Friday, July 29, 2011

Theater guest blog: Seussical gets a blissful standing ovation

Guest blog from Patel Conservatory Summer Theater production
by Aliya Burshan, cast member of PCYT's Seussical the Musical, Jr.

After three weeks of hard work and determination, it all paid off when we put on two amazing shows on Thursday, July 21st and Friday July 22nd.

For my friends and I, it was an amazing experience to learn about dance, music, and theater. At the end of each performance, it was bliss to my ears to hear the audience applause and give us a standing ovation. Of course, like every show, we had a few minor mistakes, but the good thing is, the cast are the only ones who know it.

When we left the theater after the last show, there were a lot of tears. It was sad that all of the great times we have had as a family were ending.

Here's a few pictures I took of some of the characters backstage!

Thanks so much to Aliya, our guest blogger. Seussical, Jr. was a fantastic show! We hope you all enjoy what's left of your summer, and we'll see you in the fall!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NGB guest blog: lessons learned

By Amber Shriver, NGB summer intensive dancer and Patel Conservatory marketing intern.

Advice I Wish I Had Been Told
When I first found out that as part of my marketing internship I would be writing a guest blog, I remember calling my little sister and asking her, “Who is going to want to read about what I have to say?  My life is so boring.”
Now, 5 weeks and nearly 250 readers later, I am more worried about not having enough to say rather than not having enough people listen. However, it is nice to believe that there are people reading my blogs and that my thoughts and words do make a difference. So for one of my last blogs, I thought I’d take a moment and write about the advice I wish I had been told.
To be honest, I have been very blessed to have a wide variety of great mentors throughout my life, so a better title for this entry may actually be Advice That I Was Told and Wished I Had Listened.
Enjoy every class, every audition, every performance, and every moment, good or bad for what it is, because you don’t get a chance to go back.
When I was growing up, my family used to listen to Billy Joel’s Scenes from an Italian Restaurant when going on vacation. One of my favorite lines from that song was, “And the king and the queen went back to the green, but you can never go back there again.” To me, it's such a great reminder that we don’t get to repeat the good or the bad moments in our lives. Whether it’s high school, or a performance, or even just a dance class with a really good teacher.
Often, as dancers we tend to take dancing for granted. By the 5th week of an intensive dance program or the 7th show in a two-week run of The Nutcracker, dancing can seem more like an obligation than a privilege. We forget the millions of people in the world who will never have the opportunity to dance, and who don’t have the opportunity to spend all day immersed in something they love. Sometimes it’s easy to become so absorbed in trying to make our imperfections more perfect and our weaknesses stronger, that we forget to really stop and just enjoy the time we are given.

Appreciate each day that you are lucky enough to go to class, to mess up and to get another chance the next day to try again. And don’t spend your time looking back on when things may have felt better or when your life seemed to work out better. In life we don’t get to go back to the moments when we felt like “the king and the queen”, but we also don’t have to go back to the moments when we did not. And since we don’t know what the future holds as we move forward, it makes sense to enjoy every moment, even the hard ones.
Not everyone in your life is looking out for you.
I’ve always been very lucky in my life to be surrounded by great friends, teachers, family and mentors who look out for my best interests. However, I’ve also learned that not everyone cares about me the way those amazing people do.
As hard as it is not to listen to the people who don’t care, when they tell you that you will not be successful or when they make you feel worthless, you can’t let their criticism dictate how you feel about yourself or your perception of your own capabilities.
There will be people who try to constructively help you grow as a person, and there will those who try to destroy you as a person. Surround yourself with the ones who are willing to help you grow. You don’t get to decide how people view you, but you do get to decide how you react to their opinions. Don’t let people who don’t care about you determine how you feel about yourself because you are far too valuable to let your self-worth be defined by others.
In 10 years your GPA, who your friends were, your S.A.T. score, what colleges you got into, what you wore to prom won’t matter.
I think one of the most shocking moments in my life was sometime during my freshman year in college when I realized that nobody cared what table I sat at during lunch in high school.  I guess in the back of my mind, I thought that I could walk into a job interview and when they asked me what my qualifications for the job were I could tell them, “Well, I sat at the cool lunch table in high school,” and they’d be impressed. It was also equally shocking when I discovered that teachers no longer asked my high school GPA, my class rank or my SAT score.

At some point, all the things which define you in high school cease to matter. And all the time you spent obsessing over those things is wasted. And what you are left with is what you actually learned during your time there, and your ability to apply that knowledge to shape the world around you. Taxpayers invest several hundreds of thousands of dollars to educate you. It’s your responsibility to make a return on that investment and use what you learned in high school to make the world a better place. That requires more than just being pretty, smart or popular. While it’s important to earn good grades, get it into a good college and surround yourself with people who honestly care about you, it is more important to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that you worked your hardest and that what you did helped to make someone else’s life easier.
You do not have to lie, cheat or steal to be successful.
I think one of the best audition tips I’ve ever heard, is that your body can’t lie. Your dancing will always show the amount of hard work, time and effort you put into it.
You can talk yourself up, go to the best schools or try really hard during an audition, but at the end of the day, your body won’t lie for you. It’s a good mantra to remember, not just as you try to calm down before an audition, but also as you prepare for one.

It often seems like you’re surrounded by people who are cheating the system, or are lying to get ahead, or who just aren’t working but are still successful. But the truth is, their lack of integrity and work ethic will eventually catch up with them because you can’t live a lie long term.

Try to bring a sense of integrity to everything you do, and have faith that it will pay off in the long run. Because there is value in knowing that you did the best that you could, and although it may not have been enough, it was the best that you personally could do.
Be proud of yourself, recognize that you are a work in progress, recognize your weaknesses, and while you work to correct them, don’t waste time trying to cover them up by lying or cheating or stealing; because whether you like it or not, those weaknesses are yours, and you will not be able to hide from them forever.
There’s always a bigger picture that is still being painted.
Sometimes you work hard, you play by the rules and you let the littlest thing, one failed relationship, one rejection, one bad audition, one failed class derail you. I am sure that as you look back, you can make a list of millions of things that seemed like the end of the world at the time but now just seem inconsequential. Sometimes the hardest thing to remember is that the story isn’t over, the picture isn’t finished, the journey has just begun. And what seems like the end of the world, is just a speed bump on the road to something bigger.
Don’t give up, remember that something bigger and better is waiting for you and that there is virtually nothing in life that can’t be undone and can’t be fixed. Although some mistakes take more work to repair than others, you do get second and third and fourth and fifth chances. So don’t let your failures, mistakes or bad days be the end.
Sometimes, the biggest leap of faith is simply facing up to whatever is in your way, and believing that hard work will be enough to overcome it, no matter how monumental it is.  Because something is only the end if you let it be. And you can choose to be defined by what didn’t work out, or by what you did afterwards. Work hard and work with integrity; have faith that you were made for a purpose, and that how you live your life is instrumental in making the world a better place; and take time to laugh with genuine friends and just to enjoy every moment you are given. That way, even if you are not successful, you will at least be happy.

Please share your comments...what's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten, or the hardest thing you've had to learn?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guest artists perform in NGB's Summer Fantasy

Lia Cirio, of the Boston Ballet, was a guest
instructor for NGB's summer intensive and
will perform this Friday in Ferguson Hall
in NGB's Summer Fantasy.
The Patel Conservatory in Tampa is thrilled to welcome guest artists Lia and Jeffrey Cirio of the Boston Ballet, and Dylan G-Bowley of the contemporary Trey McIntyre Project, this Friday in Next Generation Ballet’s Summer Fantasy.

We invite you to be dazzled by the incredible talent of both our guest artists and NGB’s summer intensive dancers.
“I feel like there’s something special going on here,” said Jeffrey Cirio regarding the Patel Conservatory’s blooming ballet program.
In the past year, under the direction of artistic director Peter Stark, the Conservatory developed its pre-professional ballet company Next Generation Ballet (NGB), which produced two full scale ballets, The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Jeffrey guest starred as the Snow King in NGB's The Nutcracker, and this summer he and his sister Lia joined us as guest instructors for NGB’s first summer intensive, which included nearly 200 dancers from around the country and the greater Tampa Bay area.
“Peter Stark has such great things to bring to the ballet world,” said Jeffrey.
NGB's summer program has nurtured exceptional talent, and will culminate in this Friday’s Summer Fantasy production.
“It’s always fun to teach young kids,” said Lia Cirio. At just 25 years old, Lia has been with Boston Ballet for eight years. “Teaching reminds me of things I have to remember to do myself. As dancers, we’re always learning.”
She advises young dancers, “Always dance really big. You don’t want to be just another black leotard. You want to stand out and show your personality.” 

Don’t miss your opportunity to see Lia and Jeffrey Cirio perform the classical Le Corsaire Pas de Deux this Friday, July 29, 2011, at 7 p.m. in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center. Click here for tickets.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotlight on Christina Solazzo

Before she could even speak, she could sing.
When Christina Solazzo was a baby, her speech articulation was slightly delayed, said mom Adele Solazzo. “But when she sang, you couldn’t tell, she was able to mimic the sounds she heard.”
Christina learned to read at a young age because she was anxious to sing the songs in the hymnal at church.
Christina Solazzo as Chava in her high school
production of Fiddler on the Roof
Now 16 years old, Christina is able to move audiences with her melodious voice.
“I like that I can affect how people feel,” said Christina. “When I see that I’ve been able to make them cry, when I can control an audience, I love that I can convey that much passion.”
Christina has sung in church and school choirs her whole life. She sang with the Ruth Eckerd Hall Teen Choir for many years and has been in many musical theater productions. This past year, she played a lead role as Chava in Fiddler on the Roof at Palm Harbor University High School.
She’s studied voice extensively, including a voice intensive at Walnut Hill in Natick, Mass., and an opera program in Italy through Spoleto Study Abroad.
“One of the most import things for a young voice is to get the right training,” said Adele. That’s why, for years, she’s commuted from Palm Harbor to the Patel Conservatory in Tampa for voice lessons for Christina.
She tried other voice teachers closer to home, but “we noticed her voice was getting a little hoarse and we were concerned about that,” said Adele. “We came back to the Patel Conservatory because we wanted to find someone to help her prepare for college auditions. We wanted high quality training that would offer protection for her voice.”
Christina will be participating in our Vocal Arts Academy, which was recently featured on Fox 13's Good Day Tampa Bay.
“I’m really excited because I’ll get to work with a lot of good teachers who can help me improve in areas that I struggle with. We’ll also work on acting, posture and movement,” said Christina, who describes her style as classical and operatic.

"I like to sing opera the most because I feel like it's more difficult," she said. "I like the fact that it's a challenge."
One of her favorite artists is Regina Spektor, a Russian pop singer. “Her lyrics are very poetic, and she uses a lot of piano.”
This fall, Christina will be taking an upper level music course at her high school which will include composing. She also hopes to be a part of the thespian group, and she’ll continue private lessons at the Patel Conservatory.
“I honestly think the instruction at the Patel Conservatory has been by far the best,” she said. “They don’t try to get you to sing a certain way. They help you improve your voice and keep it safe.”

For more information about the Patel Conservatory's vocal arts program, click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Auditions for fall Rock School

Placement auditions for the fall Rock School session at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa will be in August.
If you've ever thought about playing drums, guitar, bass guitar or keyboards in a rock band, you're invited to our upcoming auditions.

The auditions help instructors place students in a band according to their playing level. All levels are welcome, from beginners to advanced!
At the end of the class, you’ll be rocking out in concert!
Auditions will take place:
Aug. 13., 2011 at 3 p.m.
Aug 16., 2011 at 6 p.m.
Aug 23., 2011 at 6 p.m.
Anyone interested in scheduling an audition should contact Dee Lynch at, or call 813-222-6411.

Come rock with us...there's still time to sign up for summer camps!

Rock and Roll Camp, June, 2011
Our summer is heating up with week after week of creativity, shows and performances, and kids having a great time!
At the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, we still have openings in many of our summer camps, including our on-camera Reality TV camp, Vocal Arts Academy and the popular Rock and Roll camp!

Hunter Loiselle signed up for Rock and Roll Camp expecting to play guitar. He’d taken lessons on and off for a couple of years.
On the first day, the instructors place the kids into groups to assess their skills and interests and assign them to bands, said Rock and Roll Camp instructor Evan LeFloch. Hunter tested out the drums and took a liking to it.

“Some kids have had lessons, but a lot of them have never played an instrument before,” said LeFloch. “Hunter had never played drums before, but he had a knack for it.”
Once the bands are formed, the kids learn the components of creating a rock band, including guitar, drums and vocal instruction, as well as stage presence, songwriting and production. It all comes together in a final performance at the end of the week.
“He was playing the drums like a pro by the end of the week,” said Barbara Smith, Hunter’s mom. “He had a great time...he now wants drums!”
Rock and Roll Camp, June, 2011
At our recent Rock and Roll Camp performance, two bands performed three songs each, including Eye of the Tiger, Hey There Delilah and Holiday, and then they performed two songs together as a group. (Check out pictures on our Facebook page!)
“Hunter said it was one of the best camps he’s ever been to,” said Smith. “For a kid interested in music, I don’t think there’s any better place.”
Rock and Roll camp is a great way to test drive our Rock School program. In the Rock School program, similar to the camp, kids are placed in a band according to skill level and meet once a week to learn music and rehearse for a final performance in our Rock School Blowout.
Auditions for our fall Rock School will be Aug. 13, 16 and 23, 2011.
For a full list of summer camps, click here, or call our registrar's office at 813-222-1002.

Theater guest blog: ready for the show!

Guest blog from Patel Conservatory Summer Theater production
by Aliya Burshan, cast member of PCYT's Seussical the Musical, Jr.
Yesterday in Seussical Jr. rehearsals, we ran through the whole entire musical twice. The day started out very hectic with all of the technicians there. We were finally putting all the final pieces together. We do run-throughs for several days so that everyone gets comfortable performing. That way, students aren’t as nervous for the actual performances.
Then came the best time of the day…lunch!! Everybody rushes to the tables to save seats for their friends. My friends and I always sing Broadway songs and talk about what would be our dream part in any show. Mine would be to play Wednesday from the Addams Family!  All my friends have their favorite Broadway show, and it’s fun to talk about them. Many of us have seen live musicals.

After lunch, we did another run-through of the show, and we went back to the dressing rooms to see Mrs. Amy for costumes. She is so AMAZING at what she does. She makes one costume into another with just a stitch of her needle. Tomorrow we’ll be doing full run-throughs with costumes. Now the show is really coming together! I can’t wait for our opening night performance on Thursday!
You will have an awesome time in any of the PCYT Jr. shows. Just to let you know, an opportunity for you to perform in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center is coming up soon. This school year, 5-8th graders are performing Once Upon A Mattress and 2-4th graders are performing The Bear Went Over The Mountain. Sign up now to be a part of our cast!!!

See you soon!

NGB Guest blog: advice from the pros

I really can’t believe that there are only two weeks left in the summer program.  At the beginning, five weeks sounded like a lifetime, but now two weeks sounds like it will go by so fast. So for this week’s blog, instead of writing about my life, I’ve asked advice from Next Generation Ballet’s artistic director, Peter Stark and Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet’s principal Melissa Stafford about how to get the most out of your last two weeks of the summer program.
Q: What advice would you give students for these last few weeks?
PS: Focus more on yourself and don’t compare yourself with other students. This is important because there will always be someone ahead and behind in every profession, not just dance.  It’s important for your own happiness if you learn to compete against yourself and not against your friends or classmates.
Also, write down corrections in a correction journal since you have limited classes with guest teachers and there is a lot of information being thrown at you in a small amount of time.
Make sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of water, be careful to “baby” your body and try to take a hot bath after class to relax.
MS: Keep a correction journal and start focusing on stage presence, musicality and artistry to prepare for the end of the summer performance. Make sure that in order to avoid injuries you get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and eat healthy food. If you are injured, tell your teachers about it so they can take care of it.
Q: What are your pet peeves during class?
MS: When students talk in class. Not only is it not productive for them, it is also very distracting to other students who are trying to learn.
And, when students don't try new corrections or new things that the teachers ask them to do.
Q: What things do you look for in students?
PS: The ability to change based on what teacher is asking you to do. A good student should be able to assess what to prioritize in their technical training based on what the teacher is looking for. Also, when a student’s face shows the effort that they are putting into the class. A teacher likes to see when a student is emotionally engaged in class and actively trying to improve. Just like students feel rewarded when given corrections, teachers feel rewarded when they can see a student listening to them and applying their corrections.
MS: I look for students who are mentally present and willing to adjust their training to match the style of the teacher. I also look for an ability to pick up combinations, because that shows that they have some coordination. Lastly, I look for musicality, self-expression and epaulment.  
Q: What advice would you give a student who would like to be a professional dancer?
PS: Audition for every company that you can, even if you feel like it may not be the right company for you. Remember that the dance world is very competitive, so you should view every company as an option and “cast your net as far as possible.”  Also you should make a short, 10-minute You Tube video of yourself dancing to send to companies. You should include an abbreviated center (if you are a woman it should be en pointe) with a tendu, a pirouette, an adagio, a petite allegro and a grande allegro. You should also include a short classical variation, and don’t wear junk during the video, just a black leotard and pink tights.
MS: Take advantage of all opportunities. The sacrifice pays off even if you do not end up dancing in a professional ballet company. Remember how lucky you are to be exposed to the arts and how the arts can be such an enriching part of your life.
Take as many classes as you can because the best time to build a strong technical foundation is when you are young.
Audition for summer programs in the companies which you feel like you may want to join one day, so that they can see if it is a good fit.
Q: What sets your program apart from other summer programs?
PS: We have more classes, and a wider variety of teachers. We teach a neutral style, and focus more on core technique in order to produce a more versatile dancer. Also, we view ourselves as a stepping-stone and not the final stop like other summer programs that are affiliated with a company.
Q: What things can parents to help their children succeed in the ballet field?
MS: Take your children to see live performances, so they can see the level of technique that they are striving for.
Encourage stretch and complementary physical activity such as swimming and weight training.
Help them take master classes with other teachers that come through the area.
Encourage them to pursue alternate interests and build a transition plan for when their performing career ends.
Q: What are some common mistakes that parents can avoid?
MS: Make sure to always come to watch all of the “milestones” in your child’s training such as performances or in-class demonstrations. Be careful not to put too much pressure on your child and be sure to understand that progress takes time, but it will happen.
Take your child to get professionally fitted for pointe shoes.

Best wishes to all intensive students heading into their final week of rehearsals!

What is your favorite moment of your experience at the Patel Conservatory this summer? Leave us a comment below.

And join us next week for Summer Fantasy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Theater guest blog: rehearsals

Guest blog from Patel Conservatory Summer Theater production
by Aliya Burshan, cast member of PCYT's Seussical the Musical, Jr.

Students work on choreography.
Last week in Seussical, Jr. rehearsals, we began putting together the second act. It took a very long time connecting the pieces, because there were a lot of things to remember.
Every day we did a full run-through to a certain stopping point. All cast members had to be “off  book” (all lines memorized) by Thursday. Ms. Susan, our choreographer, had a challenging week teaching us our dance moves. She discovered not all cast members knew their right from their left. Every time someone used a wrong hand or foot, we’d have to start all over again. It was very aggravating! But in the end, we managed to put on a dazzling performance.  
During the busy week I still managed to find the time to sit down with some of the other cast members. Here’s an interview with Malaya Morris: 
Q: How is the experience so far?
A: FUN, but hard.
Q: How do you think you got the part?
A: By trying my hardest and rehearsing.
Q: What is some advice you would give to a person auditioning?
A: To definitely use your diaphragm to help you breath when you’re singing.
Q: How long have you been performing?
A: 2 years.
Q: What is your part in Seussical?
A: Sour Kangaroo.
Q: What is your favorite part in Seussical so far, and why?
A: The songs because they are fun to learn and they tell stories.
This week is our last week of rehearsals. Check back again to see how things are coming along for our big performances this Thursday and Friday evening!

Friday, July 15, 2011

NGB guest blog: week three

by Amber Shriver, Patel Conservatory ballet intensive student and intern

It’s been really busy the past few days. 
On Sunday, we took the NGB intensive residents to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando. It was exciting to see all of the Disney first-timers’ faces as we entered the Magic Kingdom and saw Cinderella’s castle for the first time. We got to see the parade, one of the princess shows in front of the castle, and, of course, go on all the rides. My favorite ride at the park is Space Mountain, which we went on first. After that, I got to see the renovated Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the new Monsters, Inc. laugh floor.  I had a great time in the park, hanging out with my friends and my residents and although I didn’t get to meet my favorite princess, Belle, I did get to see the Fairy Godmother.
Since then, I have been very busy with work and dancing. My classes have gotten more challenging as we entered the third week, and it’s getting harder to wake up early for them. It’s going to be nice when I go back to college in the fall and get to “sleep in” until 8 a.m. :-p  I really like all the new teachers this week, especially Mr. Blanton and Ms. Brown.
I feel like my petit allegro is improving, and for the first time it is not the scariest part of class. It’s nice to see improvement after working so hard for two weeks. My choreography partner and I are also choreographing a piece that I’m excited about. It’s a piece of music by Beethoven, and we’re playing two sisters who fight a lot but love each other anyway. Whenever we work on it, I’m reminded of my little sister, which makes me a little homesick. I can’t wait to see her when I get back to Maryland.

Choreography is one of my strongest points, and I love the feeling of creating something out of nothing and then getting the chance to dance in the piece. So I’m excited to for this opportunity to perform our piece for the other students at the
choreography showcase at the end of the program.
I’ve also been really busy at work. I’ve started two new projects, both of which I really enjoy. I’m currently editing old news footage of classes and performances at the Patel Conservatory, and making videos to post on the Conservatory’s You Tube site.  They will be up tomorrow, so you should check them out. I’m very proud of them, but I still have almost 20 more DVDs to go through, so I hope I’ll be finished before I have to leave to go back home.
Another new project I’ve started is creating a college database for Patel Conservatory students to use. This is exciting not only because I get to actually use the Excel skills that I learned in Intro to Technology class at Butler, but also because I feel like I’m creating something that will benefit all the students at the Patel Conservatory for years to come. I know from experience how hard it is to research performing arts colleges, and I hope I’ll be able to give someone a starting point for one of the most important decisions they will make in their lifetime. However, the project has snowballed and I hope I have time to finish it before I leave.
Stayed tuned because later this week, I will be writing about the advice of the artistic director and the ballet principal of Next Generation Ballet for how to make the most of the last two weeks of your summer intensive. I’ll also be writing advice for parents from the ballet principal of Next Generation Ballet on how to help your child succeed in the performing arts field.
Check out my pictures of the NGB summer intensive in my Summer Intensive Album on Facebook. Feel free to post your own pictures there as well, and don’t forget to “like” Next Generation Ballet and the Patel Conservatory!

Learn audition skills in upcoming workshops

Gain an advantage at your next audition!

The Patel Conservatory in Tampa is offering audition workshops for grades three through 12.
Auditions can be intimidating. Whether you're thinking about participating in our youth theater program this fall, or just want to brush up on audition skills for school or community theater productions, learn how to make the most of your audition and snag the part you want with our audition workshops.
These workshops are geared toward auditioning for the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater productions to be mounted in the 2011/2012 season, but techniques acquired can be used to audition for a school play, commercials or film.
Grades 3-8
Sat., July 30 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Grades 9-12
Sat., July 23 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

You can also build confidence and learn valuable on-camera techniques through our on-camera acting workshop series. Click here for our current workshop schedule.