Students may recognize the three-story Patel Conservatory building from downtown excursions, yet the all-ages performance facility is now directly reaching out to college students with two new opportunities.
From Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, students can attend dance classes at the Patel Conservatory at the David A Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts for free – and purchase dance cards for later.
During the free week, students can participate in open enrollment adult courses, which include classes in ballet, jazz, modern, flamenco, tap and hip-hop. Other intermediate classes will be available for observation, giving those interested a chance to become familiar with the instructor, movement and the level of the class.
Most of the courses offered at the Patel Conservatory are taught once a week and offered throughout the day.
For instance, Tap Dance I will have a free session from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1. Contemporary Dance will hold its free session from 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30.
Students can call the Conservatory to pre-register, and its website instructs participants to come to sessions 30 minutes early to fill out paperwork.
After this free week concludes, the Conservatory’s dance card gives college students with a current student ID another discount opportunity.
A dance card is available as an in-person purchase of five sessions for $65 or 10 sessions for $120, and can be used for any dance class at any time throughout the year.
Patel Conservatory public relations director Leslie Farrell said she also has taken advantage of the classes.
“The free week or the dance card we are offering is a great way for the public or students to participate in dance and still follow a budget and schedule,” Farrell said. “Also, it offers people a chance to try out something new – like me and my daughter did with a sample jazz class offered here.”
Those with little or no experience can start from the beginner level, while higher level or intermediate classes are offered in ballet, tap and modern.
Ballet, jazz and modern dance instructor Glynn Owens will teach classes offered during the free week, such as Refine and Refocus’ body stretches on Sept. 27 and Ballet Dance I’s elegant movements on Sept. 28.
“Our beginner classes are like dance lessons, exposing new dance students to technique,” Owens said. “Intermediate classes focus more on choreography and fluidly moving.”
USF alumna Amanda Roa, who majored in dance studies, teaches ballet at the Patel Conservatory and has been involved with community outreach programs that offer dance instruction, including to USF’s Parkinson’s group.
“I remember as a dance major, dance instructors often encouraged students to train outside of their focus in order for students to keep a diverse sense of movement,” Roa said. “Since dance majors are already busy with their academic dance classes, the dance card is a way for students to avoid committing to an additional dance class that might become overwhelming for a college schedule.”
Despite the fee to continue performing beyond the free week-long trial period, Owens said the dance card’s cost might offer stressed students a way to employ their bodies beyond running to classes.
“Dance is an outlet for emotional and physical expression,” Owens said. “Dancing in a professional dance setting allows people time to come back in line with their body by means of vigorous physical movement or stress-relieving stretches.”
Students get to apply their skills at the end of the fall session by performing with their class in a showcase performance.
The Patel Conservatory also offers music and theater classes for students who wish to stand on the stage without dancing. The new Adult Stand-up Comedy course teaches improvisational skills to develop a 10 to 15 minute routine, and is taught Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
For information on class schedules, how to pre-register for free classes or purchase a dance card, call 813-222-1002 or visit patelconservatory.org.