Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Find something new in you!

Melanie Miller was a little self-conscious when she signed up for an adult tap dance class last summer. It'd been nearly 15 years since she set foot in a dance studio.
"I've run six marathons,” said Miller, 35, of Harbour Island. “But [running] was getting monotonous and boring. I wanted a new type of exercise.”
A co-worker at TECO took a tap class at the Patel Conservatory and recommended it to Miller.
“I was very nervous getting back into it. The word ‘conservatory’ sounds intimidating” she said, “but after 10 minutes, you’re at ease. Everyone was so welcoming, and they’re all at different levels. It wasn’t intimidating at all.”
Miller (top right) with the
summer hip-hop group.
When Miller was little, she took ballet, tap and jazz. Susan Downey’s tap class brought back her love of dance.
“Susan’s very encouraging. When I got back into dance, I was a little down on myself. Susan makes everyone feel like they’re the best dancer, she makes them feel special.”
In the fall, Miller continued with tap, and signed up for more classes. In the spring, she got to perform with Susan’s students for the Owls senior group in Northdale, and with the Opera Tampa in Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center.
Miller signed up for four classes over the summer (tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop), and plans to sign up for two more this week.
“I love performing, I’m all about the recitals,” she admits. “I’m never going to be a prima ballerina, but just the chance every once in a while to get to dance on that big stage makes you feel so good.”

Are you looking for something new to invigorate your mind and body? Check out adult classes in dance, music and theater.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spotlight on Hannah Bettes

Bettes in a performance of Swan Lake

Hannah Bettes is blessed with a gift. She possesses the extraordinary flexibility and natural talent of a ballerina.

At age 12, after taking ballet just a couple of times a week at a local studio, she was accepted on full scholarship to the summer intensive at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City.

Bettes, 14, of Deland, FL, began dancing when she was 8 years old at a jazz studio. She soon joined their competition team, and later added ballet classes. Now, she’s been offered scholarships to three full-time dance programs. She chose the Patel Conservatory.

“I decided to come here because there were so many more opportunities here. We’ll be having two performances this year, if not more. There’s also a day program,” said Bettes. “And I’ll be under Peter Stark, which is a plus.”

Bettes has been chosen as one of the first apprentices of the new ballet company at the Straz Center, the Next Generation Ballet. She has moved to Tampa with her grandmother to study dance full-time at the Patel Conservatory and be part of the new ballet company. She’ll complete academic work online through Florida Virtual School.

Bettes’ ultimate goal is to one day study full-time at SAB and join the New York City Ballet, which is why she chose to study with Stark, the Patel Conservatory dance department chair and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet.
“Since he comes from that background, he’d be the right person to train with, and he’s a good coach,” said Bettes, who had the opportunity to train with Stark when he was director of the Orlando Ballet.

The formation of the Next Generation Ballet further establishes the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center as a premier training ground for pre-professional dancers like Bettes.
The Next Generation Ballet will perform with guest artists, as well as Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet students, in full-scale productions at the Straz Center. Its first production will be The Nutcracker in December, featuring guest artists from the New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet.

Bettes will be training nearly eight hours a day, five days a week, an arduous schedule compared to her previous training.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, and it’s going to be a ton of work, but it’s all for the best,” said Bettes. “It’ll be a lot more dancing than I’m used to, but I’m excited to do something that I love.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Audition opportunity

Dancers, don’t forget to sign up for this weekend's auditions to be in the Next Generation Ballet production of The Nutcracker.
Stark with PCYB students
This is an amazing opportunity for Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet students to perform on stage alongside guest artists from the New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet.
Directed by Peter Stark, former director of the acclaimed Orlando Ballet School, The Nutcracker will be the debut performance of Next Generation Ballet, the exciting new dance company at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Next Generation Ballet will feature eight apprentice dancers, 12 trainee dancers and the finest students from the Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet’s 250 students.
Be a part of the exciting new opportunities at the Patel Conservatory. Auditions for The Nutcracker are this Sat., Aug. 28th. Please click here for full audition information. For questions about auditions or the Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet, please call the dance department at 222-1263.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Climb every mountain!

Climbing that mountain toward success, local teens will get the opportunity to perform on stage this weekend with the touring cast of The Sound of Music at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Auditions were held at the beginning of August, and local teens, including many of our own students from the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater (PCYT), were cast as nuns, Nazis and party guests. They’ll get invaluable experience performing alongside the touring cast in the Carol Morsani Hall.

Congratulations to the students performing on the big stage this weekend! Break a leg!

Spotlight on Amanda Roa

Roa, at top, with fellow performers.
Today’s spotlight is on Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet instructor Amanda Roa.

As part of the professional dance company Shoes at the Door, Roa will be performing in the upcoming show Imprints
Roa received a B.A. in dance from the University of South Florida in 2006.  Her jointly choreographed work Apart of Me was featured in the NewGrounds dance festival, Hillsborough Community College Four Days of Dance, and at the Maxwell C. King Center in Melbourne, FL in 2009. In addition to teaching youth ballet classes, Roa teaches dance for our outreach partners including Metropolitan Ministries, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, and the Parkinson's group at USF.
Imprints, the first full-length show of Shoes at the Door, is a modern dance performance.
“There’s a nice variety in the choreography, so I think it’s a show that everyone will enjoy,” said Roa.
Check out Roa and her fellow dance company members in Imprints, playing Aug. 28th at USF Theatre I  at 3pm and 8pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For more information, visit shoesatthedoor.org.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spotlight on Johnny Maio

Today's spotlight is on another Tampa's Got Talent winner, Johnny Maio.

Maio, 14, won the dance category at last month's competition, which featured over 100 performers in dance, music and theater auditioning for their chance at a scholarship from the Patel Conservatory.

"I didn't really know what to expect, I just came in like it was a regular audition," said Maio, of Northdale, who amazed judges with his toe tapping Irish step moves.

When Maio was young, he saw Riverdance on TV. Maio thrilled at the prospect of learning Irish step.

He currently trains with instructor Brent Wood at Glor Na Daire in Jacksonville, commuting every week to classes. He homeschools and uses the long drive to do schoolwork.

He competes nationally with the National Irish Dance Association and was ranked 5th in the U.S. in 2009.

"I feel the fire of getting in front of an audience. It's different than practicing at home, it's like I'm ten times better," said Maio.

Johnny practices at Curtis Hixon Park
What does he love about dancing?

"I just like to jump really high, and tap my feet as fast as I can," said Maio. "Getting good at it is a fun challenge. I'd like to do as much as I can, tap, ballet, jazz."

He joins the Patel Conservatory this month taking ballet and tap classes.

Want to join Maio in the 'fun challenge' of dance? Registration is currently open for fall classes for adults and children in tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and more. Click here for a full class schedule.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Born to perform!

Elizabeth Harvath speaks comfortably about her young career on the stage.
Elizabeth Harvath, TGT winner
“I enjoy theater because I love telling stories, it’s just really fun,” said Harvath.
The 10-year old Tampa’s Got Talent winner from Safety Harbor seems born to be on stage. She takes 12 hours of dance a week, and voice and acting lessons. Last spring, she earned the lead role as Annie in her school production of Annie, Jr.
When she took a dance camp this summer at the Patel Conservatory, she was hooked. “After that, I had to go to another dance class.”
She signed up for Tampa’s Got Talent because she thought it’d be a good opportunity to try and get a scholarship, but didn’t expect to be a winner.
“I just thought I’d get up there and have some fun. I love auditions, I love the adrenalin rush,” said Harvath. “I was very surprised.”
Harvath performed My New Philosophy from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Her performance won over the judges, and she received the scholarship prize of musical theater classes for the upcoming year.
“I saw Cinderella, and I was very impressed,” she said. “I’m excited to be part of PCYT.”

As part of her participation with Patel Conservatory Youth Theater, Jr., Elizabeth will be able to be in next spring's performance of Alice in Wonderland, Jr.
For Harvath’s mom, Meredith, driving from Safety Harbor is no big deal. She is accustomed to working around her daughter’s busy performance schedule.
This year, Elizabeth will homeschool in order to “make the curriculum fit around her life,” said Meredith.
The mom and daughter theater lovers have been to many shows at the Straz Center.
“We’ve gone to the Wednesday night talk-backs, and it’s just lit a fire in her that’s unbelievable,” said Meredith.
Elizabeth is always eager with questions for the performers, wanting to know how they got where they are. Recurring advice from the professionals is to practice auditioning.
Elizabeth is up for the challenge. And Meredith is willing to help her daughter along that journey. She adds, “if you don’t try, you can’t get there.”
Fall classes in music, theater and dance start soon for anyone from the beginners to avid performers. Do you have that fire inside of you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer intensive hosted talent from around the globe

Our recent Orlando Ballet School Summer Intensive has come to a close and it’s been an incredible two weeks, with talent from around the globe joining us at the Patel Conservatory.
Skyler Martin
Nearly 100 students came from 19 U.S. states, Canada and Brazil.

Skyler Martin, 18, of Ohio, traveled to Tampa from the Royal Ballet School in London, a prestigious year-round dance and academic program, for the opportunity to train with our dance department chair, Peter Stark.
“I worked with Peter [Stark] last summer, and I wanted the chance to work with him again,” said Martin.
Martin began dancing when he was about three years old because he was always tagging along to older sister Taylor’s classes. As the two progressed, teachers noticed something special in them and urged them to consider training at a performing arts school.
With their mom, Sherry, they moved to Cincinnati to attend the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Their dad commuted every weekend to spend time with the family.
They moved again to Orlando for a year to attend the Orlando Ballet School, where they worked with Stark.
“Peter’s been such a mentor for him,” said Sherry, “They really clicked.”
Taylor now dances for the Alabama Ballet in Birmingham, AL.
After participating in the Youth American Grand Prix last summer, Skyler was invited to attend the Royal Ballet on a year-round scholarship, an extraordinary accomplishment and honor.
“Royal Ballet is the ultimate goal for anyone wanting a career in ballet,” said Skyler, who’s been asked to return this fall for a second year. With Royal Ballet’s reputation for placing their students with a professional company, Skyler’s career looks promising.
Through our summer intensives and our top rated ballet program, we’re proud to host artists of Skyler’s caliber, and proud to be a part of the professional training that helps students like him from around the country and the globe reach their professional goals in the industry.

“[The Patel Conservatory] is a really nice facility,” said Skyler, “and with Peter as director, he’s always been great with helping people achieve their goals.”

Fall ballet classes begin soon. Click here for more information.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rock School Blowout rocks Ferguson Hall

Rock School veteran Alex Shames with the Ponzi Scheme.
Yesterday's Rock School Blowout rocked Ferguson Hall as audience members cheered, clapped and sang along to rock favorites that ranged from Bon Jovi to Jimmy Hendrix.

Thirteen bands showed off the work of their summer session in Rock School, proving once again that anyone can rock.

Special guest and Rock School veteran Alex Shames returned to the Straz Center for an incredible finale of two original songs.

"If it hadn't been for the program and instructors here at the Patel Conservatory, I wouldn't be where I am today," said Shames to the crowd.

Shames is now in a successful band in Sarasota, the Ponzi Scheme. He credits his start in the music world to his Rock School experience.

Rock School continues to grow and showed off some incredible musical talent at yesterday's concert,  from both returning members and those who just got started.

A new Rock School session begins this month, with placement auditions starting this Sat., Aug. 14. Band members are placed into groups according to skill level. For more information regarding auditions and registration, call 222-1002.