Performing Arts Information
The Performing Arts Department at Maranatha includes Theater I, II, and III, Concert Choir, Mixed Ensemble, Orchestra, Advanced Instrumental Ensemble, Dance I, II, and III, Dance Company and Dance Team, Introduction to and AP Music Theory. In these classes and groups, students learn about artistic and creative expression, interpretation, production and directing, aesthetic review, historical and cultural context of theater, music and dance, and connections to performing arts in careers and literature.
Currently, students perform a minimum of two theatrical productions each year (winter and spring). These productions are performed on the stage of the Internationally acclaimed Ambassador Auditorium, located adjacent to our campus. In addition, music and dance students prepare for two large performances each year in the Ambassador Auditorium, and various on and off campus events such as the Los Angeles Association of Fundraising Professionals Philanthropy Day, Candlelight Christmas Processional at Disneyland, Hollywood Charity Horse Show, Pasadena Mayor's State of the City Address, Pasadena Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, MHS chapels, Performing Arts Chapels, MHS Grandparents' Day, and more.
Performing Arts Faculty
Mr. Blessinger has over 15 years of professional film and theatrical experience working in the Industry as a screenwriter and assistant director for various L.A. theater companies. Besides directing he has experience managing various aspects of production including lighting, set, stage crew, and cast. He also has skills that prove to be additional assets to his students such as filmmaking, graphic design, and speech & debate. He has taught and directed theater for almost a decade in the Christian high school setting. He shares, “My passion lies in developing young performers in their talents. However, it’s far more important to me, as a theater director, to also shape their character. They may not go on to be actors, but they will go on to be part of their community!” He considers it a blessing and a joy to be able to openly guide students in their pursuit of faith, noting that “Biblical truths bleed into everything we do. Through faith we can help students see who they are and how they value themselves, and also give them the courage and confidence to pursue the arts.” Jeremiah graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and is pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts in Theater. He is a member of the International Thespian Society.
Anna Gradwohl has extensive experience in performance, teaching, and choreography of a variety of dance styles. Her collegiate studies focused on modern, ballet, jazz, tap, musical theater, somatics, improvisation, Alexander technique, ballroom, liturgical, choreography, partnering, and Pointe. She has over 18 years of dance performance experience including, but not limited to, annual showcases, numerous state/national dance competitions, collegiate student choreography works, international guest choreography pieces, church outreach performances, and Madame Butterfly (Palm Beach Opera). Her teaching experience ranges from teaching private ballet/jazz/modern lessons, choreographing for summer dance musicals, teaching/choreographing for student showcases at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and choreographing/producing her own 45-minute production titled Redemptive Beauty. Mrs. Gradwohl is no stranger to Christian education. She was raised in a Christian household and attended private Christian school her entire life, including college at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida where she received her B.A. in Dance Performance. She values her Christian education and feels blessed that the majority of her dance experiences have allowed her to integrate her faith with dance. Mrs. Gradwohl is passionate about dance and truly sees it as worship. She explains, “Dance creates an area where students can form explicit integration with their faith. This integration may take the form of liturgical worship dance, or it may create the meaning behind any style of dance. Dance allows students to express their faith physically. (Psalm 149:3)”
Dr. Garineh Avakian is originally from Los Angeles, California. Ms. Avakian holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also a Graduate Certificate Diploma from the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. She has minored in both piano and conducting during her graduate studies. Dr. Avakian has been on voice faculty and has taught Advanced Music Theory/Musicianship, Piano and Voice at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Hollywood, Ca. She has also been the Music Director at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Granada Hills, Ca, where she conducted two children’s choruses and the Chancel Choir. Dr. Avakian is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. Dr. Avakian recently completed a year teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso as a Full Time Visiting Assistant Professor in Music.
John Wells likes nothing better than to stand in front of an orchestra, baton in hand. Since the writing and conducting of his first musical production at age 18 he has had countless opportunities to do just that. John has written his own musical productions since that time, but has also worked as music director at churches such as Calvary Community Church, Westlake Village, Bethany Church of Sierra Madre and First Baptist Church of La Crescenta; and every one of those places saw John in front of an orchestra. He has toured as keyboardist with many different musical groups, including touring with the well-known worship composer and leader, Tommy Walker. John also has numerous production credits to his name, producing all the major productions at the churches at which he has worked, while also producing musical and dramatic productions at Pacific Christian High School. John has his BA from California State University Northridge and his MDiv from Biola University.