Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Patel Conservatory awarded "Outstanding School"

The Patel Conservatory is proud to have been awarded the “Outstanding School Award” at the recent Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York City.
This is an amazing accomplishment as more than 200 schools from around the world participated in this highly respected annual ballet competition.
Congratulations to the Patel Conservatory dance team on their many accomplishments at the competition. Six students from the Patel Conservatory were among only 300 finalists from more than 5000 applicants worldwide.
Next Generation Ballet new artist, Hannah Bettes won first place in her division. Even though she received multiple world-wide scholarship offers, she has decided to stay with us for another year of training!

Patel Conservatory won 2nd place ensemble for the Coppelia Pas de Duex.

Hannah Beach placed in the top 12 in her division.

Beach and Drew Nelson received full scholarships to The Royal Ballet School of England ($40,000 annually for 3 years).

Daniel Cooke received a full scholarship to the National Ballet of Canada School.
Finally, Drew Nelson and Hannah Bettes danced their pas de deux at the YAGP Gala at the City Center in New York this past Tuesday alongside stars from National Ballet of Cuba, Bolshoi Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. This was the same duet that they danced at the Guggenheim Museum in New York two weeks ago. Not only did they hold their own, but they were fantastic!
Just shows the top level of students and instructors at the Patel Conservatory.
Congratulations again to these students and the Patel Conservatory!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Join the Patel Conservatory Booster Club

Thanks so much to all the parents who attended the first meeting of the new Patel Conservatory Booster Club, and to those who've already signed up to help! We had a very enthusiastic showing at our first meeting, with some really great ideas and feedback!

The Booster Club is a group of volunteers who support the mission and programs of the Patel Conservatory. The Booster Club is currently assisting with the planning of the Spotlight Awards next spring. Sponsorships are available for this event.
If you are interested in offering your time or talent, please email Kim Bolton at

Ease on down to The Wiz this weekend!

Think you know The Wiz? Think again. It’s not the 70’s movie you might be imagining.
“It’s The Wiz of 2011, it’s the modern version,” said Ian Burns, the 18-year-old senior from Tampa Catholic who plays the Cowardly Lion. “The diversity of characters throughout the play is really cool and the music is very contemporary.”

Toni Morrison, Ben Mercado, Ian Burns and Joshua Walker

Burns has been acting since he was young. In addition to being involved with school and community productions throughout the years, he was in Gorilla Theatre’s Back Among the Flowers, and in Jesus Christ Superstar at St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
When his younger sister Kira began taking ballet at the Patel Conservatory five years ago, Ian discovered the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater (PCYT).
He’s since taken a variety of acting classes and played in PCYT’s summer production of Willy Wonka in 2009.
“I like the fact that the instructors are well educated. They’re not only teachers. They’ve experienced what it’s like to be in the field,” said Ian.
Ian ultimately hopes to be a professional actor. He appreciates the friends he’s made and the bonds he’s shared with fellow cast members of The Wiz.
For Ian, the message of the show is clear. “The show is about believing in yourself and being okay with who you are.”

Click on these links to see what Channel 10 and the St. Petersburg Times said about The Wiz.

The show opens this Thurs., Mar. 31 and plays through Sat., April 2. Get tickets here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Statues 'come alive' at exhibit opening

Last week, the Tampa Museum of Art opened their Degas Exhibit with a members, sponsors and donors night. Four dancers from our Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet participated in the opening by posing as living Degas images.

Thank you to Emma, Sara, Samantha and Bridgette, and the dance department, for making this event special!

The exhibit will be on display through June 19, 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Save the date for the Spotlight Awards

Announcing our first annual Spotlight Awards and fundraiser!

Think of it as our very own Oscar night - with awards and stellar performances!

We want to reward students who have displayed hard work and shown significant effort and strides in their respective craft. All parents, students and friends are invited to come celebrate one another's successes throughout the year.

The evening will begin with a fundraising dinner, followed by the Spotlight Awards show.

The show includes outstanding achievement awards for current students, interspersed with fabulous performances from all departments (dance, music and theater). It's your chance to get a glimpse of everything that happens at the Patel Conservatory!

We'll also honor 'graduating' seniors and present the Broadway League's Apple Award.

The Spotlight Awards will be Wed., May 18, 2011 with dinner beginning at 6 p.m., and the show starting at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets will be available through the Straz Center box office. More details about the show to come!
We are presently seeking the following sponsorships for the event:

Underwriting Sponsors
Program Ads
Donations of goods/services (food, decorations, paper products, etc.)

If you or someone you know would like to help sponsor this event, please contact Beth Miller at or 222-6453.

Announcing the Patel Conservatory Booster Club

Announcing the Patel Conservatory Booster Club!
Any parent or student who’d like to contribute to the fundraising efforts of the Patel Conservatory is invited to join us for the first Booster Club meeting on Thurs., Mar. 24 at 6:15 p.m. in Rehearsal Hall.
We’ll be discussing plans for our first event, the Spotlight Awards (set for May 18) and would love your help! We’ll need help with the planning, decorations, dinner and sponsorships.
We’ll also discuss the goals and mission of the new Booster Club, along with your ideas! 
RSVP for the meeting at or 813-222-6453.

Free Rock School Blowout concert this Saturday

Learning to the play the guitar, and learning to play the guitar with a band are two different things, according to Daniel Wilson.
Playing in a band is “definitely 100% more fun,” said Wilson, 15, from Hyde Park, a guitarist in our Rock School program.
Wilson and his band will be performing in this Saturday’s Rock School Blowout concert on the Riverwalk, along with 9 other bands.
“When you practice by yourself, if you mess up, you correct yourself and restart,” he said. “But when you play with a band, you can’t stop.You have to keep going and act like nothing happened. It’s a whole different skill set.”
Having been in the Rock School program since 5th grade, he’s had all three of our Rock School instructors.
“They’re all great,” said Wilson. “You pick a song, and they’ll have you playing the full song in an hour. All the parts, all the sounds, it’s amazing. I don’t know how they do it.”
Over the years, Wilson has picked up some bass and drums, having to wear different hats according to what the band needs.
Chris Kelly, 16, a junior at Jesuit High School, has also been in Rock School for years, starting with guitar and picking up some drums and bass along the way.
“Lee [Ahlin] is great. He can teach you pretty much anything you want to learn,” said Kelly,  who’s also performing with his band His Boy Elroy this Saturday.
“I actually can’t wait [for the concert], it should be a lot of fun,” he said.
If you play an instrument, or think you want to learn to play in a band, come check these guys out this Saturday at 1 p.m. It's free!
“It’s a full blown concert with the mics, amplifiers, full sound team on the mixing board, said Wilson. “It’s definitely something you have to experience as a musician.”

For those interested in signing up for Rock School this summer, placement auditions (sounds scarier than it is... it's just to place you in the appropriate band for your skill level) will be May 21 and June 4, both starting at 1 p.m. RSVP for auditions by calling our music department at 222-1273.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Patel Conservatory student gives back

When most kids think spring break, they think beaches, sleeping late and video games. Patel Conservatory student Lilly Strieder has other plans.
Strieder in The Nutcracker in Dec., 2010
While other kids will be lounging around and roaming the mall, Lilly will be spending the next two weeks with fellow students from Indian Rocks Christian School on a mission to Thailand.

Lilly and her classmates (and four chaperones) will be delivering school and arts supplies and helping teach a sports camp for under-privileged kids at the Mercy School near the Laos border. Lilly was one of 15 students chosen to attend the mission organized by her school.
“The trip is a cultural exchange,” explained Susan Strieder. “They want to represent American youth in the best light possible.”
One of Lilly’s inspirations for wanting to go on the trip was her tap teacher, Susan Downey. Over Christmas break, Lilly performed with Downey’s tap students performed at Metropolitan Ministries, one of the Patel Conservatory’s Community Partners.
“Seeing all the students volunteer their free time really meant to a lot to her,” said Susan, Lilly’s mother.
Lilly spends six days a week at the Patel Conservatory, taking tap, ballet and voice, commuting from Indian Rocks Beach. She wanted to participate with this particular mission so she can pass along the things she’s learned here to underprivileged kids in another part of the world.
She'll be teaching dance and singing to the Thai kids in the sports camp. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m looking forward to giving them some of the things I’ve been given,” she said.

After their mission, on the way back, the group will be stopping in China and climbing the Great Wall. “I’m looking forward to seeing other cultures. It’s a completely different world over there," she said.
We’re thrilled to have our students sharing their love of the performing arts! Kudos to Lilly for giving her time and talent, and warm wishes to her and her classmates for a safe trip!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Patel Conservatory students compete in YAGP finals in New York this week

The height of the leg extensions, the strength and balance as they lift and hold their poses, and the un-ending pirouettes that dazzle...
Patel Conservatory staff, parents and students were treated to a stunning dance performance this afternoon.
Students headed to New York this week for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) finals gave a preview of their competition pieces to a small, informal audience. This was their last chance to perform in front of an audience before leaving for the finals.
Two of the dancers, Hannah Bettes and Drew Nelson, were featured last week at the Guggenheim Museum in New York at the “Works & Process” series. They will be among the six students representing the Patel Conservatory at the YAGP finals.
Bettes and Nelson join Hannah Beach, Caitlin Birt, Sofia Saari and Daniel Cooke in an elite group of only 300 students chosen from 5000 world-wide for YAGP finals. The competition offers opportunities for scholarships to the world’s best dance schools and job opportunities with the world’s finest ballet companies. Two of our dancers already have major interest from the Royal Ballet School in England.
We wish them all the best as they venture to New York for this amazing opportunity!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Upcoming events at the Patel Conservatory

So much always happening at this fine institution...
Bring your kids! Bring your friends! Share on your FB page!

Contemporary Dance Show - Fri., Mar. 11 - come be inspired by amazing dancers from NGB and around Tampa!

Summer Sign-up Splash - Sat., Mar. 12 - Get the skinny on summer camps around Tampa Bay. Last day to get 10% off Patel Conservatory summer camps and classes.

Book Signing - Wed., Mar. 15 - A visit from author and former NYC Ballet dancer Jacques d'Amboise.

Adult Stand-up Comedy Showcase - Tues., Mar. 22 - Come laugh with us! Sign up for the summer comedy class by Sat. for 10% off!

Rock School Blowout - Sat., Mar. 26 - Free concert overlooking the river. If you've ever wanted to play an instrument, come check it out! Look for behind-the-scenes interviews with band members to come. Sign up for summer Rock School by Sat., Mar. 12 and get 10% off!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NGB dancer in the news

TAMPA TRIBUNE PHOTO, provided by Bowen Family

Next Generation Ballet trainee Gillian Bowen was featured today on the Tampa Tribune website. Her father, Stephen Bowen, is part of the Discovery space shuttle crew who went up on a mission last week and is scheduled to return to earth tomorrow.
Last week, Gillian joined several Patel Conservatory instructors as well as members of her Tampa host family, John and Deana Buckley, at Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of Discovery.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her and family for a safe landing! (check out NASA's landing blog and live coverage here.)

Now accepting applications for community partnerships

The Patel Conservatory is currently accepting applications for its 2011-2012 Community Partnerships.
The purpose of community partnerships is to develop performing arts educational experiences with agencies, schools and community organizations in the Tampa Bay area. 
Through these unique outreach efforts, we offer a variety of arts experiences in dance, music and theater, for disadvantaged, under-privileged or underserved students, providing them exposure to the performing arts.

"I'm excited about the work we do in the community through our partnerships," said Tina James, the Education Programs Coordinator. "Through these partnerships, we provide these organizations with opportunities they probably wouldn't otherwise receive."
Applications to be a Community Partner are due by Friday, April 1, 2011. Partner schools or organizations are selected by the Straz Center based on need and expressed commitment.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Audition tips to help you snag that next part

When it comes to auditioning, we imagine A Chorus Line, the dancers and singers lined up under the lights, waiting, their fate in the hands of the director.
You want to be part of that elusive group backstage...the cast. It means you’ve arrived, you’re part of the show.
So how do you nab the part?
Whether you’re looking for a part in our Patel Conservatory Youth Theater (PCYT) program or any show, auditioning doesn't have to be so scary. It's part of the process in the entertainment industry and the more practice you get, the better and more relaxed you'll be.
Here’s a few tips from Patel Conservatory theater instructor Ami Sallee on how to approach an audition.
  • Keep in mind, they want you to do well. Directors and casting directors aren’t out to get you. They're eager to find talent to cast their show, so they're rooting for you to do great!
  • Only bring sheet music with which you've practiced. Sheet music can be different from a recorded version of a song. So make sure you don’t try anything you haven’t practiced.
  • Stay within your comfort range. An audition is not a place to try to something new or adventurous. When it comes to age range, note range or the range of emotional depth of a character, stay within your comfort zone.  
  • Don’t try to be the best in the room, just be the best you! If you have the opportunity to watch others audition before you, you may second-guess your choices. Don’t! Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. Feel comfortable in your own shoes and do the best that you can do. There's only one you, and you may be just who they're looking for!
This summer, the Patel Conservatory offers workshops to help you prepare for the fall PCYT season and beyond. Check out audition workshops for PCYT.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Resident artists to perform in YAGP tour

The Patel Conservatory is proud to have two of our Next Generation Ballet (NGB) dancers performing this weekend in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Gala tour, Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow.
The prestigious YAGP Gala is held annually in New York City and features stars from top ballet companies alongside up-and-coming talent. This is the first year that the Gala will go on tour.
Drew Nelson and Hannah Bettes, Next Generation Ballet new artists, were chosen for the Gala based on their performance in the regional YAGP competition last fall. They’ll be performing the wedding duet from the ballet Coppelia, the same piece that won them first place in the pas de deux category at regionals.
“It will be a little different for the Gala,” said Nelson. “We’ll be performing two variations, or solos, and then come back together for a finale.”
Nelson, 15, originally from Omaha, NE, lived in New Jersey for 10 years and has trained with the School of American Ballet and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre. He moved to Tampa last summer to train with Peter Stark, dance department chair of the Patel Conservatory.

Bettes, 14, of Deland, FL, also moved to Tampa to study with Stark.
“It’s non-stop dancing, which I love,” she said of her NGB schedule. “And the coaching is excellent.”
Both are thrilled to be dancing in the YAGP Gala tour.
“Any chance you get to perform is a unique one,” said Nelson. “This is definitely a big opportunity to see what it will be like as a professional.”
Of the thousands who competed in YAGP regionals around the globe, Nelson and Bettes were among only 300 who will compete in YAGP finals in New York City later this month.