The Wild Style of Japanese Hip-Hop

About ten years after the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx, the art form found its way to Japan when young Japanese artists encountered the music and saw breakdancing in New York, taking what they saw back to Japan. In 1983, the film Wild Style, a seminal hip-hop documentary capturing the four pillars of the... Continue Reading →

… Five, Six, Seven, Eight …

Understanding the summer dance intensive Dance training often begins as early as three years old with a training year of classes mimicking the school schedule. In June, recitals signal the culmination of study and show off the hard-won skills in a public dance performance. But then what? Cue the summer dance intensive, an integral part... Continue Reading →

A Million Little Peaces

The performing arts and conflict resolution If the folks at (TITLE) for Dummies® or the Idiot’s Guide™ to (THIS THING) ever wrote a how-to guide on building a better world, certainly there’d be a chapter or two on the performing arts. Much has been said on the value of elevating culture and artistic achievement as... Continue Reading →

Manual Transmission

Dance lineage is a big deal. A very big deal. So, when Next Generation Ballet got a descendant of Jerome Robbins, who was guided by George Balanchine, who was instructed by Marius Petipa, the Straz Center leapt for joy. Philip Neal, the artistic director for Next Generation Ballet, came to us from New York City... Continue Reading →

Practice Makes Perfect

Inside Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker rehearsal Dance rehearsal smells like feet and moist leotards. There’s nothing elegant about it. When the dancers work hard, improvising corrections on-the-fly from choreographers and ballet mistresses, there is a locker-room funk suspended in the air from sweat-dampened dance clothes, breath and many bodies moving in one studio classroom. So... Continue Reading →

Leotard, Check. Make-Up Kit, Check. Valve Oil? Check.

The Patel Conservatory Gears Up for Another School Year There’s no such thing as summer break for the faculty and staff of the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. We spend the summer months steeped in a camps, classes, workshops, performances and pre-professional productions like this year’s impressive mounting of an almost full-scale Les Miserables. So, we... Continue Reading →

Okay, Ladies, Now Let’s Get in Formation

Ballet conjures images of tutus, tights, impossible-looking turns on tips of toes and gravity-defying mid-air leaps. If you’ve never taken a ballet class or had a little ballet beginner, then you may not realize those tricky combinations of flicks, kicks, twists, tippy-toe steps, glides, bends and hops emerge from a seriously old set of schematics... Continue Reading →

Somos Todos Tampeños

The Tampa-Cuba cultural connection There was a time not so long ago when Tampa belonged, in heart and mind, to Cuba. In late 19th century Ybor City and West Tampa, Cuban immigrants recreated  their homeland, to the best of their ability, while they powered the burgeoning cigar-making industry. Cuban-flavored Spanish rippled through the factories as... Continue Reading →

Paper + Glue + Satin = Athletic Equipment

You Can Tell A Lot About A Woman By Her Shoes Ballet, with its emphasis on gracefulness, classical music and tutus, is subject to a bevy of cultural misunderstandings, one of the most glaring is the conception that ballerinas are fragile dancing fairies, or Queen Faeries, depending upon the role. Not so. Just take a... Continue Reading →

Drawing on Theater Magic

The tricky business of adapting an animated movie into a stage musical  “The book was better.” So goes the typical critique of movies based on novels, but one rarely hears “I liked the cartoon better” as audiences stream from theater venues where their favorite Disney film characters sang-and-danced through a musical version of the animated... Continue Reading →

Finding the Art in Nature

Art and the performing arts are, at their basic level, a means of creating community and expressing our understanding of the world and ourselves. They have been interwoven with our natural world since human beings evolved to make art – our unique language of creativity that has incredible power. Perhaps not unexpectedly, evidence for both... Continue Reading →

Barefoot Dancers, Reaching, Emoting

The Relevé of Contemporary Dance … but what is it? The meteoric rise of the hit television show So You Think You Can Dance created a new generation of dance fans, young and old alike, bringing a surge of attention to the many genres of the art form. Ballet, recognizable. Hip-hop, easy to spot. Ballroom... Continue Reading →

Art as a Survival Tool Series: III

Good Vibrations Polyrhythms, sound healing and the significance of vibration This blog is the third in a series of five on Art as a Survival Tool, blogs that examine the crucial role art plays in the fulfillment of the human experience. Famed scientist Nikola Tesla once revealed “if you want to know the secrets of... Continue Reading →

New NGB Artistic Director and Dance Department Chair Philip Neal Brings Legacy of Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine

In June, Philip Neal officially joined the Patel Conservatory as the artistic director for Next Generation Ballet and chair of the dance department, the position formerly held by Peter Stark. George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were to American dance what Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio were to baseball. Heavy-hitters, game-changers, larger-than-life personalities, Balanchine and Robbins... Continue Reading →

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood

Several weeks ago, we came across the remarkable 2012 documentary Trash Dance that follows Austin choreographer Allison Orr as she collaborates with the sanitation workers of Austin, TX, whom she has cast as the stars of her latest community dance project. Not all of them are enthusiastic about it. Orr, whose other projects include firefighters,... Continue Reading →

Diversity in Ballet

Many performing arts lovers shouted “Bravo!,” “Finally!” and “What Took So Long?” when American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland broke the oft-unspoken color barrier in the European-standards of ballet to become an international star. Her recent commercial for Under Armor went viral, forcing people to rethink their notions of ballet dancers as athletes and also... Continue Reading →

Lights on Tampa: Nick Cave’s HEARD

This isn’t the “of the Bad Seeds” Nick Cave. This is the performance artist Nick Cave who studied at the Ailey School and later joined the faculty at the Art Institute of Chicago. He now serves that institution as the director of the graduate fashion program. If you haven’t heard of him or had a... Continue Reading →

A View from the Feet

By guest blogger Carol Cohen, Mother Matryoshka performer for 5 years Among the whip-thin ballerinas performing grand jetés and assemblés in the Russian Imperial ballet of the Nutcracker, loom the rotund, bouncing figures of the Mother Matryoshkas—eight Russian nesting dolls, appearing in descending order of height and girth. The Matryoshkas--meaning “little mother” in Russian--appear on... Continue Reading →

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