We had the good fortune of connecting with Elise Arndt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elise, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I am a singer, actor, dancer, and teaching artist who has a background in yoga and meditation and a degree in Musical Theatre. So basically every job I have had has shifted so much since the COVID shutdown. I have always wanted to start a performing arts studio that focuses on wellness practices as its base. So much of how we approach teaching the arts comes from a “product” lens: i.e. who has the best turns, who is going to get cast as the lead, who is the best singer. Rarely are we seeing institutions at the ground level fostering kids as WHOLE artists. Kindness, empathy, confidence and courage are words I talk about often. Note that these are qualities that can be applied to any field of work. What happened if we trained young artists from the ground up with these principles and not the “who is best”, “who will be famous”, “I have to fit my type” mentality. Healthier, emotionally stronger, and in my opinion better artists would be born. This isn’t to say that technique and training isn’t important – it is. But we are seeing a pandemic, and I’m not talking about covid, in artists when they enter the real world: they are emotionally scarred by a teacher they had, they have preconceived notions about the way they look and how that may limit their job prospects because of stereotypes these ‘educational’ environments pushed onto them, and they are insecure because they were never taught to rely on themselves but to seek outside approval. It is my aim to give kids and young adults a chance to explore their artistry in a safe and fun environment that builds them up. What you learn in an arts program is applicable to every field. I have seen my artist friends thrive in corporate America, as Lawyers, as event planners, educators etc. I believe what we do in our acting, singing, and theatre classes translates to a life that is more well rounded and more empathetic. Teaching has made me a better performer. It makes me look at the art form in a totally different lens, and for that I am very grateful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up with a grandmother who was a Broadway and screen actress and a grandfather who was a professional bassist. My parents are lawyers who love the arts and made sure we were exposed to as much of it as possible from an early age. I couldn’t tell you a time where I didn’t want to be a performer. I love storytelling – from being on stage to telling a story to family members at the dinner table. I love that stories connect us as communities and define us. I especially loved that Musical Theatre combined singing, dancing, and acting. I spent 8 years in New York pursuing musical theatre and ended up writing a one woman show about my grandmothers career. Sing, Bibi, Sing! (my one woman show) taught me so much about how to create something from the ground up. I wrote it, starred in it, and produced it. I worked for 3 years on it and it won “best solo concert” at the United Solo Festival in NYC, and then played for 2 weeks at The Brickhouse Theatre in LA. It was by far one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I have ever worked on. Through learning about the ins and outs of doing your own thing I realized I was really quite the hustler. I have always had an interest and a knack for business and building my own things. I love connecting people in industries and seeing their relationships play out. I think that’s why I love performing so much because you build this things from an idea and then you execute it and it’s over and it’s on to the next. Teaching for me has been very parallel to that. I love crafting my classes, I love explaining the BASICS of acting and singing to a first time student and learning something new while I do it. I love seeing a kid who never wanted to get up in class do a monologue for the first time in front of 30 people at the end of the semester. When I went to start my own studio during the pandemic I thought “You have done this before. It just is a new form.” My dream is to be on Broadway. I was upset that when I decided to relocate from New York to SOCAL that hadn’t happened yet. I think when you have a dream that is so big and so important to you from such a young age there is a bit of grieving that goes into understanding the nuances of what it actually looks like when you are an adult in the real world. The vast well inside of me that longs and loves Broadway was so overwhelming at times it felt like a breakup to move away. Obviously, there is still plenty of time and Broadway could (and will!) still happen. What I want people to know is if the original dream didn’t pan out in the timeline you wanted: it’s ok. It may hurt, it will be disappointing, and you may feel alone in that grief but if you have the capacity to love something and go after it so ferociously from a young age you will have other things that fill you up that way as well. Trust your gut and as Brene Brown says “Strong back, soft front, wild heart” I still have days where I don’t know if I fully believe this and when I am filled with self doubt, but I believe that I have taken this moment in our history and asked myself: What do you as Elise do well? And how can you be of service in this moment? I know I have done that. I am good at creating, teaching, and performing and I know more than ever kids need that right now.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am living in Orange County with family at the moment and it is SUCH a fun day trip from LA. I would drive down and go to San Clemente. Take an outdoor yoga class with Epic yoga, hit High Tide coffee for a speciality latte, and walk down Del Mar and walk the pier and the 4 mile beach path. They I would get sushi at Muse sushi and a glass of wine at The Cellar. We would hit Laguna beach for the dramatic and beautiful cliffs and beach and hike Laguna Canyon. If I was staying in LA I would go take a pop up 305 dance class in West Hollywood, and my best friend and I would go to Pink Taco and hit The den. (I know this is basic but I don’t care…I miss dancing in bars with people). I also love a piano bar moment and Tramp Stamp Grannys with my college group would be the best right now. I would also love to see a show at the Laugh factory. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Kate Meek of Four Corners Creative in NYC gave me my first teaching job, and for that I am forever grateful. My grandmother Bibi Osterwald was a well known Broadway and Screen actress. At a very early age she set the example of doing what you love and loving what you do. She also taught me that being kind is the #1 most important quality you can have. My parents and sister who have never failed to support me in my ventures. The group of women actors who I have seen pivot so gracefully during this time. Who have big ideas that take on big meaning in the world. Who have tirelessly worked to prove themselves and serve the world.
Website: www.theelisearndtstudio.com, www.elisearndt.com
Jason Moody Photography