Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Students visit with Joey the horse

Hillsborough County arts students were treated to a special, up-close look at the amazing life size horse puppet from War Horse today.

The Broadway production of War Horse opens tonight at the Straz Center and runs through this Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Students from the area’s performing arts magnet schools attended the War Horse press event this morning in Patel Conservatory’s TECO Theater as part of their Arts Day experience.

At the press event, the puppeteers demonstrated how they make the enormous horse gallop, breathe, snort and exhibit extraordinarily realistic movements. It takes three puppeteers to operate Joey the horse, the main character of the show. There are 13 puppeteers in the cast who rotate performances.

The actors/puppeteers are essentially playing the character of the horse. They create the horse’s movements, including every tail wag, nod of the head and wiggle of an ear. They also make the horse’s sounds. They breathe, neigh, whinny and grunt.

The actors have to move in sync with one another, much like a dance, said puppeteer Jessica Krueger, whose background is in dance.

Since they each operate a different part of the horse, every person’s movement affects the others, like a ripple effect, she said.

Some of the puppeteers have theater backgrounds, others have dance backgrounds. They utilize physical, vocal and theatrical skills to bring the horses to life.

They use extensive breathing and vocal techniques to create the horse’s sounds, said puppeteer Jon Riddleberger, who studied at NYU Tisch’s Experimental Theatre Wing.

All three make various sounds that together create one expression. They have to almost harmonize to mimic the various tones of a horse.

The students asked many questions, including how much does the horse weigh and what kind of training was involved?

The puppet weighs about 120 pounds. At various points in the play, riders get on top of the horses, adding even more weight for the actors/puppeteers to carry. Imagine having to gallop in perfect sync with two other actors with more than 120 pounds on your back!

For two weeks prior to the start of rehearsals, the actors had to learn how to operate the mechanics of the puppet. They also studied horses extensively and visited stables and spent a lot of time practicing making animal noises.
This morning’s event was intriguing and educational for both the arts students and the reporters and photographers present.

For the students, they got a realistic picture of the physical demands, the theater and vocal skills of the actors and the training required.

They were also able to get a glimpse at the scope of the project and understand the work involved behind the scenes of a Broadway show!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top three things to do to celebrate National Dance Week

Check out Next Generation Ballet dancer Olivia Gusti in On the Edge
and Cinderella

It’s National Dance Week!

It’s a time to celebrate dance and all the wonderful the contributions it brings to our culture, not only as an art form, but as a part of our every day lives.

Even if you don’t think you’re a dancer, you probably dance in your car or your living room to your favorite songs.

Dance is ingrained in all of us, no matter what form it takes, from babies who instinctively move to music to traditional dances at weddings and celebrations to dancing for fun and fitness.

We may not all dance in studios and on stages, but we can all celebrate the joy of movement!

Here’s the top three things you can do to celebrate National Dance Week:
1. Sign up for a dance class.

  • The Patel Conservatory offers an array of dance classes all summer for kids through adults.
  • Kids can enjoy Young Children’s Dance, hip hop, Dance for Musical Theater and more.
  • High schoolers can work with well known choreographer Michelle Elkin in our musical theater production of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Adults can get in shape and have fun in a variety of classes from tap to flamenco.

2. Purchase tickets to an upcoming dance performance at the Patel Conservatory.
  • Cinderella - Don’t miss the talented dancers of Next Generation Ballet in the classic tale that the whole family can enjoy.
  • On the Edge - A showcase of modern dance styles, including contemporary and hip hop ensemble pieces, solos and duets from our Patel Conservatory students.
  • An Evening of Dance - A showcase of a variety of dance styles from students in our community dance classes.

3. Come to the Spotlight Awards.
  • Proceeds from this event go towards our classes and scholarships at the Conservatory, including all of our dance programs.
  • You can support the event with a donation, a dedication ad in the program, or by buying tickets to the event! Supporting this major fundraiser means supporting dance in our community!

For more information about all any of our dance shows, dance classes or events, please call 813-222-1002, or visit patelconservatory.org.

Michelle Elkin to be guest choreographer for Little Shop of Horrors

If you’re a Bunheads fan, and love to sing and dance, then you’ll want to be a part of Patel Conservatory’s Little Shop of Horrors.

Patel Conservatory Theater announces Michelle Elkin as the guest choreographer for our summer production of the popular Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors.

A Los Angeles-based choreographer, Elkin is the assistant choreographer to Marguerite Derricks for the popular television show Bunheads. She also appeared in the show as the dance captain in the recent season finale.

She is the choreographer for Baby Daddy, premiering on ABC Family at the end of May, and has been an associate choreographer for numerous television shows including the 63rd Annual Emmy Awards, Dancing with the Stars and 2 Broke Girls, and an assistant choreographer for such popular films as Charlie’s Angels, Austin Powers and Batman and Robin.

She was the associate choreographer for the Broadway show Wonderland, which was produced at the Straz Center, and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to Tampa for Little Shop of Horrors.

The Patel Conservatory’s Little Shop of Horrors is a theater production class for students in grades nine through college. The class, which runs from July 1 through July 20, includes intensive training in dance, theater and vocals.

Dormitory options are available, and video auditions are accepted. So even students who don’t live in the area can participate! 

The class culminates in public performances of the full-length musical July 18 through July 20, 2013.

The show will be directed by Adam Wagner, who recently directed the Conservatory’s overwhelmingly successful Music Man Jr.

Placement auditions are required for participation. Auditions will be May 18, 2013.  Video submissions should also be submitted by May 18.

To schedule an audition appointment or to send video audition submissions, please email pateltheater@strazcenter.org or call 813.222.6414

For more information, please please call 813-222-1002.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Free classes and a performance from the NGB boys!

The ballet world agrees that our Next Generation Ballet boys are worth watching!

The boys’ ensemble piece recently won second place among the world’s top competitors at the Youth America Grand Prix final competition in New York City.

And you can see them perform it right here at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa.

The NGB boys will perform a reprise of their award-winning ensemble piece Slide to Dance at Saturday’s Camp-A-Palooza!

Camp-A-Palooza is a free open house event this Sat., Apr. 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The morning will include free classes in dance, theater and music.

Free sampler arts classes:

10 - 11 a.m.
11:30 to 12 p.m.
12 to 12:30 p.m.
Instrumental Petting Zoo
12:30 to 1 p.m.

The special performance of Slide to Dance will be in the TECO Theater at 11:15 a.m., followed by a short Q & A. Ask them questions about their experience in New York and the many scholarship offers they’ve had from prestigious schools across the globe!

Don't miss Camp-A-Palooza and the NGB Boys this Saturday!

Slide to Dance places second at YAGP

Next Generation Ballet dancers in Slide to Dance
Congratulations to our Next Generation Ballet boys, whose ensemble piece Slide to Dance took second place at the recent Youth America Grand Prix final competition in New York City.

Eleven of our NGB students competed in the New York finals. They were among 300 students chosen out of approximately 5,000 students who competed internationally in regional competitions.

At the competition, four of our students progressed to the last round, which was more than any other school present. NGB student Gabrielle Beach placed in the Top 12 in the Junior Girls division.
Gabrielle Beach

The following NGB students received scholarship offers at the event:

Gabi Beach – Royal Ballet School
Hannah Stanford – Royal Ballet School
Kemper Cassada – Zurich Ballet School and Royal Ballet School
Landon Harris – Dutch National Ballet School and Washington Ballet School
Olivia Gusti – Dresden Ballet School and Princess Grace of Monaco
Chandler Hammond – National Ballet of Canada School and Australia Ballet School
Ethan Fuller – Australian Ballet School
Tanner Bleck – Zurich Ballet School
Hannah Stanford – American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet School
Colin Fuller – Jacobs Pillow

Gabi Beach and Kemper Cassada will be attending Royal Ballet School in the fall. Olivia Gusti, Chandler Hammond, Tanner Bleck, Hannah Stanford, Ethan Fuller and John Hewitt will stay with NGB at the Patel Conservatory for another year.

In addition, Landon Harris also received scholarship offers from the School of American Ballet and Hamburg Ballet School. He is undecided where he will attend next year.

Sasha Alvarez, who also competed in New York, received a full scholarship to Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Congratulations to all of our competitors for their hard work!

You can see these dancers perform in the upcoming production of Cinderella at the Straz Center on May 19, 2013.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Two more chances to see the Good Doctor!

Patel Conservatory Theater presents The Good Doctor tonight and tomorrow only!

Lucas Coura captures the somewhat scattered personality of a writer as he portrays the Russian writer Anton Chekhov in this light comedy, written by Neil Simon and based on stories by Chekhov.

“I really enjoyed finding the subtle humor of the play,” said Coura.

Any writer can appreciate Chekhov’s narration, which jumps from one idea to the next. Chekhov’s narration is interwoven with the stories he writes.

I love Neil Simon and am super excited to perform one of his plays,” said Spence Gabriel, who plays Cherdyakou.

Gabriel has performed in community theater throughout the Tampa Bay area. This is his first show with the Conservatory.

His former performances include Night at the Wax Museum and Honk. He played Rolf in Sound of Music, and Link Larkin in Hairspray. He was recently chosen to be one of the hosts of the Patel Conservatory’s 2013 Spotlight Awards in May.

“The goal of the Patel Conservatory is amazing. To educate kids, including underprivileged kids, it’s what I want to do with my life,” said Spence. “Theater helped me a lot when I was young, so I want to show others that it can help them as well.”

Spence says he was shy as a kid, and had a hard time dealing with his parents’ divorce. Stepping into someone else’s shoes and becoming different characters became an outlet for him to express himself.

“I could get up on stage and let it all out,” he said.

“It’s an honor to be here at the Conservatory, and an honor to be in the Good Doctor and Spotlight.”

Check out Spence as one of Chekhov’s smartly witty characters in the Good Doctor, this weekend only!

Performances of The Good Doctor will be Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

Bring your gently used instruments to Camp-A-Palooza

Do you have an instrument sitting in a closet? Instruments are meant to be played!

Bring your gently used instrument to the Patel Conservatory and we’ll help find it a good home so it can make music again!

The Patel Conservatory is hosting a musical instrument drive in conjunction with their Camp-A-Palooza event.

Camp-A-Palooza is the Conservatory’s open house event on Sat., Apr. 27, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All are invited to come learn about the Conservatory’s summer camps and classes in the performing arts.

During the event, the public is invited to drop off their unwanted musical instruments.*

In turn, if you’ve been wanting to take music lessons, but don’t have an instrument, you can come see what instruments may be available.

Spend your summer making music in our camps and classes, including Chamber Music Camp, Percussion Camp, Rock Star Retreat, Suzuki violin camp and Instrumental Petting Zoo. We also have music classes that include Rock School, piano class and guitar class, and private lessons.

Our first musical instrument exchange will take place Sat., Apr. 27, 2013. Instruments may be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Help someone make music this summer!

All donated instruments should be in good, working condition, and of reasonable scale.

*The Patel Conservatory reserves the right to refuse donations based on size or condition. For extra large instruments, please call our office first at 813-222-1002.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Announcing the hosts for 2013 Spotlight Awards!

The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center announces the hosts for the 2013 Spotlight Awards!

Congratulations to Tristan Braboy, Helen Foe and Spence Gabriel who will share the stage as emcees for the evening.

Heartfelt thanks to all the students who came out to the auditions. They all did a fantastic job!

For the audition, students were asked to share a story about their experience in the performing arts. From funny and light-hearted to heart-warming, each story was moving and significant.

Their similar stories of how studying the performing arts has helped them truly gives meaning and purpose to every single class offered at the Conservatory.

“It was a fun audition that reminded us of why we love working here,” said Claire Olson, dance department manager.

Whether studying a script, learning songs in a musical theater class, or expressing themselves through dance, the students shared how they changed, coped, grew and became more confident through their classes at the Conservatory.

Thanks to our dedicated faculty for sharing their talents and touching the lives of their students every day.

And thanks to all of our students for sharing your time and talent with us!

All students are invited to participate in the Spotlight Awards on Thurs., May 23, 2013. Come celebrate your success!

For more information, call 813-222-1002, or visit patelconservatory.org.

Students to perform with Dance Theatre of Harlem

Next week, Dance Theatre of Harlem comes to the Straz Center, and with it comes more great opportunities for our students.

Free Master Class
On Sat., Apr. 20, the company will host a free master class for students from the Conservatory and our partner schools. They'll get the opportunity to train and learn from visiting guest artists.

PCYB students to perform with Dance Theatre of Harlem
On Sun., Apr. 21, students from our Conservatory ballet program will get the chance to perform in the show with the company.

The following eight students have been chosen to participate in the rehearsals. Seven will be chosen by the company to perform, and the eighth student will be the alternate.

Kennedy Falyn Cassada
Kiyo Miyazato
Courtney Gunsteens
Taylor Barrett
Camila Daniel
Amy Wilson
Catherine Johnson
Tessa Hartmann

From left, Courtney Gunsteens, Taylor Barrett, Amy Wilson,
Camila Daniel, Tessa Hartmann, Catherine Johnson, Kiyo Miyazato.
(Missing from picture: Kennedy Falyn Cassada)
Come check out our students on stage with Dance Theatre of Harlem Sun., Apr. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Straz Center! This is also the field trip show for our PCYB students!

Patel Conservatory students get 50% off the purchase of one ticket. For tickets, visit our box office in person, call 813-229-STAR (7827) or visit strazcenter.org.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Join us for Camp-A-Palooza!

Still not sure what you’re doing this summer? Join us for Camp-A-Palooza at the Straz Center!

Sat., April 27, 2013
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center

Camp-A-Palooza is a FREE family-friendly, riverside event at the Patel Conservatory to learn about our summer camps and classes!

Sample dance, theater and music classes, enter to win free show tickets, take a tour of the Conservatory and ask questions!

Summer programs at the Patel Conservatory include a wide variety of camps and classes for preschoolers to adults. From Intro to Performing Arts camps to pre-professional training, there’s something for everyone!

Bring the kids out to Camp-A-Palooza for free face painting, a free bounce house provided by Hoppers Fun House, and music and prizes from Magic 94.9.

We’ll have treats from Tanya and Matt’s Froyo Fresh and Kona Ice. The first 20 guests will receive free Kona Ice snowballs, and Froyo Fresh samples will be available all day.

There will also be information from our summer camp lunch partner EVOS.

Our Early Bird Discount has been extended...Camp-A-Palooza will be the last day to save 10% on select summer camps and classes.

Free prizes for all kids who register at Camp-A-Palooza!

And, don't forget, you can donate your gently used musical instruments at this event!

For more information, call 813-222-1002 or visit patelconservatory.org.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Look who made it BIG!

Patel Conservatory Suzuki violin student Soraya Keaton-Baldwin recently got to see herself larger than life at OAI Corp.

OAI Corp is the Patel Conservatory and Straz Center’s printing partner who produces our billboards, banners, signs and more.

From on-site signage to billboards around the community, OAI has been a supporter of the Straz Center for more than 20 years.

Michael Garcia founded OAI in 1989 to provide hand-painted signs, billboards and blank banners to companies around Florida. He started with a $5,000 credit card in a 200-sqare-foot room.

Now the company is the largest grand-format printer in the Southeast and known throughout the nation. Its 40,000 square-foot Tampa facility houses a variety of digital and screenprinting machines.

OAI uses one of the world's largest ink-jet printers to create multi-media for its clients.

It’s pretty cool when our students get to see themselves on those giant billboards and enjoy a bit of fame, at least in the Tampa Bay area.

Dylan Riveiro is a longtime theater student at the
Patel Conservatory who enjoyed seeing his own face on
a Conservatory billboard in Brandon.
Baldwin, 6, a student at Cambridge Christian School, has been taking violin lessons at the Patel Conservatory for nearly three years. She also takes dance classes here. She was impressed when she saw herself on the enormous 50-foot billboard before it went up.

Spot our Patel Conservatory billboards around Tampa Bay and tell us if you know someone who’s made it BIG!

And if you're actually on one of our summer camps and classes billboards, take a picture of yourself in front of it and post it to our Facebook page!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Arts Day comes to the Straz and Conservatory

The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center is gearing up for Arts Day!

Vocal arts teachers from area arts magnet schools plan their activities for
the PLC's annual Fine Arts Day.
Hillsborough County’s Fine Arts Magnet Professional Learning Community (PLC) met yesterday to finalize plans for this year’s Arts Day, which will take place here and at other area locations on Tues., Apr. 30, 2013.

Fine Arts Day is an opportunity for students from Hillsborough County arts magnet schools to come together for a collaborative learning experience.

Students from Muller Magnet Elementary, Philip Shore Elementary, Orange Grove Middle Middle School, Progress Village Middle School and Blake High School will attend a day of workshops, performances and educational experiences.

This year’s theme is Art Imitating Life, and will include a special appearance from Joey the horse, from the Broadway tour of War Horse.

Visual arts teachers plan their Arts Day activity.
War Horse is playing at the Straz Center from Apr. 30 through May 5, 2013. The show is a feat of ingenuity that includes life-sized horse puppets that breathe, gallop and charge, and are strong enough for men to ride. The puppets were created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company.

On Arts Day, the participants will be treated to a presentation by the War Horse puppeteers. They’ll learn how the puppets work and have the opportunity to ask questions.

The students will then break into groups to create their own art work or performance piece.

Music students will attend clinics with members of the Florida Orchestra and sit in on a Florida Orchestra rehearsal; visual arts students will visit the Tampa Museum of Art and create their own 3-D models of horses; and dance students will choreograph their own piece based on the theme.

Other workshops include stage design, theater and vocal arts.

The day will culminate in afternoon performances or exhibitions from each group. Participating teachers and students will also have the opportunity to purchase discount tickets to attend the Florida premier of War Horse that evening.

Thank you to the dedicated teachers and administrators of the Professional Learning Community, and we look forward to co-hosting this year’s Arts Day!

Meet the Cast: Music Man Jr.

by Paige Strott, Patel Conservatory Marketing Intern

The Music Man Jr. opens this week, and it's sure to be a stellar performance by Patel Conservatory Theater students.

Natalie Cottrill, 13, plays the lead female role, Marian Pavoo. Natalie takes Musical Theater classes at the Conservatory and she’s a member of the Junior Choir. 

"When I was 9 years old I started acting and it completely brought me out of my shell," said Natalie.

This is her first production at the Conservatory.

"Ever since I started musical theater I have had so many opportunities that I am grateful for," she said.

Preston Barber, from Seminole, plays Mr. Shinn, the mayor of River City, Iowa.

“This is the first time I’ve had to be a mean person, it was a different change of pace. I had to adapt,” said Preston.

A student at Osceola Fundamental High School, Preston, 14, is trying something new both with his role and at the Conservatory. A longtime ballet student who has been in The Nutcracker, this is Preston’s first year in musical theater and junior choir.

"I love it! It's a lot of fun," said Preston.

Hannah Anton, 12, plays Winthrop in The Music Man.

It's not her first time playing a male role.

"I've had to play a boy a lot, I guess because I'm really short, and I have a low voice," said Hannah. 

She is from South Tampa and attends Wilson Middle School. Hannah has been with the Patel Conservatory Theater for three years, and she's also taken dance and violin classes here.

Hannah says that being part of the shows at the Patel Conservatory is like family.

Join these members of The Music Man Jr. cast and many more from Apr. 11 through Apr. 20, 2013 in the TECO Theater!

For tickets, click here.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cinderella tea at the Children's Museum

Cinderella will be at the Glazer Children’s Museum this Sunday for a special royal visit.

In anticipation of Next Generation Ballet’s (NGB) production of Cinderella, the museum will host a Cinderella tea this Sun., Apr. 7, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Cinderella, the Prince, the Fairy Godmother, the Four Fairies and the Jester will be on hand for tea service and finger sandwiches.

NGB dancers will mingle with guests and even teach some ballet movements to the little ones.

Don’t miss this chance for the kids to meet the ballerinas, see the costumes and explore the history of this classic tale.

Tickst are $20 for general admission, and $15 for museum members.