Friday, January 28, 2011

Catch our ballet students in this weekend's Gaspar Ballet

Many students in our ballet programs are gearing up for pirate festivities this weekend. No, they won’t be parading down Bayshore. They’ll be pirouetting on stage in Ferguson Hall in this Sunday’s Gaspar Ballet.
Lilly Strieder in The Nutcracker in Dec., 2010
Lilly Strieder, 16, is thrilled to be sharing the stage with principal dancers from New York and Philadelphia.
“It’s so spectacular getting to see professionals dance every day,” said Strieder, of Indian Rocks Beach, who joined the Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet a year and a half ago.
Strieder auditioned for the Gaspar Ballet last August and earned a part in the ensemble. Also in the show are dancers from Next Generation Ballet and across Tampa Bay. The show is a reincarnation of the ballet by Christopher Fleming that premiered here at the Straz Center (then the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) in 1994.

"It's got a lot of sword fighting," said Strieder. "The rehearsals are long, but this is only for a few weeks."
Strieder's had to take the last two weeks off from school for the rehearsal schedule. She does her school work in the evenings and on breaks.
“I think I’m going to be here until 9 o’clock tonight,” she said on her lunch break this afternoon. But she doesn’t mind the hours. “It’s definitely more fun than being at school.
“Just watching [the principals] is inspirational.”

The show will be this Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New theater chair embraces energy of the Patel Conservatory

Gigi Jennewein is still catching her breath. Since the beginning of January, when Jennewein officially joined us as theater department chair, it’s been a whirlwind of activity.
Coming from an academic environment to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, where touring casts of Broadway shows might drop in to your class unexpectedly, has been surprisingly challenging and exciting.
“I didn’t necessarily realize we’re so open to spontaneity. We respond to opportunities and offer those to our students,” she said as we sat out by the river at the Straz Center last week.
It was a warm day, so she was thrilled to be outside. Though she grew up here in Tampa, she’s been in Indiana for the past 16 years, so the concept of sitting outside in January is still a novelty.
Being new to the Patel Conservatory, Jennewein appreciates the things that make us so unique, like being connected to the Straz Center.
“The environment here mimics more closely what a performer will experience in a professional environment,” she said
“When the cast of Wonderland came in and worked with the students for two hours, they were enthralled. We’re extremely lucky to have access to working artists who both inspire young artists and reinforce what we teach.”
While Jennewein has worked as an actor and director over the years as her former position at DePauw University would allow, she’s been more rooted in academics and felt that she was losing touch with the business side of the performing arts.
Show business is fast-paced and exciting, and she definitely gets that energy at the Patel Conservatory, where there’s a constant stream of activity from live performances at the Straz Center to educational outreaches and events.
“It’s been challenging yet thrilling at the same time. I’m glad to be a part of it again.”
Jennewein has a 7 year-old black lab, Abby and loves to run and sail. She has two children, Hannah, 24, who lives in Chicago, and Quinn, 22, who lives in Providence. While she’s happy to be back in Tampa, she still commutes to Indiana often to spend time with husband Bill Fenlon, head coach of the DePauw University basketball team. 
“I’m actually living with my parents, in the same room I grew up in,” she laughed. It’s definitely been an interesting month as she figures out a new job, new home and a long-distance marriage.
In addition to teaching the high school acting class, she’s been working with the education department on developing a stronger theater curriculum and helping with the accreditation process. The Patel Conservatory is working towards offering academic credit for its performing arts classes.
All she can share at this point is, “Look for exciting changes in our theater program!”

Try a class for free in dance, theater or music

You’d be surprised by how many people still don’t know that the Patel Conservatory exists here at the Straz Center!
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you or your kids already take classes here and you love our progams. We want your help in getting the word out to everyone in our community about the amazing and diverse class schedule here at the Patel Conservatory. How? It’s simple...
Next week, Jan. 2 - Feb. 5, we’re offering the opportunity to Try a Class for Free! Anyone is welcome to come in and try or observe most classes on our schedule in dance, theater or music.
Help spread the word!
  • Share this link on your Facebook page.
  • Email this link to friends and family and let them know about this opportunity!
  • Bring a friend to your favorite class.
  • Come in yourself and try or observe any one of more than 100 classes in in music, theater and dance!
  • Tweet your plans to try it!
Get your body moving in one of our adult dance classes, or let your preschooler explore in Making Music Magic or Creative Drama.
Now is the time! Classes are available for children and adults of all ages and skill levels. Explore your own potential, reach for your dreams, discover new talent and create magic. It's all right here within reach at the beautiful downtown campus at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Already enrolled at the Patel Conservatory? Bring a friend to class. If your friend enrolls, you'll receive one month's free tuition!
View a complete list of classes here, then simply register to try or observe your favorites by calling 222-1002. We'll see you next week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Apply now for Access Arts Scholarships

Last week, our community ambassadors delivered Access Arts information
packets to more than 200 Hillsborough County Schools! It was a big
project, but our goal is to get the word out about our Access Arts
scholarships at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa.
If you are interested in our summer camps and classes in dance, music and theater, and demonstrate financial need, here's some information about our Access Arts program...
What is Access Arts?
Access Arts provides scholarships to underserved children. With the help
of teachers and staff, children who are interested in the performing
arts are identified. Interested students complete an application and
interview. Qualified students receive scholarships to age-appropriate
classes and camps in dance, music and/or theater at the Patel
Conservatory at the Straz Center.
Who can apply?
Access Arts scholarships are available for deserving students and
families with demonstrated need who submit the required application and
necessary paperwork by the deadline.
When is the deadline?
Applications (and all other paperwork) for the Access Arts scholarships
are due by March 4, 2011.
Where do I get an application?
Applications are available at your school's guidance office, or you can
download it from our website.
For more information about the Access Arts program, or questions about
the application, please call Kristen Bracy at 813-222-6413.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get your start in the business with on-camera acting workshops

Ever thought you wanted to be an actor?
Madeline Voges
Madeline Voges got her start in the film industry with our On-Camera Acting Workshop at the Patel Conservatory six years ago. Now she’s at Tisch School of the Arts in New York City studying acting, voice and dance and getting roles in student films, and she recently completed an internship with Lorne Michaels’ production company.
But it didn’t happen overnight. Voges started singing and dancing in school plays like a lot of kids.
“I liked singing at all the programs at my school [Carrollwood Day School],” said Voges, 20. Her parents frequently saw shows at the Straz Center (then the Performing Arts Center) and discovered the Patel Conservatory before the building even opened.
“Since I had already done theater, I wanted to try on-camera. It was a completely new opportunity. It was different and fun,” said Voges.
The seed was planted and Voges started thinking about a career behind the camera. She continued classes and private coaching with instructor Eugenie Bondurant.
“She’s just amazing,” said Voges. “I just love the environment [at the Patel Conservatory]. It’s so welcoming. I was a little self-conscious in middle school because being into acting wasn’t that cool. But I felt comfortable [at the Patel Conservatory]. I was encouraged to be my own person. Going there was like my second home.”
Voges took an array of classes from dance to theater, and soon started landing roles in community theaters.
When she applied to Tisch, she received coaching from Bondurant and another of her instructors Ami Sallee.
“Tisch was my reach school. I didn’t expect to get in. I cried when I found out I made it!” said Voges.
Now she’s meeting people on both sides of the business, learning behind-the-scenes of production, studying and networking, and loving living in New York.

She recently had the lead in a 30-minute student film at New York Film Academy where they shot all over New York City. "It was very professional, with people standing around watching us. I felt very official," she laughed.

While working at Broadway Video, "We would go over to the set of 30 Rock daily and I got to meet a lot of the crew there, " she said. "It felt pretty cool getting an insiders' perspective. It gave me a new appreciation for the other side of the craft."

When she talks about the Patel Conservatory, she excitedly cites numerous examples of the many experiences that have developed her talents and professionalism. She credits her success today to the start she got here.
“I’m so grateful to the Patel for giving me the opportunity to learn how to network and study my craft. It really prepared me for New York,” said Voges.
Everyone starts somewhere. Get your start in a completely safe, comfortable setting with on-camera workshops.
In February, our On-Camera Acting workshop series continues with “Honestly on camera.” With two sessions (adults, and middle through high school), this workshop focuses on the process of creating believable characters on camera.
Magic doesn’t happen if you don’t let it. Let go of your inhibitions and follow your path on your own creative journey.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whirlwind tour finds talent for summer program

Our dance department chair Peter Stark has been traveling from city to city every weekend this month to find talented dancers for Next Generation Ballet’s Summer Intensive program.
“Wow! What a great turnout we've had overall for our national Summer Intensive audition tour. So much talent, and I'm thrilled to see so many students that are interested in our year-round trainee program. We’ve auditioned students in Seattle, Portland, Tampa, Boca Raton, Alpharetta and Atlanta GA, Columbus, OH, Washington DC and Cincinnatti. Many more to go - can't wait!!!” - Peter Stark

The five-week Summer Intensive program program features six hours of daily classes Monday through Friday, and 2 1/2 hours on Saturday in six beautiful studios here at the Patel Conservatory. All students participate in the final showcase at Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Straz stars offer free master classes!

Don’t miss your opportunity to work with visiting artists at the Straz Center this weekend!
Join the members of The Improvised Shakespeare Company for a free acting workshop tomorrow, Sat., Jan. 15, at 9 a.m. in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center.
Utilizing improvisation and comedy, the Improvised Shakespeare Company has developed a unique and interactive approach to deepening a student's understanding of Shakespeare's texts. In the Improvised Shakespeare Company workshop, students learn some of the basic rules of Elizabethan dialogue and then work together to create their own Elizabethan prose on the spot.
Don’t miss this fun and educational opportunity! Space is limited. Please RSVP to 813-222-1267.

Next month, the stars of the upcoming show Tango Fire, will offer a free master class in the TECO Theater at the Patel Conservatory. It’s your chance to learn from and dance with the stars!
The class is free, but space is limited, so RSVP to reserve your spot by Jan. 21. Call 813-222-1002.

Wonderland cast visits our classes!

The cool thing about being a part of the Straz Center is sharing a building with the talented artists who grace our stages.

Touring cast members from Broadway productions and other shows frequently carve the time out of their schedules to offer free classes to our Patel Conservatory students. What a fabulous opportunity!

This week, the cast of Wonderland has offered their expertise to our students before they head up to New York next week to prep for their Broadway premier.

Darren Ritchie, who plays the White Knight and Jack, and whose Broadway credits include Les Miserables and Little Shop of Horrors, worked with our high school acting class this week.

From left, Llana, Ferguson, Rubio
Other cast members, including Jose Llana, Julius Rubio, Heather Parcells and Derek Ferguson, dropped in on the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater class last night. They offered students getting ready for The Wiz advice on how to prepare for auditions. Parcells, whose experience includes two years in A Chorus Line on Broadway, taught the students dance for two hours before taking the stage as part of the Wonderland ensemble.

They also talked about their own performance backgrounds, giving the kids invaluable exposure to working professionals in the industry.

In turn, the cast was inspired by the ambition of our students and the faculty. So, thanks to the cast of Wonderland for reinforcing the same principles that we teach in our classes!
Rubio and Ferguson will work with Orange Grove Middle School today during an outreach class.
You can still catch Wonderland through Sunday. It’s your final weekend to see the show before it hits Broadway in April!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kids learn lifelong skills at outreach theater class

By Leslie Farrell, Patel Conservatory Publicist
Waiting in the lobby at Metropolitan Ministries, I’m struck by the happy children. Under their mothers’ observant eyes, toddlers run exuberantly back and forth in the lobby, which feels a little intimidating because of the locked entrance. As the PR person for the Patel Conservatory, I’m waiting for a Tampa Tribune reporter and photographer and appreciate the opportunity to hang out in the Met Min lobby before the theater class that brings us together. 
On this day, eight teenagers have arrived for a theater class, taught by Patel Conservatory instructor Matthew Belopavlovich. The Patel Conservatory (at the Straz Center) provides outreaches like this one, free of charge, to about 40 different non-profit organizations, including Metropolitan Ministries. 
Matthew immediately makes the teenagers comfortable by playing a seemingly silly theater game that has them laughing boisterously and jumping enthusiastically within minutes. The kids, who all live at Metropolitan Ministries, are subtly preparing for a performance, creating a challenge for Matthew who can’t be sure who will attend the class each week. Residents are allowed limited stays.
The teens interact easily with each other and it’s obvious they feel safe, comfortable and confident in this setting. They move across the floor, enjoying the experience. When asked about this class, one boy says earnestly that he knows it’s a privilege to be here. “It’s fun, something new to do and it’s a lifetime experience. Most kids don’t get the opportunity to do this,” he explains. 
Matthew teaches skills beyond the scope of theater. He wants these teens to learn skills to help them in their lives. One game involving improvisation stresses listening. He knows that whatever they do in life, the skill of listening (which is much underrated and is invaluable) will help them. 
In this classroom, there are many distractions. Unlike the Patel Conservatory classroom, which is equipped with state-of-the-art materials and devoid of distractions, this space screams “multi-purpose.” The room is cluttered with air hockey and pool tables, and lined with computers the students use after theater class. Chairs that don’t match and a variety of objects lie on and under tables. But the kids are focused and appreciative. I’m personally impressed with how well Matthew leads these teenagers and by how engaged they are. And as always, I’m grateful to Metropolitan Ministries for its role in our community.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Did you know you can register online?

Did you know that you can register online for most of our classes?

"We're happy to offer this convenient option, especially this time of year when our phones are busier," said Claire Olson, Patel Conservatory registrar.

Simply go to our online class schedule, click on any one of over 100 classes in dance, theater and music for a class description. Then click on the 'Register Now' link to the left.

Please note, for classes that require a placement audition (to place you in the class that best suits your needs), you must register in person or over the phone with the registrar once you complete your assessment.

Also note that some classes run the full school year. Tuition shown in the online registration process reflects the full year's tuition. However, students will only be charged for the remainder of the year for classes that run through May.

"It is a newer system, so we're still working on it. If you do register online and encounter any issues, please send us your comments," said Olson. "We'd love to hear suggestions from you on how to make it more user-friendly."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Take a break from reality with any of our adult classes

We had so much fun at the free beginning tap class today! At the outset of the class, everyone looked somewhat unsure.
We ranged in age from college to seniors, yet we all had the same timid look on our faces. Some people had taken tap years ago, some were currently enrolled Patel Conservatory students, and some had never taken a dance class in their lives.
Susan Downey, the instructor, immediately made everyone feel at home. We jumped right in, tapping on cue to Jai Ho. So much fun!
Before you know it, we were shuffling our feet to Cotton Eyed Joe, and step ball changing to the Love Shack, baby.
I’ve always loved to dance, to anything from rap to Broadway tunes. In all my years of dance classes, though, I never took much tap. I recall doing one tap number in South Pacific 16 years ago, but I forgot how much work it actually is. You’d be surprised how much of a sweat you can work up by just tapping your feet. It’s totally exhilarating!
And you gotta love that sound. Today’s group was amazing. With everyone on the beat, about 25 of us stomping to the music...well, it just made me think Riverdance!
As Downey said in her ABC News interview last week, when you’re concentrating on what your feet are supposed to be doing, you truly do forget about everything else. What an awesome break from reality.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m eager to return, ready for the next challenge, and grand visions of Gene Kelly choreography by May.

It's not too late to try the any of the adult dance classes. You can register any time for any of our classes, from modern to hip hop. You can also try a sampling of all of our classes with the college student or adult dance card. Purchase a 5-class or 10-class card to take a variety of classes at various times. This is the perfect solution for someone who can't commit to the same time slot every week.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free classes this week

In case you're just getting caught up and missed our previous posts, here's a list of free classes and auditions happening this week at the Patel Conservatory...please share with your friends!
Adult tap dance class - Friday, Jan. 7 at noon. No experience necessary. To RSVP, call 222-1002. See what ABC News says about it... click here
An Introduction to Suzuki – the language of music - Sun., Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. Free, informational presentation about the Suzuki method of teaching violin to children ages 3 and up. 

Advanced Ballet Master Class with Peter Stark - Thurs., Jan. 6 from 5-6:30 p.m. For students 8-12 with several years of serious, advanced ballet training. Young women must have at least three years of experience on pointe.

Intermediate Ballet Master Class with Peter Stark - Mon., Jan. 10 from 6-7:30 p.m. For students in grades 6-12 with a minimum of four years of consistent ballet training.

Music Auditions:
Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra - Sat., Jan. 8 starting at 2 p.m.
Patel Conservatory Jazz Ensemble - Sat., Jan. 8 starting at 2 p.m.