Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Nutcracker on Good Day Tampa Bay

Patel Conservatory and Next Generation Ballet dancers in this weekend's The Nutcracker, the Great Imperial Ballet appeared on Good Day Tampa Bay this morning.
Charley Belcher, left, with Johnny Maio

It was a full morning with host Charley Belcher, who interviewed some of the dancers between performances from our Irish step dancer, the Butterflies and Caterpillars, the Chinese dancers and the Nutcracker prince.

If you missed the show, click here for this morning's segments.

Good Day Tampa Bay will feature one of the performances from this morning on their show on Christmas morning.

Here's a few pictures from this morning's preview...

The Nutcracker featured in the news

The Spanish dancers from The Nutcracker will appear on
Daytime TV on Thursday morning.

Patel Conservatory students have been making the rounds this week.

In anticipation of this weekend’s performance of The Nutcracker, the Great Imperial Ballet, students from Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet and Next Generation Ballet have been seen on TV and in the news all week.

Thanks to our performers for their appearances on Studio 10, Daytime TV, Good Day Tampa Bay, Infomas TV and many more!

Tickets are going fast! Don’t miss this incredible show that features more than 180 performers, from the adorable caterpillars to the talented Next Generation Ballet dancers and the breathtaking guest artists from Boston Ballet and the New York City Ballet.

You can catch some of our students on Daytime TV on Thursday morning, and Good Day Tampa Bay on Christmas morning.

Students enjoy a sneak peak of The Nutcracker

Students from the Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School enjoyed a sneak peak of Next Generation Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, the Great Imperial Ballet, playing at the Straz Center this weekend.

As part of our outreach program, the Patel Conservatory has a partnership with the school, which is a Hillsborough County school for homeless and at risk students.

Thanks to the generosity of an individual sponsor, the students were brought to the Patel Conservatory and treated to performances from Teacups, Butterflies, Chinese dancers and more.

Following the performance, the students went to Rehearsal Hall for lunch and gifts from Santa.

Thank you to our wonderful sponsor for helping create wonderful memories for these students.

Theater instructor helps students find their 'inner actor'

Actor, writer and director Kerry Glamsch returns to the Patel Conservatory this spring to teach the Adult Acting 1 class, which starts in January.

Currently a theater teacher at the University of Tampa, Glamsch recently directed UT's fall production of Picnic. He also directed Radiant Child at FreeFall Theatre earlier this month.

When Glamsch isn’t teaching, acting or directing, he’s writing.

“I don’t see writing much different than theater: it’s all story telling,” Glamsch said. “There are stories that percolate inside that I feel like I need to get out.”

His play The Fur Bearer had a staged reading at American Stage last month.

“The play is about a teenage boy who blames his mother for his brother’s death,” said Glamsch.

Through the character’s journey, Glamsch says the play is about learning “to focus on the present, and let go of anger and resentment.”

The reading of The Fur Bearer was part of American Stage’s “Hot Off the Press” play reading series.

In addition, Glamsch’s horror screenplay, The Judas Goat, was recently optioned by Cherub Films, in Denver, which gives the company the rights to produce it for one year.

Glamsch has an admirable commitment to the craft of writing.

“When I’m in full writer mode, I try to carve out three or four hours every morning to write,” he said.

Some days the words flow easily, while other times he has to push past that dreaded writers’ block.

“It does take that discipline to actually see it through. You really have to force yourself."

While it takes discipline to finish a story, Glamsch believes we all have the necessary creativity for storytelling.

“We all have a vehicle inside of us to tell stories, an inner actor. Teaching an acting class is waking up that inner actor,” he said.

Congratulations to Glamsch for his writing successes! We’re glad to have him back at the Conservatory, sharing his passions with our adult acting students.

“I am excited to be back. I love the diversity of the classes and the commitment from the students,” said Glamsch.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Students appear at Anniversary Gala

Patel Conservatory dancers help greet guests at the Straz Center's
25th Anniversary Gala. From left: Kiyo Miyazato, Catherine Johnson,
Addison Aloian and Madeline Brooker
Thank you to all of our Patel Conservatory students who helped make the Straz Center’s 25th Anniversary Gala last weekend even more magical.

Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet students greeted guests as they arrived, including special guests, our generous benefactors, the Straz family and the Patel family.

PCYB students representing the Conservatory were Kennedy Falyn Cassada, Kiyo Miyazato, Catherine Johnson, Emily Schultz, Addison Aloian, Abbey Ramos, Hanna Bhattachariee, Ella Alvarez, Madeline Brooker.

Prior to the dinner, our talented Patel Conservatory Jazz Quartet entertained guests in the Morsani lobby.

During dinner, Ethan Fuller spoke about how his training at the Conservatory has helped him on his artistic journey. Fuller trains with us as a Next Generation Ballet Apprentice. He recently performed in the touring production of Billy Elliot and will perform in our upcoming production of The Nutcracker, the Great Imperial Ballet at the Straz Center Dec. 22 and 23.

The gala event also included a live auction during which NGB dancer Molly Hellier modeled a stunning diamond necklace that was auctioned.

Thank you to all of our generous supporters for making arts education possible through the Patel Conservatory!

For more information on how you can support our arts education programs, please click here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spring youth orchestra auditions

The Patel Conservatory in downtown Tampa will host placement auditions for our spring youth orchestra program.

Auditions for
Intermezzo Orchestra
Patel Conservatory Composers' Orchestra

Wed., Jan. 9, 2013, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 10, 2013, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Supplement your private music lessons, and learn to work with professional conductors and play as part of an ensemble.

All auditions will be heard by Stephen P. Brown, Principal Conductor, and Catherine Michelsen, Associate Conductor.

String, wind and percussion students will receive feedback on their performance, and students are placed in the ensemble that best suits their skill level.

Requires a $15 audition fee. For more details about PCYO auditions, please click here.

To schedule your audition appointment, please call 813-222-1002, or email

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sister Act cast visits Conservatory students

Broadway actor Karen Elliott will visit our Patel Conservatory musical theater students tomorrow.

Elliott plays Mary Theresa in the Broadway tour of Sister Act, now playing here at the Straz Center through Dec. 16. Our musical theater class will enjoy a field trip to see the show tonight as part of their musical theater training.

On Friday, Elliott will visit the class as well as our audition workshop, How to Survive a Dance and Music Audition. She’ll share audition tips and offer feedback for the vocal part of the audition workshop. Co-star E. Clayton Cornelious will join her at the audition workshop and offer feedback on handling choreography.

Meet and greet opportunities such as these with visiting artists are just one more Patel perk for our students!

Elliott’s credits include Les Miserables, Kiss Me, Kate, 42nd Street and Phantom.
She has a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Juilliard School and a bachelor’s in music from The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. 

She is also a Certified Consulting Hypnotist with a practice specializing in issues for performing artists and athletes who must perform "at the top of their game" on a regular basis.

If you'd like to attend Friday's workshop with Elliott and Cornelious, please call 813-222-1002.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

St. Petersburg native returns to Tampa Bay for two special performances

St. Petersburg native Daniel Ulbricht returns to the Tampa area for two special performances this season.

Ulbricht, now a principal with the New York City Ballet, will appear in The Nutcracker, the Great Imperial Ballet on Dec. 22, and in Ballet’s Greatest Hits on Jan 5, 2013, both at the Straz Center.

Daniel Ulbricht, of the New York City Ballet, is coming
to Tampa for two shows.
“It’s always nice to come back home to see my family who were my support, my safety net, my coach,” said Ulbricht. “They watch you from a much deeper level. They know how hard you worked, the injuries, blood, sweat and tears.”

Ulbricht grew up in Pinellas Park in St. Petersburg and didn’t start dancing until he was eleven years old.

“I was always an active kid. I did karate and gymnastics,” said Ulbricht. But his sister danced. Waiting around for his sister at the Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance, the seed was planted.

He took his first ballet class in socks, sweats and a t-shirt.

“That was effective in terms of making me feel like (ballet) was for everyone,” he said.

His early mentors were Lenny Holmes, of the Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance and Javier Dubrocq, who danced with the Bay Ballet Theatre at the time.

Between the two of them, they “taught me how to love dance, and how to love dancing.”

At the age of 15, Ulbricht was accepted to the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of the New York City Ballet, and he moved to New York to train full-time. At first, his goal was to eventually dance with American Ballet Theatre.

But after spending some time at SAB, “I started to fall in love with the company. I started seeing the connection between SAB and the New York City Ballet.”

Just a year later, as a student, he got his first opportunity to perform with the NYC Ballet  as a Jester in Peter Martins' The Sleeping Beauty.

He’d danced at Ruth Eckerd Hall and Mahaffey Theater here in the area, but nothing could prepare him for that first real performance in front of a New York City audience.

“I got that high of being on stage and working with the company,” said Ulbrict.

In December, 2000, he became an apprentice with the company, and in November, 2001, he joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet. In January, 2005, Ulbricht was promoted to the rank of soloist, and promoted to principal dancer in May, 2007.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have followed my dreams, I can’t even begin to count the opportunities I’ve had,” said Ulbricht. 

In addition to performing with the NYC Ballet and as a sought-after guest artist, Ulbricht is also a teacher and the founder and director of Daniel Ulbricht and Friends, a touring group focusing on high art, education and outreach.

“My personal goal is to be an ambassador of the arts, I want people to be excited about dance and learn about dance,” he said.

The upcoming production of Ballet’s Greatest Hits is a wonderful opportunity for both Tampa Bay audiences to appreciate dance culture, and for dancers to see some of the most prominent dancers in the world.

“When I come home, I hope the impact goes much further than the performance,” said Ulbricht. Perhaps some dancer watching might think, “This guy started in Florida and he made it. I can make it, too.”

Hannah Beach shares her Royal experience

Congratulations to Hannah Beach, who recently performed as part of the Swan Corp in the Royal Ballet Company’s production of Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in London.

Hannah, backstage in
Swan Lake in London
Hannah trained at Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory before moving on to the Royal Ballet School (RBS) in London in 2011. She was one of only six students from RBS cast in the professional company performance of Swan Lake.

Hannah’s sister, Gabrielle Beach, now an NGB Apprentice, will perform in The Nutcracker at the Straz Center on Dec. 22 and 23, 2012.

The following is from a letter from Hannah to NGB artistic director Peter Stark about her recent experiences...
“I have been extremely busy over here in London. Swan Lake has finally finished after performing in 21 shows, but it’s not over because I am now doing Snowflakes, Flowers and a cover for Angels (understudy) in The Nutcracker. I just did Flowers Corps in the opening dance and the Finale during the Act II run through yesterday :) I am so happy to be doing so much with the company!!!! [...]
On Monday the school and some company members performed for an arts gala at Buckingham Palace!! It was absolutely amazing! They set up a stage in the throne room and we danced and met Prince Charles :D Darcey Bussell and Natalie Portman were also there! 
Photo by Johan Persson
After the show, the Prince came to talk to us and ask us about how we got to the school and were we are from. I got to talk to him directly and say that I am from the States and I came to the school through a competition. He asked why I chose Royal over other schools in America. I said that everyone in America want to come to London because the school is of better and different quality. He was happy to hear that. lol

Today the graduating class is all taking a bus to Birmingham to visit the Royal Birmingham Ballet! I also have an audition in Hamburg for the Hamburg Ballet on December 9th. :) I am so excited to travel there and see what Germany is like. I am preparing Lilac Fairy as a solid and strong variation to do if they ask for one [...].
I hope everything is going well back at NGB. I hope I can see a dress rehearsal or something of The Nutcracker while I'm home in December, I miss everyone, and please tell Ms. Ivonne about my adventures. :)”

Congratulations to Hannah on her success!

Broadway veteran leads audition workshop on Friday

Broadway veteran E. Clayton Cornelious will lead an audition workshop this Friday, Dec. 14, 2013 at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa.

Photo from
The workshop, How to Survive a Dance and Music Audition, is part of our audition workshop series.

Cornelious is best known by Tampa audiences as the Caterpillar in the Straz Center’s production of Wonderland in 2011. He is currently on tour with Sister Act, now playing at the Straz Center through Dec. 16.

This is your chance to work with a seasoned professional whose Broadway credits include: The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line (Revival), The Music Man (Revival), Kat & the Kings and The Lion King. His national tours include Dirty Dancing, Hairspray, The Lion King, A Chorus Line, The Goodbye Girl and The Wiz. He also portrayed the role of Sammy Davis Jr. in the London’s West End production of The Rat Pack.

E. Clayton Cornelious is a native of Pittsburgh. He attended Point Park University of Pittsburgh and received a BA in Theatre Arts.

At the upcoming workshop, you’ll learn how to pick an audition song that suits your voice, how to handle choreography for a dance audition and how to assemble an audition book. Students will then be led through a mock audition and receive feedback on their performance.

The workshop will be from 5 to 8 p.m. The cost is $50. To register online, click here, or for more information or to register by phone, call 813-222-1002.

The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center offers classes in dance, music and theater. We are located in downtown Tampa, so please allow plenty of time to park and sign-in.

The audition workshop series will be offered again in February, 2013.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Spotlight on Donna Young

When Donna Young signed up for an acting class at the Patel Conservatory, she had no idea the impact it would have on her life.

At 54, Young is a medical saleswoman who had no prior acting experience. She signed up on a whim.

“It came to me out of the blue...I thought this would be a great way to meet a whole new culture of people,” said Young, of Largo.

Life had thrown Young a lot of curve balls. Her parents died when she was 18, her mother of liver cancer and her father from a disease called neurofibromatosis. Their deaths left  Young as the legal guardian of four younger siblings. Her sister died just a few years later from the same disease as her father, and another sister now struggles with the disease.

Young also went through a divorce and struggled for many years as a single mother. Having had her share of heartaches, she yearned for something that would bring her joy.

“I was looking to meet positive people, to make a positive impact on my life,” said Young.

And she found just that, and so much more in Kerry Glamsch’s acting class.

“I never felt like I was a creative type person until I got there and found out that I was,” she said. “It was journey for me of self-discovery throughout the class.”

Learning techniques of acting allowed Young to let go of her inhibitions, meet new friends and build confidence.

“We did an improv exercise where me and my partner got up in front of the class...We came up with a story, and I really enjoyed that, throwing caution to the wind and letting the story develop. And we were very funny, so I really enjoyed the reaction of the class.

That opened a door for me. I thought, Yes, I can put myself out there. I don’t have to be afraid. It taught me how to get out of my comfort zone and to let loose, to let go.”

Another surprise came for Young when she performed in the end of the session's Evening of Shorts. She discovered a love for performing.

“I got out there on that stage, and I found a home. There was nothing else going on in the world. There was just me and the person I was acting with. I gave it my all and I was very proud of it,” she said.

In performing, she could forget about the world and her everyday life, and be totally engrossed in a story and its characters. She has since gone on auditions for community theaters and even performed in an open mic night, something she never would have imagined doing before taking Glamsch’s class.

“I have never been as happy as when I was in those classes and with those people (her classmates). It was challenging, too, you have to work at it, and I like that,” she said.

“I could not have done it, been able to start to grow and come out of my shell, without Kerry. He was encouraging and inspiring. He instilled in me a love for acting and a drive to keep on pushing forward.”

For more information about the adult acting classes or other classes in dance, music and theater at the Patel Conservatory, please call 813-222-1002, or click here for our online brochure.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So You Think You Can Dance visits the Conservatory

Cast members of So You Think You Can Dance pose for a picture
with Patel Conservatory students

So You Think You Can Dance’s ninth-season Top 10 Finalists performed in Tampa last night at the Straz Center. The performance was part of the 2012 live tour that spawned from the popular television show.

But before the show, eight of the 10 performers carved out the time to come next door and visit our dance students at the Patel Conservatory.

Cast members posed for pictures with the students, observed classes and watched an incredible contemporary piece from our NGB boys. We were even treated to a performance from Cyrus Spencer.

Being part of the Straz Center often opens up amazing opportunities like this with touring companies. The students had a wonderful time!

If you think you can dance, why not join us for our Dance Workshops on Dec. 15 and 16, 2012. If you saw last night’s show, mention So You Think You Can Dance? and get 50% off!

For more information about dance classes or the upcoming dance workshops, please call 813-222-1002 or visit

Theater students land roles in holiday productions

Congratulations to theater students who've recently been cast in stage productions around town.

Some of our musical theater students recently got a taste of Broadway with a walk-on role in Elf, the Musical here at the Straz Center.

Congratulations to the following students who played the children in line for Santa in Elf, which played in Morsani Hall:
Torrie Bradley, Emma Kerrick, Ashlyn Lopez, Lindsey Davis, Sarah Watson, Ben Watson, Caleb Quezon, Katie Troke, Alexa Lowrey, Analisa Benitez, Brianna Serafin, Bianca Rivera-Irions, Catherine Touchton and Mark Bensonoff.

Congratulations to musical theater student Paige Crockett who was cast in two upcoming productions.

Paige was cast as Young Helen in Hollywood Arms, playing in January at the Francis Wilson Playhouse in Clearwater, and she was cast as Bob Cratchit's daughter, Martha, in the musical version of A Christmas Carol at FreeFall Theater in St. Petersburg.

“I auditioned for (A Christmas Carol) last year, and it was really fun,” said Paige, 13, who played three different children’s roles in the production last year.

Paige started taking theater classes at 11. An avid tap dancer, she enjoyed music as well and decided to combine her interests with musical theater. She’s taken classes and performed with St. Petersburg City Theater, FreeFall Theater and Ruth Eckerd Hall.

She started at the Patel Conservatory this fall, and enjoys the atmosphere and instructors. “It’s always helpful to learn from different places,” she said.

“I’m really excited for the upcoming show, and I’m excited for upcoming things at Patel,” she said.

She’s looking forward to Music Man, Jr. at the Patel Conservatory in the spring. Auditions for Music Man, Jr. will be Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

“I haven’t done a play at Patel yet, and I think it’s going to be really fun,” she said.

A Christmas Carol will be at FreeFall Theater in St. Petersburg Dec. 13 through Dec. 30, 2012.

Want to learn how to stand out at auditions? Check out our audition workshops! Join us Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, 2012 for audition techniques that could help you snag that next role! The audition workshop series will be offered again in Feburary.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Free Movie Night

Join us for a free Movie Night at the Patel Conservatory in downtown Tampa.

The Patel Conservatory will host a screening of the 1962 film adaptation of the Broadway musical The Music Man on Wed., Dec. 5.

In anticipation of Patel Conservatory Youth Theater’s (PCYT) production of The Music Man, Jr., all students, friends and family are invited for popcorn and the movie.

PCYT will present The Music Man, Jr in April. Get a sneak peak of the show before auditions, which will be this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

Film synopsis: Robert Preston repeats his legendary stage performance as fast-talking con man Harold Hill, who goes from town to town selling citizens on starting a "boy’s band." He takes their money, promising to teach the kids how to be musicians, and he skips town. Looking for new suckers in Iowa, Hill arrives in River City and soon sets his sights on winning over local music teacher Marian Paroo (Shirley Jones). Find out what happens as Hill tries to keep his scam a secret!

The free movie screening will be Dec. 5, 2012 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the TECO Theater.

R.S.V.P. on Facebook, and invite your friends!

For more information, call 813.222.1002.

The healing power of the arts

The theater is a place that inspires creativity and imagination. It’s also a place that can comfort and heal.

For Patel Conservatory theater student Joanna Crosswait, the theater has given her new life.

The 25-year-old actor from Tarpon Springs was diagnosed with cancer last year. Her passion for theater was one thing that kept her going through some dark days, and it’s the one thing that’s helped her regain her strength.

“I’ve been acting my whole life, since I was three years old,” said Joanna, who grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and moved with her family to Tarpon Springs in 2009.

In high school, she focused on Shakespeare and set her sights on Julliard, but persistent stomach problems kept her ill much of the time.

“Since I was 14, my stomach was messed up, I felt run down and tired all the time,” she said.

She couldn’t eat, and she began losing weight. Consistently nauseous and having pain that radiated to her rib cage, she went to several doctors, who thought she had some type of gastric disorder.

After high school, her health forced her to put off college. At age 20, she built up enough strength and courage to audition for Julliard.

Auditions were in Atlanta, and she had set up the appointment, prepared her monologues and planned the trip. 

But when the day came, she got sick again and ended up in the hospital for endoscopic surgery in search of an answer to her stomach problems, but to no avail.

At 24, she found lumps in her neck that seemed to appear overnight.

“I was finally diagnosed at 24 with Hodgkins lymphoma,” said Joanna. “It turns out that I had cancer since I was 14.”

The stress of the cancer had triggered her stomach disorder. By the time she was diagnosed, cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

She underwent four months of chemotherapy, which left her even weaker and caused other health complications.

“The night I lost my hair, I slipped into a coma. I almost died,” she said. “I had all kinds of crazy dreams. At one point, my uncle who passed away came to me in my dream. He said, ‘You have to get back on that stage. That’s where you belong.’”

That was a turning point for Joanna. When she regained consciousness, she thought, I’m probably going to die, but I’m going to go down fighting.

She says that without her family and the desire to act again, she couldn’t have made it. “Those are the two things that made me fight, otherwise, I would have given up.”

Joanna finished chemotherapy a year ago in December, and finished radiation treatments in March. She is now in remission.

This past summer, she was looking at the Straz Center website to see what Broadway shows were coming to Tampa, and she discovered the theater classes at the Patel Conservatory.

When she joined the musical theater class, it was like coming home.

“The teachers are all so fantastic. They make you feel like you’re supposed to be there. In class, it’s a real warm, inviting atmosphere,” she said.

“It feels like I’m alive again. I haven’t been alive for the past five years. I’m finally able to do what I’ve always done, act and sing and perform.”