Marquette native offering Acting 101 classes

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Marquette native Avalon Dziak, whose acting career has taken her from South Dakota to Vermont to Chicago, will teach a series of “Acting 101” classes at the McGregor Public Library this month.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Whether you’ve always had an interest in acting but don’t know where to start, or simply hope to enhance your skills after a few local performances, a series of “Acting 101” classes offered this month in McGregor could be just the opportunity you’re looking for.

“There’s no age or experience limit. I just want to see who’s out there and who wants to learn,” said Avalon Dziak, who will lead Acting 101 at the McGregor Public Library on March 8, 15 and 22. Each Sunday class will begin at 2 p.m.

A Marquette native, Dziak caught the acting bug as a child, tagging along to her dad’s rehearsals with the Elkader Opera House Players. Soon, she began auditioning herself. Her first role, at age 12, was in the children’s chorus for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Dziak continued acting through high school, then attended the University of South Dakota, where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater performance. Post-graduation, she worked with professional theater companies in Vermont, before taking her talents to Chicago. 

“I started doing more film in Chicago,” Dziak said, including a stint as an extra on the hit FOX television show Empire. “It was fun.”

Some of her other performance credits include Fraulein Kost in a production of “Cabaret” and Sister Aloysius in the dramatic play “Doubt.”

“‘The Boys Next Door’ was a really amazing show to be a part of, and so was ‘The Vagina Monologues,’” Dziak added.

Now living again in Marquette, Dziak hopes to share that acting experience with others.

“I looked back to when I was growing up, and that’s not really a resource around here,” she remarked. “There was an acting unit in an English class in middle school, maybe, so if you’re not auditioning for stuff, then there’s not a whole lot.”

It’s experience she said she would have benefitted from as a teen.

“Going to college, I was kind of at a disadvantage because I didn’t have as much training—I didn’t have that framework,” Dziak explained. “I’m glad I ended up in the program I ended up in because it was a very nurturing program, and that’s exactly what I needed.”

Dziak said Acting 101 will cover the basics of scene work, monologues, working with an acting partner, auditioning and improvisation.

“I would really like to work on physical stuff because I know that’s always been a thing I’ve struggled with, like being in your body on stage,” she continued. “There will be various warm-ups and worksheets and tools that people can take with them and work with.”

This could adapt, Dziak said, depending on what attendees want to learn. 

“I want to figure out what people need before I decide what they need,” she stated.

Dziak said people can come to any of the planned sessions. They’re offered free of charge, although donations are accepted. She hopes attendees will enjoy expressing themselves in what’s always been a “safe place” for her.

“I was a very emotional kid, and I’m a very emotional adult, and the world is not always accepting of emotions,” she shared. “The stage has always been a safe place for that, where I can go and be emotional and it’s OK—it’s a good thing.”

Acting can also help people feel more confident about themselves and what they have to offer.

“And comfort in being in front of people,” Dziak added, “because I think that’s a big part of acting. That, I feel, can be very important in day-to-day life.”

If you have questions or would like more information about Acting 101, feel free to contact Dziak at

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