Alyssa Allen - Class of 2015 - Gloria Kaufman School of Dance

Alyssa Allen - Class of 2015 - Gloria Kaufman School of Dance

Being a member of MONTAGE! helped me learn how to captivate an audience with a smile. I gained a greater understanding of how to work in the commercial dance industry through the job opportunities given to MONTAGE!, the intense yet very rewarding rehearsals, and the connections made while being a part of this elite group of artists. I was able to travel and perform with many amazing people and truly learned how to work with others in a loving and supportive environment. MONTAGE! prepared me for the professional world and I am proud to be an alum.

Brooke Averi - Class of 2011 - Radio City Rockette

I always knew OCSA would leave an impact on me, however I didn't realize how often I would be referencing certain tools or experiences that I endured in high school.

Being a part of the performing group Montage! has taught me life long lessons and has prepared me to take on certain challenges you face as a professional performer. 

The audition alone- learning how to show up looking presentable, learning to quickly pick up the choreography and trying to immediately apply a personality behind it, whether finding out you made it or you didn't- was a lesson in itself. For many of us in the future would go through series of auditions and acceptance and denial. 

Being a part of Montage! is like being a mini professional. On top of schoolwork, conservatory, and other outside activities, you must attend additional rehearsals and performances being a part of montage. The biggest thing I learned was time management. How to balance doing homework on your breaks, or in-between rehearsals, while still allowing yourself to have fun in the process.

Traveling around and performing at various venues taught me that you won't always perform on a grand stage. Sometimes we would dance on grass, concrete, or on top the schools roof! You never knew what you were going to get until you got there-even if that meant we had to adjust the entire number to fit on the tiny stage we were faced with. It taught me to be flexible and able to adapt quickly and effortlessly. Both of these are challenges you face as a professional dancer, and definitely challenges that I have faced in my experience dancing in New York. Montage truly gave me the kind of experience you can't find anywhere else. I was a part of Montage for 4 years. That's 4 years of the best kind of practice you can find! Being a part of this group is so special and plays such a large role in why I have come as far as I have. It made my transition from student to working professional seamless, because to a certain degree, I already knew what to expect. But I think my favorite part about Montage was the life long friends I have made. Almost ALL of my best friends in this performing group are now here in New York with me. I run into them at dance classes around the city, at Broadway shows, in auditions, even just walking down the street! It's amazing to see that we all have made it here, are working, and are loving it. When the conversation starts rolling we all can always agree on the fact that we wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for OCSA and for MONTAGE. Thank you Cindy Peca and Ralph Opacic for the experience of a lifetime!

Read More
Brooke Averi - Class of 2011 - Radio City Rockette
Anna Belmer - Class of 2013 - Orange County School of the Arts, Marketing Associate

Anna Belmer - Class of 2013 - Orange County School of the Arts, Marketing Associate

When I think back on my days at the Orange County School of the Arts, I think of MONTAGE! Coming into high school, I was not sure where I would find my place.

Having performed since I was young, I knew that I would connect with my peers in the Music and Theater conservatory, but what I didn’t know was that I would find a home in an industrially lit rehearsal room on my otherwise free Friday afternoons. I auditioned for MONTAGE! at the end of my freshman year and, to my excitement, was accepted to join the group the following August. I started my MONTAGE! career learning the ropes, figuring out how to hold complex harmonies and present myself professionally on stage. Throughout the next three years, the things MONTAGE! taught me stretched beyond my time holding a microphone. 

From the MONTAGE! Creative Team, down to each dancer, vocalist, instrumentalist, and production assistant, each person involved brought something valuable and unique to the family. Through this performing group, I learned how to connect with people, how to learn from my mistakes, how to manage my time, how to speak in front of small groups of donors and audiences of thousands; the list is simply endless. MONTAGE! means so much more than performance opportunities. It means the encouragement of growth in a personal and professional way. It means instilling skills in students that can be applied on the stage, in the classroom, and far beyond high school. It means discovering a sense of self-confidence and worth that stays with you for the rest of your life. I firmly believe I am who I am because of the people I met and the experiences I was lucky enough to find in this special group.

Read More

Andrew Cedar - Class of 2009 - APG/Atlantic Records/Warner Chappell

I can without question say that OCHSA provided me with a positive and inspiring environment for learning both in the classroom, and in my art. As a musician in the Jazz Studies program, I was driven to achieve my goals by both my teachers and fellow peers.

OCSA beyond prepared me for my time at UCLA and set me on a path toward a career in music. To this day I am thankful for the opportunities OCSA gave me, and for my time spent there surrounded by both amazing teachers and students who I still remain close with since graduating in 2009.

Andrew Cedar - Class of 2009 - APG/Atlantic Records/Warner Chappell
Lauren Chong - Class of 2013 - Pepperdine University

Lauren Chong - Class of 2013 - Pepperdine University

My MONTAGE! family constantly inspired and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. Since the group is comprised of students from various conservatories, there are numerous opportunities to collaborate and a willingness to embrace creativity.

Whether it’s exploring a new dance style or experimenting with a concept, MONTAGE! students thrive off of a mutual passion to entertain. 

Throughout my experience, MONTAGE! taught me the importance of fostering an uplifting environment to plunge wholeheartedly into the creative process. Since we performed for a variety of organizations, I learned how critical it is to understand who the audience is and the purpose of the occasion in order to adapt the performance for their enjoyment.

In that regard, MONTAGE! prepared me to take on the role of Creative Director for Pepperdine University’s dance company because it engrained key qualities within us students, such as a commitment to excellence and professionalism. Now that I have the opportunity to cast a vision for Pepperdine’s company, I often refer back to my experience in MONTAGE! It trained me to trust in a collective vision, celebrate other students’ talents and advocate for the arts both on and off the stage.

Read More

Megan Cutler - Class of 2011 - Norwegian Cruise Line

Being a member of Montage throughout my time at the Orange County School of the Arts taught me the skills that advanced my career quicker than I could have imagined.

As a dancer, learning to work with singers and musicians in putting together a show is priceless knowledge that can only be gained by experience. Right now as I perform in several production shows everyday, there are so many elements that go into a show that if I did not learn from Montage I would not have been as knowledgeable and valuable to the company I am currently working for. Knowing how to be a flexible and adaptable performer are two key ingredients to being successful in the entertainment industry. These skills were tested daily where I experienced moments of opportunity to grow as well as moments of pure bliss that made my high school experience. I am thankful for all that I learned and achieved throughout my time in Montage and I would not be where I am today in my career if I had not had the opportunity to grow and develop under the direction of such amazing mentors!

Megan Cutler - Class of 2011 - Norwegian Cruise Line
Harley DeWinter - Class of 2015 - Drummer at Knee High Fox

Harley DeWinter - Class of 2015 - Drummer at Knee High Fox

I spent 3 years as the drummer for MONTAGE! from 2012-2015, working not only the big production shows, but also several of the acoustic performances all around the Orange County. While the Commercial Music program at OCSA was my home where I refined my musicianship, MONTAGE! pushed me to new levels, where I learned to sight read music charts at a professional caliber, co-lead an 80 piece orchestra from behind the drum kit, and collaborate with some of the finest artists my school had to offer.

On top of this, I was able to work under the direction of some great mentors such as Jon Kubis and Bob Wackerman. These experiences prepared me for the real world and allowed me to make what I believe to be good headway in this industry thus far. Thank you to OCSA and a special THANK YOU to MONTAGE! for pushing my limits and leaving me with many great memories! 

Shayla Gabbedon - Class of 2013 - Cheerleader, Los Angeles Rams

Taking part in MONTAGE! changed my dancing career forever. Not only was I challenged in an environment surrounded by so many talented student performers, but I was also encouraged to be myself— all while doing what I love. 

MONTAGE! allowed me to share my passions in so many different settings including, OCSA’s annual Gala event, performances for prominent OCSA founders and donors, outside community events and so many more. I am currently working as a Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader and I have MONTAGE! to thank for instilling in me the dedication and commitment that I have used to achieve my career goals.

Whether I am performing at a game, an event, or working on promos to gain sponsorships, I am always working to push myself and those around me to be the best performers we can possibly be— all because of the work ethic that I was taught in MONTAGE!.

I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity in high school to be a part of such a wonderful organization that has taught me all the life skills that I have needed to reach my dreams.

Read More
Shayla Gabbedon - Class of 2013 - Cheerleader, Los Angeles Rams
Adam Levy - Class of 2013 - Pace University

Adam Levy - Class of 2013 - Pace University

Being a part of the MONTAGE! community taught me so much about performing. I learned how to interact with audiences, how to exude confidence and enthusiasm, and most importantly, how to stand up straight!

Every Friday was an absolute gift. We would spend the afternoon learning our newest pop song, and then we'd get to watch it transform as we added the element of dance. There is something so inspiring about being in a room with individuals whose talents differ from yours; you learn from one another and together you create art that moves people and takes them on a journey. Cindy Peca-Dolan and the MONTAGE! creative team are truly one-of-a-kind. Cindy is a pro at encouraging talent and transforming young artists into true performers. Her positivity, warmth, and dedication to MONTAGE! make it the prestigious group that it is today. The friends that I made in MONTAGE! are still a huge part of my life today and not a day goes by when I don't miss being in that room with those wonderful people. 

Michael Montgomery - Class of 2006 - Principle Dancer, Alonzo King Lines Ballet

Everything I strive to be and possess within myself is a product of the love and amazing guidance that I received from working with MONTAGE!. I will never forget or take for granted the love and nurturing environment that I experienced during my time at OCSA.

 

Michael Montgomery - Class of 2006 - Principle Dancer, Alonzo King Lines Ballet
Dalen O'Dell - Class of 2016 - Berklee College of Music

Dalen O'Dell - Class of 2016 - Berklee College of Music

Montage has taught me a plethora of things in preparation for the professional world including strengthening my performance and work ethic. Montage became not only an environment that pushed me out of my comfort zone to grow in the best ways possible, but also became a welcoming atmosphere that always made me feel excited to perform.

The family and team-mindset that Montage has, has ultimately taught me that gratitude speaks louder than any performance, and it is the experience of doing what you love with your peers that really makes it worth it.

Katie Perry - Class of 2011 - The University of Oklahoma

I had the pleasure of being in MONTAGE! for four years while I attended the Orange County High School of the Arts. Being a member of MONTAGE! gave me the tools I needed to succeed in a University musical theater program, in professional performing jobs, and in life.

My experience under Cindy Peca’s artistic, effective, and caring leadership sharpened my performance skills, and made me smarter, easy to direct, and easily adaptable. Because of MONTAGE!, I had exposure to the “real world” and made connections with successful alumni performers and leaders in the arts industry. Many of these people are still giving me opportunities and helping me in my career and pursuits today. As a member of this fast paced, artistic, special, family-oriented group, I felt my abilities as a performer and a person were valued and trusted, allowing me to believe in myself as well.

Katie Perry - Class of 2011 - The University of Oklahoma
Dan Reckard - Class of 2007 - Musician, Jamestown Revival and Bossa Zuzu

Dan Reckard - Class of 2007 - Musician, Jamestown Revival and Bossa Zuzu

Some of my most cherished memories from OCSA are projects that involved students from across artistic disciplines. As a music student, I was able to collaborate with dancers, visual artists, writers, actors and film students in meaningful ways that would have been impossible at a public high school. This gave me vital perspective and validation as a developing artist. Being a part of OCSA's community instilled confidence that took my craft to the next level, and was an important stepping stone for me to become a professional musician. 

 

Madi Wackerman - Class of 2013 - Walt Disney Creative Entertainment

MONTAGE! is a place where students come to grow artistically and personally in preparation for the future, whatever their path may be. In addition to developing their art, this group gives students the professional and social skills to succeed in life.

Thanks to the creative team consisting of top professionals in their fields, I can specifically attribute my success as a vocalist, both in my musicality and performance, to the lessons I learned during my time in this performance group. However, these lessons, rehearsals, and events taught me so much more than simply how to be a better singer. Each lesson I learned translated into another aspect of my life that helped me grow as an individual. The confidence I needed to be captivating onstage translated into the confidence I had in everyday life.

The necessity to find songs that showcased my voice taught me how to embrace my unique capabilities with positivity. Yet, the different shows, themes and genres of this group expanded my horizons and pushed me to grow to places I never thought were possible. The exposure to different art fields also broadens students’ vision to the many different jobs available and necessary in the entertainment world. MONTAGE! taught me to respect and appreciate the other career paths involved in the entertainment world that are otherwise not onstage. Because of this, I will be graduating with honors from UC Berkeley in Spring 2017 with a double major in Theater and Music to purse a career as a professional director. The skills I attained in this group helped me throughout my time in college and I know they will carry me throughout my life. Like stated in the name, MONTAGE! is a collection of individuals rather than homogeneity. I would not have become the individual I am today had it not been for this family of mentors, peers and artists of MONTAGE!.

Read More
Madi Wackerman - Class of 2013 - Walt Disney Creative Entertainment