left Disneyland, I continued directing and choreographing around the San Diego area and developed an eye for undiscovered, talented performers. Too frequently, and to the detriment of a show, I have seen “political” circumstances cloud judgement when it comes to the casting of a show. Because of this, I have made it the mission of my academy to foster all budding and talented performers who demonstrate the following qualities: CHARACTER, perseverance, humility, talent, and a deep love for the arts. I emphasize good character as the primary attribute because if a performer is wanting to experience success with their art and break into the entertainment industry, they absolutely MUST embody a good solid character. Directors will work with these types of artists all day long.

Viani’s Performing Arts Academy is set apart from other performing arts companies because each student receives their own solo performance in our productions WITHOUT auditioning. Typically, when casting a large production, auditions are necessary. However, if the student has signed up to be a VPAA private student, they automatically get a solo spot in the show. I have found that my VPAA community really loves the personal attention they receive both in rehearsal and on the stage. I am a firm believer in showcasing the growth and progress my students make by placing them on the stage in a solo performance. They, in turn, are also coached in developing their performance skills and in learning how to make themselves more exciting for the audience to watch. There is a sense of confidence and personal identity they acquire through such an experience, which is why I feel it is the most important attribute they can develop under my mentorship.

Getting to this point has been hard work every step of the way. When I come to a crossroads and am feeling overwhelmed, I focus on the students and families that have entrusted me with their future. I always want to honor their investment in me, and so part of my instruction is also based upon building life skills in the professional arena. I have a few students working hard to break into the professional entertainment industry and, depending on their circumstances and readiness, I will sometimes utilize my personal professional entertainment industry connections to help transition these students successfully into the professional entertainment arena. I have big dreams for my students. Ultimately, when I truly feel challenged and stuck, I remind myself that the only person getting in the way of my dreams coming true is me.  This is when I give myself a little pep talk, say a prayer, and create the next vision I have for VPAA— which is in the works as we speak!

One lesson I have learned during my journey in the entertainment industry is that you never get to the point where you know everything about everything. Like most fields, a person in the arts must be committed to being a life-long learner. In no way have I ever had a passion to run a business— probably because I knew nothing about it.  I was always the hired performer, so I never had to worry about such items like overhead costs, scheduling, theater business relations, etc. Now it’s my job to be knowledgeable about all of these business items. I am constantly researching marketing strategies, studying business models, and collaborating with other local business owners, in addition to recruiting and teaching my students how to sing, dance and act. It’s a huge undertaking. Another important lesson I find myself learning repeatedly is maintaining a solid work/home balance. At times, it  can be very lop-sided.  It is a constant struggle for me to remain balanced, and it is essential for the good of both my family and my students.

Viani’s Performing Arts Academy is best known to its community for its following characteristics: Personal, Professional and, Prestigious. To explain:  (1) Personal:  Each student is given undivided and individualized attention in the honing of their craft. (2) Professional: Our academy provides expertise and experience— students are trained towards professionalism focusing on clean, seamless performances. (3) Prestigious:  Because of the grand scope and depth of the skill-building this academy provides, VPAA not only provides foundational skill-building opportunities in all performing art forms, but it also stretches artists to push outside of their comfort zone to help them experience their true potential.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

I grew up in San Diego so, sadly, I don’t really “tour” my own city very much;  however, I could give a few good itinerary ideas! Visit the San Diego Zoo between 10am-2pm; the animals are awake and busy which makes for fun viewing. Visit SeaWorld! Feed the manta rays and be sure to go on the Jellyfish swing ride! It makes me sick to my stomach every time, but my daughter sure gets a kick out of it!  Be sure to walk around our famous Hotel Del Coronado and enjoy the historical photographs they have inside. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon filmed “Some Like it Hot” at the Hotel Del, and the hotel still has memorabilia there you can enjoy! Check out our historical spots such as Mt. Helix and Mt. Soledad. Be sure to swing through Old Town San Diego.  While you are there, get some Mexican food; their fresh tortillas are amazing! If you are in the mood for some amazing seafood, romance, and ambiance, have dinner at Peohe’s in Coronado. Get a seat at the window, and you will have the entire San Diego harbor and downtown San Diego skyline to enjoy.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

My first shout-out would go to my husband, who is my biggest supporter. I am an artist so sometimes my ideas and designs can be grandiose and a little unorganized.  My husband helps me to keep my feet on the ground, persevering and supporting me through the business side of the academy. His unwavering patience and persistence to challenge me to think more “business-mindedly” has made all the difference. He has supported me in creating a training space for performing arts students all over the county and, quite literally, has helped me to build this business from the ground up.

My second shout-out would go to my daughter for being supportive of her mommy who might be teaching other children during family time at night. She has made a lot of friends during this process and has developed a drive to make her dance and singing talent even stronger. I love you with all my heart, Sweetheart! You make me very proud! 

I hate to sound predictable, but I definitely would give my next shout-out to my parents for not only raising me with a deep love for the performing arts, but who have also supported my ventures my entire life. They have been at my side since I was a performing pre-schooler and are at my side now as I build a performing arts academy that serves our community.

In addition, I would love to give a shout-out to my VPAA community. I have an incredible community of parents and students who have invested their time and trust my expertise.  I simply wouldn’t be able to do this without their support.

Lastly, I would love to give a shout-out to all of my friends who are in the performing arts community.   These would include my friends who are well known directors/choreographers at Disney to the local theater/studio owners and after-school program directors. It has been with your encouragement, inspiration, and insight that I have been able to build this company one student at a time. Thank you!

Website: www.vianisperformingartsacademy.com

Instagram: vianis_performing_arts_academy

Linkedin: Kasey Viani

Facebook: Viani’s Performing Arts Academy

Yelp: Viani’s Performing Arts Academy

Youtube: Kasey Viani

Image Credits
Melanie Monroe Photography

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