"Inviting, warm, inclusive, exceptional, excellent, professional, outstanding, caring - these are all adjectives that immediately come to mind when I think of The P.A.C.E. Studio, its staff, its instructors, and the students and families there," says Wendy Pesile.
Pesile says her girls have danced at The P.A.C.E. Studio for almost three seasons. "We are a military family and we had just moved into the area when we stumbled into the life of dance and found The P.A.C.E. Studio." She says her daughters were competitive gymnasts but moving required them to find another sport.
"It was heart-wrenching for our girls to leave the sport they had known and loved for six years." She says the transition was made easier by the staff at The P.A.C.E. Studio. "They embraced our girls and helped them develop the same passion for dance that they have for gymnastics. They felt completely comfortable and at home at the studio within a couple weeks, and now they are deeply rooted and feel an integral part of the studio."
Pesile says the instructors at the school can work with new students as well as experienced dancers, making the classes as fun as they are instructional. "The excellent balance of nurture, discipline, sound instruction, and fun, have enabled my girls to quickly grow as dancers and embrace the art and sport of dance," she adds. "They have the expertise and experience to help those students who are highly motivated and exceptionally gifted in the art and sport of dance pursue a professional dance career if desired."
The studio has a diverse staff with impressive backgrounds, including one teacher who has performed with Cirque du Soleil and danced professionally on Princess Cruise Lines, touring all over the world. Another teacher was a graduate of the Maryland Youth Ballet and has gone on to have a professional career dancing with many companies, including Baltimore Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, and Brandon Ballet. Other teachers include the former artistic director of both Kaleidoscope and Ballet Pensacola and the founder of the four-year dance education program at Milton High School. The instructors at The P.A.C.E. Studio have the education, experience, character, and background to work with all levels of students, with the result being marked progress, growth, fun, and the development of students with compassion, character, and a genuine desire to help their fellow students succeed. The students at The P.A.C.E. Studio are a remarkable group of young women and men who are friends and teammates. As a parent, it's a pleasure to see the wonderful friendships amongst the girls, and the strong role models and life coaches and mentors the staff are for them. An example of the skill of The P.A.C.E. Studio dance instructors and the motivation of their students is the invitation of twelve of The P.A.C.E. Studio students to attend the Brandon Ballet Summer Intensive this summer. This Summer Intensive is a three-week program, by audition only. The program is headed by Brandon Ballet's artistic director, Octavio Martin.
Octavio Martin, a native of Habana Cuba, was a member of the National Ballet of Cuba for ten years, and their principal dancer (dancer at the highest rank within a professionalballet company) for his last four years with the company. Before becoming artistic director of Brandon Ballet, Martin had leading roles in The Royal Winnipeg Ballet of Canada and Sarasota Ballet of Sarasota, Florida. Martin's desire is to make the art of dance available to all desiring students and use the art of dance as a tool for cultural development.
"Art is something important and fundamental in our society. Art has the potential to unite, speak all languages without words, and it does not discriminate. Arts an lift us up." ~ Octavio Martin
The deserving P.A.C.E. Studio students who have worked incredibly hard and earned the invitation to attend the Brandon Ballet Summer Intensive after auditioning with Octavio Martin himself in February 2013, are listed below. Three of these students are recipients of partial scholarships as noted.
Bailey Coulter, age 18 ~ Bailey has danced at The P.A.C.E. Studio fifteen years. She specializes in hip hop but has many years of experience with ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, lyrical, and modern. She was in a commercial for the American Dance Projekt in 2010 and is currently a teacher, student, and Performance Company Member at The P.A.C.E. Studio.
Lauren Griswold, age 17 ~ Lauren started her dance career at The P.A.C.E. Studio and has been dancing here twelve consecutive years. She is currently a Performance Company member, student, and teacher at the studio. Her leadership is invaluable, and we will miss her dearly when she graduates from high school this year and moves away
to enter a pre¬medicine program at an accredited four¬year university. Lauren plans to continue dancing throughout college and life.
Katelyn Pesile, age 16 ~ Katelyn was in competitive gymnastics for six years before moving here from Annapolis, Maryland and starting her dance career at The P.A.C.E. Studio. This is her third season of dancing and her first season as a Performance Company member and assistant student teacher. Katelyn has been awarded a 50% scholarship from Brandon Ballet for the Summer Intensive.
Elizabeth Watkins, age 15 ~ Elizabeth moved to this area when her father's Navy career brought them from Patuxent River in Maryland back to Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Elizabeth has been dancing for nine years, starting with her first ballet class through a Whiting Field recreational class. She grew from a recreational dancer to a serious dance student when she began dancing at The P.A.C.E. Studio five years ago. She has been a member of the Spotlight and Performance Company for all five years atthe studio. Elizabeth is also one of our assistant student teachers.
Samantha Pesile, age 13 ~ Samantha was a competitive gymnast for six years before she started her dance career at The P.A.C.E. Studio after moving to the area from Annapolis, Maryland. Samantha has been dancing at the studio three seasons. This is her first year as a member of the Performance Company and her second year as an assistant student teacher. Samantha has been awarded a 50% scholarship from Brandon Ballet for the Summer Intensive.
Addison Adkins, age 13 ~ Addison has been dancing nine years, and has been at The P.A.C.E. Studio for three years. This is her first season as a member of the Performance Company and her first season as one of our assistant student teachers. Addison also has a background in gymnastics.
Savannah Snider, age 13 ~ Savannah has been dancing since she was three. Her family chose The P.A.C.E. Studio after moving here from Arkansas in July 2012, and they have not been disappointed. Savannah specializes in ballet but has experience with all forms of dance and has a background in gymnastics. She is currently a Performance Company member, student, and an assistant student teacher.
Delaney Fisher, age 12 ~ Delaney's entire dance career has been at The P.A.C.E. Studio, and she's been dancing with us for nine years. This is her third season on The Performance Company. Delaney has been awarded a 75% scholarship from Brandon Ballet for the Summer Intensive.
Madison Hill, age 11 ~ Madison has always danced at The P.A.C.E. Studio, and this is her fifth season here. This is her first year as a member of the Performance Company. Madison immediately fell in love with dance when she took a hip hop class over summer break five years ago. She now trains in all styles of dance offered at the studio, but her favorites are jazz and tap.
Maddy Jay, age 11 ~ Maddy has been dancing for six years, all at The P.A.C.E. Studio. This is her first year as a member of The P.A.C.E. Studio Performance Company.
Marisa Medina, age 12 ~ Marisa is in her fifth season of dance with The P.A.C.E. Studio. Marisa started dancing at the studio when she was four and kept dancing through first grade. She took a break and returned last year as a fifth grader, enrolling in hip hop. After a full season back, Marisa decided she wanted to be a serious dancer and is currently enrolled in eight classes at The P.A.C.E. Studio.
Celia Agnew, age 10 ~ Celia has danced at The P.A.C.E. Studio since she was 2 1/2 years of age. During her eight years at the studio, Celia has taken ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, and lyrical styles of dance. She has been a part of The P.A.C.E. Studio Performance Company since 2009. Celia has also demonstrated in classes for teachers for the past two years.
Lourdes Bowman, age 8 ~ Lourdes is too young for the Summer Intensive, but she is a part of the Performance Company at the studio and has trained many hours with her fellow members who will attend the Brandon Ballet Intensive. Lourdes has been dancing six years, five of those being at The P.A.C.E. Studio. She begged her parents to let her take ballet lessons when she was two and finally got to start pursuing her dream when she was three years old. This is her first year as a member of The P.A.C.E. Studio Performance Company, and she just can't get enough of dance.
During the Summer Intensive, these students will receive training in various dance styles to include ballet, pointe, variations, pas de deux (a dance for two people, typically ballet with a male and female as partners), character, jazz, modern, Salsa, African, and conditioning. Students receive training from instructors of some of the world's most prestigious ballet companies, including Boston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.
"These students are in for a summer of fun, hard work, and adventure. We are so proud of each of them," says Pesile.
The emphasis and goal at The P.A.C.E. Studio is illustrated in Susan Collier Agnew's Educational Philosophy. Mrs. Susan is the owner and Artistic Director of The P.A.C.E. Studio and celebrates over 22 years of providing quality dance instruction to the children of the Pace community and surrounding area. Her Educational Philosophy states, “Dance is not only learning in the arts; it adds growth for children’s physical, social, and mental wellbeing. Dance encompasses all aspects of race, religion, and economic backgrounds. Dance encourages discipline, motivation, and self-assurance in every child that applies him or herself.”
The result of this philosophy, consistently striving for excellence, and adapting to the needs of every student as much as practical, is students who are having fun and growing. When that is happening, great opportunities like the Brandon Ballet Summer Intensive fall into place. In addition to the Summer Intensive, these girls will be dancing at Disney World and attending some educational workshops there. They have recently returned from the Hollywood Vibe dance convention and competition in Biloxi, Mississippi, where they had a wonderful time and grew in confidence and camaraderie.
They were rewarded with "Gold" for all three of their competition dances, and one of their dances won first place in its division. In an effort to give back to the community, which is a primary focus of the studio, these girls have danced at the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival, the Imogene theater, the 12th Avenue Trolley Tour, and various nursing homes in the local area.
In addition to these great opportunities our dancers have experienced and look forward to this summer, the future is bright for years to come at The P.A.C.E. Studio. This year the studio announced its partnership with Brandon Ballet. The P.A.C.E. Studio is now a satellite school that will work closely with Brandon Ballet Company and its professional staff for years to come. This partnership will provide many new and exciting experiences for our local students, including the opportunity to work side by side with professional dancers from Brandon Ballet Company.
"As a Navy family, we have moved ten times in eighteen years," Pesile says. "Our children have had a lot of great coaches, teachers, and instructors, and they have been involved with some outstanding organizations. The P.A.C.E. Studio is at the top of our list of organizations. We have been involved with and highly recommend without reservation. This studio and the 'family' we have joined there will be one of the things we will miss the most when we move again. Though my own children will never be the subject of the quote below, due to our transient lifestyle, this quote epitomizes the atmosphere at The P.A.C.E. Studio, and there are at least two dancers there now who danced in the door around three years of age and won't be dancing out until life's adventures move them away for work or college."
"Our success isn't the number of students who leave other schools to come to us. Our success is the three-year-old who dances in our door and doesn't leave for fifteen years!" - Rhee Gold - Publisher, Dance Studio Life Magazine.
Pesile notes, "According to our experience, I would say The P.A.C.E. Studio has been hugely successful in the things that matter most."