Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spotlight On Madison Potantus in A Year with Frog and Toad

When Madison Potantus moved to the Tampa area with her family last year from Ohio, she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to find a dance studio or theater to suit her passion for performing.

Madison and Jacob Potantus
“I started dancing when I was about two and a half,” said Madison, 13, from Harbour Island.

“When I was little, I started singing a lot. That led to trying a vocal class, which led to trying a theater class.”

After recently playing Miss Hannigan in a local production of Annie, she was hooked on theater and wanted more, which led her to the Patel Conservatory.

When she started classes this fall at the Conservatory, she dove right in, taking six classes in dance, theater and music, including Junior Choir, Acting, Just for Kicks and Show Team.

“This is actually the first studio we’ve come to that has everything,” she said.

She performed last week in the Vocal and Instrumental Concert, and plays a Lady Bird in our upcoming theater production of A Year with Frog and Toad.

“I’m loving it here, it’s awesome. It seems like a big program, but really it’s like a really tight family. My first class, everyone was so welcoming,” said Madison.

Madison’s 10-year-old brother Jacob is also enrolled, taking chorus and theater classes. Jacob, who has autism, surprised his family with a solo part at last week’s vocal concert.

“When he was little, we didn’t think he was going to talk at all, so it was awesome to see him get up there,” said Madison.

“I was blown away by the concert, the level of professionalism, the technique,” said their mom Heather Potantus. “You could see the talent in [instructors] Kavan [Gillespie] and Aaron [Cassette] and their ability to work with the children. They respect the kids. The way they interact with the children is so special.”

One of the things Madison enjoys about the instructors is how they encourage the students to make their own creative choices.

“I love all the faculty... it’s amazing to see how well they communicate with us,” said Madison.

In A Year with Frog and Toad, Madison was surprised by how director Matthew Belopavlovich added his own unique touches to the show, playing up his vaudeville experience.

“When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be crazy, but it works,” said Madison.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a fun, family-friendly show about friendship through the seasons. Performed by students in grades 5 through 8, it's a great way to introduce kids to live theater.

“Some of these kids are blowing my mind, giving their own take on these characters. Overall, I think it’s going to be amazing and I’m so excited to see the finished product.”

The show runs Nov. 6 through Nov. 9, 2014 in TECO Theater.

Patel Conservatory students receive 50% off one ticket with their Patel Conservatory student ID badge at the Ticket Sales Office. For tickets, click here, visit our Ticket Sales Office, or call 813.229.STAR (7827).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On-camera workshop with Ellen Jacoby

Do you want to work in the film and television industry?

The Patel Conservatory is hosting a two-day workshop with Miami-based casting director Ellen Jacoby, one of the most in-demand casting directors in the Florida film and television industry.

If you work, or aspire to work, in the film business, this is the workshop that can jumpstart your career.

Jacoby has worked on such feature films as Ace Ventura, True Lies and There’s Something About Mary, and television shows such as Burn Notice, Miami Vice and CSI: Miami.

In this two day workshop, students will hear real life accounts of life in the world of film and television as Jacoby shares the ins and outs of the business of on-camera acting.

In Saturday’s introductory workshop, students will learn firsthand what casting directors are looking for and how to prepare for auditions. Sunday’s more advanced workshop will provide more details on self-taping, being aware of current trends, and understanding how to best represent yourself and your talents.

On-Camera Acting Workshop with Casting Director Ellen Jacoby
Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center, Tampa
Sat., Nov. 15, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 16, 2014 from 1 to 5 p.m.
$200 for both Saturday and Sunday
$100 Saturday only
$135 Sunday only

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, or to register, call 813.222.1002.

Dancers inspire kindness and acceptance

Like any sport, the dance world can be competitive.

Jake Tribus
But Next Generation Ballet dancers Jake Tribus and Jonathan Fahoury hope to show that even though dancers may compete against each other for titles, they can still support each other without judgement or criticism.

Tribus, 16, from Raleigh, N.C., and Fahoury, 14, from Boulder, Colo., are part of group of dancers from around the country trying to inspire kindness and acceptance through their non-profit organization Artists Giving Hope.

“Kindness changes everything is our motto,” said Tribus, “we want everyone to understand and accept one another regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc..”

Founded by Tribus and fellow dance competitor Christina Ricucci, in March, the group performs and offers master classes to raise awareness and help support like-minded charities. They recently offered a master class at a studio in Birmingham, Ala., which raised approximately $500 for Dancers Fighting Cancer. Their next goal is to raise enough to fulfill a dance-related wish for Make-A-Wish.

Tribus and Fahoury met in 2013 at the New York City Dance Alliance convention.

“It’s a week-long national dance competition and workshops,” said Tribus.

Tribus won the National Teen Male division, and Fahoury won the National Male Junior division. As title winners, they toured the country with the organization, performing and assisting faculty.

“It was a great experience teaching me how to be more of a professional,” said Tribus.

Both dancers recently moved to Tampa with their families to train at the Patel Conservatory.

Jonathan Fahoury
Fahoury attended NGB’s summer intensive and found the training exceeded his expectations.

“In three weeks, I improved so much. I wanted to improve more,” said Fahoury. “I know I want to do this as a I want to be as well trained as possible in various styles.”

Tribus, whose background is predominantly in contemporary and jazz, joined NGB to improve his ballet technique.

“I’ve never had a ballet class with all men...I can already see my technique growing in just the month and half I’ve been here,” said Tribus. “Definitely having multiple classes a day filled with kids of the same passion and same pushes me.”

Tribus will play the Mouse King, lead Russian and lead Arabian in Next Generation Ballet’s upcoming production of The Nutcracker. Fahoury will play the lead Chinese and a Russian dancer.

Come see Tribus and Fahoury in this year’s The Nutcracker, Dec. 13 and 14, 2014 at the Straz Center.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Want to look like the walking dead? Check out our make-up workshop!

Want to add some ghoulish effects to your Halloween costume this year?

Join us for a new workshop at the Patel Conservatory:

Behind the Curtain: Stab Wounds, Scars and Scares! Oh, My!
Sat., Oct. 25
10 a.m. to noon
Cost is $25

As part of our Behind the Curtain workshop series, theater make-up enthusiasts Audrey Siegler and Sarah Berland will teach participants how to create frightening looks for Halloween. This fun workshop will include a basic introduction to make-up and design, an application demonstration of wounds, scars and painting, and a portion where students will apply learned skills to create a simple wound.

Students will be provided with all materials to create in-class applications as well as how-to and material guides to take home for reference.

This workshop is designed for anyone in grade five through adult. The cost is $25.

For more information, or to register, call 813.222.1002 or click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

NGB alumni success

Congratulations to several Next Generation Ballet alumni who have gone on to prestigious opportunities throughout the world this fall.

The following NGB alumni have joined professional companies this fall:

Hannah Bettes, Boston Ballet, company member 
Diana Dizon, Boston Ballet II, company member 
Olivia Gusti, Ballet West trainee

The following NGB alumni are training on scholarship with dance schools and colleges around the globe:

Florrie Geller and John Hewitt
Kemper Cassada - School of American Ballet, New York City, NY
Ethan Fuller - School of American Ballet
Carolynn Rowland - School of American Ballet
Hannah Stanford - Royal Ballet School, London, United Kingdom
John Hewitt - Hamburg Ballet School, Hamburg, Germany
Chander Hammond - John Cranko School, Stuttgart, Germany
Tanner Bleck - San Francisco Ballet School, San Francisco, CA
Courtney Gunsteens - San Francisco Ballet School 
Leo McGrath - Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Corbin Panturad - Butler University
Florrie Geller- The School of Dance at UNC School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC
Claire Ashcraft - Miami City Ballet School, Miami Beach, FL

Congrats to all of these dancers for their hard work and success. We are so proud of their accomplishments!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Patel Conservatory's fall auditions

The Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory will host auditions for upcoming classes for the 2014/2015 season.

A Year with Frog and Toad 
Grades 5 through 8
This performance-based program allows students to put into practice the skills they learn in the classroom. The program culminates in a ticketed performance of this whimsical musical, w
ritten by brothers Robert (music) and Willie Reale (book and lyrics), based on the Frog and Toad children's stories.
Auditions will be Mon., Aug. 25 and Tues., Aug. 26 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Instrumental and Vocal programs
Grades 5 through 12
Orchestra, chamber and jazz musicians, and vocalists, hone their skills and gain vaulable ensemble experience.
Auditions will be Sat., Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to Noon
Rock School
Students are placed in bands according to age and skill level, and weekly rehearsals culminate in a fully-produced Rock School Blowout concert.
Auditions will be Tues., Sept. 2 and Wed., Sept. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.

For more information, or to RSVP for an audition, please call 813.222.1002.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Congratulations to string specialist Catherine Michelsen

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory’s string specialist, Dr. Catherine Michelsen, for recently completing the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Arizona.

Michelsen has been teaching at the Patel Conservatory since 2005 and coordinates our Suzuki violin and chamber programs. Under her direction, the Suzuki violin program has flourished in the past few years.

The Suzuki method of teaching violin is based on the teaching philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki. It is a parent/child approach which is based upon the way in which young children learn language.

Michelsen received a bachelor of music from Florida State University, a master of music in violin performance from The Boston Conservatory, and a Master of Music in Chamber Music from the University of South Florida. She completed her doctorate in May.

We are honored to have such distinguished faculty on our team.

Congratulations Dr. Michelsen!


Patel Conservatory offers Suzuki violin to student ages three and up, and Suzuki cello to students ages six and up.

There will be an informational meeting for all those interested in learning more about Suzuki violin on Mon., Aug. 18, 2014 from 5 to 6 p.m.

To RSVP, please call 813.222.1002.