Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spotlight on Taylor Trensch

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory alum Taylor Trensch who recently joined the cast of the Broadway production of Wicked!
“I had never seen the show,” said Taylor’s father Frank Trensch, a physicist from Temple Terrace, who went to New York over the weekend to watch his son in his first Broadway role. “I was overwhelmed by his performance. After seeing him on that stage, I believe that’s where he belongs.”
A graduate of Blake High School, Taylor supplemented his experience at Blake with musical theater classes at the Patel Conservatory.
“He took advantage of every opportunity he could to improve his skill, and Patel was an important part of that, as well as his teachers at Blake,” said Frank.
While in high school, Taylor stayed active in local theater as well, including the Masque of Temple Terrace, the New Tampa Players and the Salerno Theatre Company. In 2007, he received the most outstanding performer award at the Florida State Thespian Conference.
He went on to study theater at Elon University in North Carolina, and at the end of his sophomore year, landed the role of Moritz in the national tour of Spring Awakening, for which he won the 2009 Denver Post Ovation Award for Best Supporting Actor in a National Touring Production.
Most recently, he played Dwayne Hoover in William Finn and James Lapine's new musical comedy Little Miss Sunshine at La Jolla Playhouse Mandell Weiss Theatre in San Diego.
The director of Wicked had seen Taylor in another audition and offered him the role of Boq, said Frank.
You can see Taylor in Wicked on Broadway from now through April!

(And if you can't get to New York, Wicked returns to the Straz Center in January, 2013!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Congratulations to dancers who competed in YAGP regionals!

Photo from wtsp.com, from the YAGP Stars of Today
Meets Stars of Tomorrow performance.

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory dancers who competed in the Tampa regional Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) last weekend! Their stellar performances earned Patel Conservatory the Outstanding School Award, alongside Orlando Ballet School.

We’re proud of the effort and hard work from all the dancers, who gained valuable experience in competition and performance.

Special congratulations to the following students who placed in the top three:

In the Senior Age Division, Hannah Bettes placed 2nd in the Classical Women’s category and 1st in the Contemporary Women’s category. William Dugan placed 3rd in the Classical Men’s category.

In the Junior Age Division, Hannah Stanford placed 2nd in the Classical Women’s category; Gabrielle Beach placed 3rd in the Classical Women’s category; Kemper Cassada placed 1st in the Classical Men’s category and 3rd in the Contemporary Men’s category; and Olivia Gusti placed 1st in the Contemporary Women’s category.

These students will move on to compete in the YAGP final competition in New York City in April, along with Katherine Grones, who recently earned a top three finish in the YAGP regional competition in Chicago.

Congratulations to these students who earned Top 12 awards:
William Dugan
Calvin Farias
Taylor Minich
Sasha Alaverez
Hannah Bettes
Tristan Braboy
Gabrielle Beach
Olivia Gusti
Hannah Stanford
Addison Wright

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Music students invited to participate in free master class

The Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO) will host a master class with violinist Leonid Yanovskiy on March 6, 2012. The class is free and open to the public, and all music students are invited to attend.
Yanovskiy is the Director of Strings at the University of West Florida and conductor of its University Orchestra.
“Any student in an orchestra or music program, including voice students, can learn something from this class,” said Patel Conservatory music chair Gregory Ruffer. “Regardless of the instrument they play, students can gain insight into performance techniques that are universal.”
Originally from Russia, Yanovskiy was violinist with the Moscow Concert Chamber Orchestra and principal violinist/guest soloist with the Chamber Orchestra Northern Crown, with which he toured extensively throughout the former Soviet Union.
He came to the United States in 1990 and received a doctorate from Rutgers University. He is concertmaster with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Opera, and North Florida Symphony Orchestra; as well as violinist with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, NYC.
Prior to the master class, participants are invited to bring instruments and join in PCYO's open rehearsal for the Intermezzo Orchestra from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and the Chamber Orchestra from 7 to 8 p.m.
The free master class begins at 8 p.m.
There are no prerequisites for participating in the master class or open rehearsals. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 813.222.1002 or visit www.patelconservatory.org.

Save the date for Summer Splash

What will your kids be doing this summer?
On Saturday, March 24, make your way over to the 5th annual Summer Splash at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Spend a relaxing day on the Riverwalk, and at the same time, find great places for your children to enjoy summer fun.
Hosted by the Patel Conservatory and Tampa Bay Parenting magazine, Summer Splash will feature free activities for the kids and live entertainment. Parents can get information and register on site for summer camps and classes at places such as Lowry Park, the Glazer Children's Museum, the Florida Aquarium, and of course, the Patel Conservatory!
Set your summer schedule now before the best camps fill up with one easy, fun afternoon!
Summer is the perfect time to try something new. Check out all that we have to offer in dance, music and theater. Our camps range from preschool to high school, from beginning levels to advanced summer intensives.
Summer Splash will be the last day to receive the Patel Conservatory's 10% early registration discount.
Summer Splash takes place March 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside on the Riverwalk at the Straz Center.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Music brings one family together

Photo by Jason Behnken/The Tampa Tribune

Having four brothers in the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO) program is unusual in itself. But the story of how these brothers became a family of musicians is even more striking.
Born in Guatemala, Luis Quixtan, 19 of Brandon, thought early on that he’d become a doctor like his parents.
“We lived in a small village, my parents were both doctors and my house was like a clinic,” said Luis, the oldest of five children in his family.
In a country of political unrest and violence, the Quixtan family became a target. “People thought we had money because they were doctors,” Luis said.

His parents began receiving death threats. They were assaulted and told to pay or their children would be kidnapped or killed.
“They told my dad to pay them $5,000 a month or one of us [kids] would die,” said Luis.
When parents Sandra and Ángel went to police, nothing was done. Quite sure that the police were receiving cuts from blackmail, they had no recourse against their assailants. They didn’t know who was behind the threats and didn’t know where to turn.
In one incident, Luis was walking down the street when a car with armed men began following him. Then only 12 years old, he ran home and reported it to his mother.
His father had been beaten on more than one occasion and the attempts to kidnap the children became more frequent. The situation continued to escalate.
“No one would help them,” said Luis, “They decided it wasn’t safe to stay...it was either live or die.”
Leaving everything behind, they came to Florida in 2004 on tourist visas. Soon after, they came to Brandon, where they were taken in by an elderly man, Ismael Ramos, who became like a grandfather to the children. It was Ramos who bought Luis his first instrument, a clarinet.
At that time, living in Ramos’ home, the family was still fearful to go out or trust anyone. They didn't speak the language and didn't have friends. "It was all overwhelming and strange," said Luis.

Luis taught himself how to play the clarinet, and soon his brother Francisco began to play. They added saxophone and flute. His brothers Christian and Kevin picked up instruments as well. Music became the family’s only outlet.
“We really didn’t have anything else to do,” said Luis, “Music brought us together.”
When they heard about the Patel Conservatory through a friend, it “opened doors for us,” said Luis, “we didn’t imagine we’d be in a place like this.”
For most kids, music lessons are an after-school activity, but for the Quixtan boys, the youth orchestra become a safe and welcoming home.
Today, Luis and his brothers and sister all play more than one instrument. Luis and his brothers, Francisco, 18, Christian, 16, and Kevin, 15, play with PCYO, and Sandra, 13, has taken up drums.
In addition to PCYO, Luis, Francisco and Christian play together every Friday night at Sips Cafe in Brandon.
“Mr. [Stephen] Brown is one of the best conductors we’ve ever had,” said Luis. “I’ve been in other orchestras and it’s usually very serious. But [Brown] says, ‘if you’re going to play music, it should be fun.’ He’s taught us how to express ourselves through music.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NGB student places third at YAGP regional in Chicago

Congratulations to Next Generation Ballet (NGB) trainee Katherine Grones!
Grones recently won third place in the senior age division for the classical and contemporary categories at the Youth America Grand Prix regional competition in Chicago.
Four of our NGB students traveled to Chicago to compete earlier this month. The competition in Chicago is one of many regional events leading up to the final competition in New York City.
Patel Conservatory hosts another YAGP regional this weekend, with several of our students competing. Students competing will also participate in master classes on Sunday. The weekend culminates with YAGP’s production of Stars of Today Meets Stars of Tomorrow.
Best wishes to our students competing this weekend! Way to go, Katherine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spotlight on Grace Feeney

What’s the secret to success in the entertainment industry?
Stay active and stay fresh, says Grace Feeney, actor and producer.
“If I’m not actively in a show, then I take classes so that I’m constantly on my toes and ready for the next thing,” said Feeney.
Feeney, a former on-camera student at the Patel Conservatory, is currently in the Professional Producer’s Program at UCLA.

A perpetual student, Feeney holds a B.A. from the University of Miami. As part of her degree, she studied drama at Flinders University in Australia for a year and a half. She then received a law degree from Stetson University in St. Petersburg.

When opportunities don’t present themselves, she makes her own.
In 2007, she started APASI, a non-profit production company dedicated to promoting Asian American roles in theater and film.

Her idea was that Asians and Asian Americans shouldn’t have to wait for a stereotypical Asian role to appear on a casting breakdown in order to perform.

Though she is part Filipino and part Portuguese, “I’m from New Jersey. I was born and raised in the U.S., so I don’t know why we have these stereotypical roles,” said Feeney. With APASI, she produced stage plays and two short films.

Since she was young, her goal has always been to act and produce. She’s the consummate organizer who’d gather her artist friends to find scripts to perform. She got her law degree specifically to learn about entertainment law.
She paid her dues as a film actor through work as an extra and as an assistant to a casting director. And when she wasn't working on films, she performed in numerous theater productions, including many with Jobsite Theater at the Straz Center. She recently won Creative Loafing's Best Local Actress Award in the 2011 Best of the Bay Awards.

Her current project scheduled to shoot in February is a short film about the effect of technology on relationships, and the importance of family. She also interns for Joel Silver at Warner Bros.

Even with her long list of accomplishments, Feeney admits that trying to make a name for yourself in the film or entertainment business can still be intimidating.

"All of the other interns [at Warner Bros.] are younger and the majority are male, but, I'm still doing it!" said Feeney.

While some of her co-workers may be fresh out of undergraduate school, this young aspiring filmmaker is blazing her own trail. She does that by connecting with her artistic community whenever and wherever she can.
“I never want to be stale,” said Feeney. “Whenever I’m around other artists, its inspires me.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

The difference between acting for the stage and acting for the camera

Although veteran actor Grace Feeney had studied theater extensively, she never took an on-camera acting class before coming to the Patel Conservatory in Tampa.
Grace Feeney in our on-camera acting class.
“It was interesting to learn the technicalities of being in front of the camera,” said Feeney. “I have a lot of little quirks I didn’t know I had.”
The on-camera acting classes at the Patel Conservatory, taught by Eugenie Bondurant, focus on how to be truthful as an actor in front of the camera. Through improvisation techniques and acting exercises, actors learn how to stand out at an audition and how to be sincere and candid, showing off their true selves.
Bondurant is a certified Meisner instructor, and also offers private acting lessons. Students in the on-camera classes learn industry terminology and tips of the trade.
“She helped me get my first agent, which led to some of my first on-camera roles,” said Feeney, who now lives in Los Angeles.
Whether a veteran actor, or someone just learning about the business, the on-camera workshops are a great way to stay active, have fun and network with others. The camaraderie of working together with other actors with similar goals inspires students to be creative and take chances.
“The last time I took her class was in 2006, but we still talk. That’s what’s great about Eugenie,” said Feeney. “And that’s what this industry is all about, building relationships.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brush up on your improv skills!

This weekend, the Patel Conservatory is offering a fantastic opportunity to brush up on your improv skills.
Back by popular demand, the hilarious Improvised Shakespeare Company will conduct a workshop that will be open to the public.

All acting and theater students ages 16 and up are invited to attend! (You don't have to be a student at the Conservatory.)

The Improvised Shakespeare Company, will be perform Feb. 16 - 18 at the Shimberg Theater at the Straz Center in Tampa.

While in town, they'll offer their enjoyable, fast-paced workshop as a way to make Shakespeare more fun and user-friendly for everyone. It's your chance to study with this critically-acclaimed performance group at an affordable price!

The Improvised Shakespeare Company has performed every Friday night in Chicago for over five years, and continues to entertain audiences around the globe with its touring company. Based on audience suggestion, the show is a fully improvised play in Elizabethan style, using the language and themes of William Shakespeare. Nothing is planned-out, rehearsed or written, so each play is entirely new!
In the workshop, company members will teach you some of the basic rules of Elizabethan dialogue and then students work together to create their own Elizabethan prose.
Saturday, Feb. 18
2 to 3:30 p.m.

This workshop is for anyone age 16 and older. The cost is $15 and space is limited. Please pre-register to ensure your spot!

To register, call 813.222.1002 or click here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Try something new in the new year!

We’re well into the new year, and how do your resolutions look?
If you’ve vowed to take some time for yourself this year, now is the time!
Classes start back this week at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center in Tampa.

Students of all ages enjoy community
dance classes.
The performing arts offer an emotional and creative outlet by engaging your mind and body in a way that's fun and educational.

Acting classes, group guitar lessons, dance for adults and kids, voice lessons, piano, violin, and much, much more, are all under one roof.

Whether you’ve always wanted to try a dance class or you’ve been thinking about picking up that instrument you haven’t touched since high school, check out the nurturing environment at the Patel Conservatory.

We have an array of classes for the adult lifelong learner. Musicians, check out our group guitar class, rock school, jazz ensemble or private lessons. Dancers can take an array of dance classes with our dance card option. If you love to sing, join our jazz voice ensemble or vocal arts program. If acting is your thing, we have two levels of acting for adults, as well as three upcoming workshops.

One of our Rock School bands performs at the Rock School
Blowout concert on the Riverwalk.
Being attached to one of the largest performing arts centers in the country, there is always something going on, and an energy in our halls and classrooms.  As part of the Straz Center, our students also receive special privileges such as classes and demonstrations from visiting artists, and tickets to shows.

Everyone is welcome, from the professional who wants to stay current with his skills, to the beginner who wants to learn something new.
With exceptional instructors who are working professionals in their respective industries, our students have gone on to study at prestigious schools such as the Tisch School of the Arts and the Royal Ballet School in London.
With classes in dance, music and theater for all ages and skill levels, pre-school through adults, the Patel Conservatory offers open enrollment.

Classes start this week! Come join us, and bring a friend!

For more information, call 813-222-1002.

Audition tour kicks off for NGB's 2012 Summer Intensive

Auditions are underway for Next Generation Ballet’s 2012 Summer Intensive.
The five-week NGB Summer Intensive program features more than 30 hours of world class instruction per week.
Awarded “Outstanding School” at the 2011 New York finals of Youth America Grand Prix, NGB is a stepping stone for great talent.
The Summer Intensive culminates with a performance at the Straz Center in Tampa, one of America’s largest performing arts centers. Advanced students may also audition for new artist positions with NGB.
Planned recreational activities are offered throughout the weeks, and housing options are available.
Artistic Director Peter Stark will be holding auditions at locations across the country, including New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Denver and Seattle.
Locally, auditions will be:

Patel Conservatory, Tampa
Sat., Feb. 11, 2012

Central Florida Ballet, Orlando
Sun., Feb. 26, 2012.
For additional information and locations, click here, or call 813-222-1263.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Black Violin encourages young musicians to think outside the box

Students from our Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra (PCYO) program will have the opportunity to learn from two innovative violinists.
Kev Marcus and Will B are two classically trained violinists who perform their own style of music, a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, funk, and classical. 
Combining classical training with an urban beat, these two Florida natives and their DJ make up the group Black Violin, performing at the Straz Center Jan. 13, 2012. (Go to the Straz site and click play under the picture to check out a sample of their sound!)
Next week, they’ll share their experiences and offer students tips on musical improv through a demonstration for some of our music students and partners.
Kev and Will met at the Dillard High School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, and formed Black Violin while in college. In 2004, the group performed with Alicia Keys at the Billboard Music awards. In 2008, they released an album, also titled Black Violin. Today, they tour and use their platform to reach out to kids.
Using youth orchestras and music programs, they strive to show children and teens that they are capable of expressing themselves in ways they have never dreamed.
“This is such a great opportunity for our students to be exposed to different styles of music,” said Tina James, Patel Conservatory education programs coordinator.
Black Violin will offer two outreaches for the Patel Conservatory. They'll give a lecture and demonstration to PCYO students, and another for some of our community partners.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

YAGP's Stars of Today comes to Tampa

Tickets are now on sale for the Stars of Today Meet Stars of Tomorrow
The world’s largest student ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix, brings its annual gala to the Straz Center in Tampa. The event has sold out year after year in New York City.
The show features stars from top ballet companies performing alongside award-winning wunderkinds from around the nation, including some of our students from the Patel Conservatory.
This year’s Tampa gala features Jeffrey Cirio, soloist with the Boston Ballet who has been a guest instructor for the Patel Conservaory and recently performed in our production of The Nutcracker at the Straz Center.

Other performers include St. Petersburg native Daniel Ulbrict, principal dancer for New York City Ballet, Lia Cirio of Boston Ballet, Jeanette Delgado of the Miami City Ballet, Logan Learned from the Sarasota Ballet, Logan Phillips of the American Ballet Theatre and Sabi Varga of the Boston Ballet.
As the winner of last year’s YAGP’s Outstanding School Award, the Patel Conservatory’s NGB dancers will present a group piece at both the Tampa and New York City gala. They’ll perform Shotokovich Suite, a work by the late Richard Cook.
Don’t miss this unique chance to see the best young dancers from around the globe and the world’s top professional dance artists in one spectacular Gala evening.
The performance will be hosted by Lissette Campos from WFTS ABC Action news, and takes place on Sun., Jan. 22, 2012. For tickets, click here.