|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Tuesday, 21 February 2012 00:00|
Wendy Davis, or “Doctor Wendy” as some call her, is bringing a colorful splash and infectious energy to her new venture in downtown Camp Verde.
It’s the Rising Star Academy, and Davis spent last week hauling equipment up to the second floor of the old Montezuma Inn building on Main Street.
Equipment might be the wrong word. Upstairs in the small former hotel room, the floor is filled with colorful toys, props, puppets, piece of art and musical instruments.
Of course, Davis doesn’t settle for something so mundane as sandpaper blocks or a recorder — although she’d likely be more than happy to use them.
No, Davis has an assortment of instruments from crystal bowls that emit clarion tones of varying pitch to a variety of ocarinas, small clay flutes that Davis said people have been using since before recorded history.
“This one looks like it was made by an alien,” Davis said, pointing to an ocarina with a pinkish/purple sheen.
Davis also wears one around her neck, so she can give an impromptu concert at the drop of a hat, not hesitating to play anything from “Hava Nagila” to “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” for a visitor.
Music might just run in the family. Davis is the niece of famed pianist Irving Fields, who at age 96 is still making music.
As other tenants in the building peek in occasionally to look at the source of all this music, Davis said opening the Rising Star Academy has been a dream of hers for the last 20 years.
Davis describes the academy as a sort of after-school program for kids ages 8 to 88, though those ages are by no means set in stone.
While Davis is the executive director, she prefers to call herself the “head coach.”
With degrees including a doctorate in sociocultural psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and other degrees in the fields of psychology and business, Davis has served as a college professor, a music teacher, a performance artist as well as having worked with several nonprofit organizations.
Davis is also an author, having published “The Adventures of Wanda-Luu,” a story that helps teach people to learn more about who they are through creativity and imaginative self-discovery.
Through her program, Davis said she wants to encourage people to learn how to tell their own stories, based on the challenges they’ve faced in their own lives.
Davis incorporates play, music and just plain goofy fun into her program, but it’s all rooted in her experience in the field of psychology.
Dubbed the “W-Fun!” method, Davis said each class is limited to eight students.
Her program can help kids with attention-deficit disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, Davis said.
“We help teach them to teach themselves,” Davis said. “We want to show them the stars they really are.”
It’s not therapy, Davis said. It’s “art therapy.”
Davis can also teach yoga and knows quite a bit about aromatherapy, a pursuit that actually brought her to the Verde Valley four years ago for a workshop on the subject in Cornville.
Davis said she also hopes to take her work into the local schools eventually.
The academy’s grand opening is set for Wednesday, Feb. 15. For the first month, Davis said she will be offering free 15-minute sessions to anyone interested.
Even for her paid services, Davis said she’s usually willing to barter.
Anyone who stops by Davis’ new laboratory of the mind and soul is practically guaranteed to have a colorful experience. They may even get a chance to meet the academy’s mascot, a six-week-old lab mix who goes by the name “Choco Lovestar.”
Is Davis a dog person?
“I am now,” Davis said with a laugh.
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