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Gulfshore Ballet hosts annual Spring Showcase at BIG ARTS May 16

By Staff | May 13, 2010

"Dancers are the athletes of God" -Albert Einstein


Julianna Padilla is a girl on a mission. Instead of playing with dolls, friends, video games, or watching cartoons, she spends her time at the Gulfshore Ballet in Fort Myers. Two years she has spent there learning the art and discipline needed to be a ballerina.

"I loved dancing even when I was a baby," Julianna, 5 1/2 said. "My mommy got me a book about ballerinas when I was really little and I wanted to be like the girls in the book. I love to go to Gulfshore Ballet for lessons because I get to learn from real ballerinas, I get to be onstage, and I get to dance with professional ballet dancers in the ‘Nutcracker’ every year.

It’s hard work and I get all sweaty, but I love ballet."

Julianna and students of all ages and skills will be showing the island community their talent and hard work during a show at BIG ARTS this weekend.

Gulfshore Ballet students will perform in the annual Spring Showcase, Sunday, May 16, at 4 p.m. The show is a culmination of the 2009-2010 school year and will feature a variety of pieces and music. BIG ARTS is located at 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel. The prograsm is free and open to the public.

Each year, Gulfshore Ballet students ages three to adult participate in the Spring Showcase, a year-end performance featuring pieces from a variety of ballet works, both classical and contemporary, with a touch of jazz, according to a press report.

This year’s performance includes original choreography by Gulfshore Ballet’s renowned faculty, as well as the great ballet classics and much more.

"This is a way for us to give back to the community," said Roberto Muñoz, Executive Director and Ballet Master of Gulfshore Ballet. Gulfshore Ballet, at 10-years-old the area’s only non-profit school, has about 100 students of all ages despite a rough economy. Muñoz and Melinda Roy, his wife and founder of Gulfshore Ballet, said attendance at the school

decreased during the economic recession — ’though they saw a slight increase in the number of students this year. The school depends on donations and grants to help stay in operation. Tuition does not cover all of the costs, Muñoz said.

But for young dancers, the school’s value is is immeasurable. For them this is a chance to become a professional dancer.

Roy, a retired principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, and Muñoz, an instructor with the prestigious Pittburgh Ballet Theatre School, work to help talented and driven students to make it into the schools that lead to becoming a professional dancer.

For parents having a non-profit professional ballet school in the area is priceless. "You can’t get your hands on training like this in Southwest Florida," Amy Padilla said. "I don’t know what we would do without the school."

For Padilla the school is a beacon of hope that her daughter Julianna may someday dance her dreams out for the world to see. Julianna is flitting and twirling about any time she has the chance. "This is what she was born to do," Padilla said. 

Throughout the season Julianna and the other students, ranging from three to adult, have opportunities to meet with professional dancers as well as see them perform in "The Nutcracker".

But students delight at the opportunity afforded by the Spring Showcase to show parents and their community what they pour sweat and work into all year long. The program is comprised of a variety of pieces including excerpts from George Balanchine and George Gershwin. Some of the advance students will be performing pieces which are more fussy and and very difficult, Muñoz said.

Gulfshore Ballet’s 2010-2011 school year will start in August. Schedules will be announced shortly. Visit www.gulfshoreballet.org ;for updates, registration packets, additional information on programs, and biographies of the critically-acclaimed faculty.

For details and more information, call 239-590-6191 or email


(Gulfshore Ballet (GSB) has provided quality education in classical ballet to students for nearly a decade in Southwest Florida.  Founded in 2000, GSB remains the area’s only non-profit classical ballet school.  This pre-professional school has provided children with world-class training typically only available in major metropolitan areas.  GSB works to increase

awareness, appreciation, and accessibility of this classical art form in Southwest Florida through outreach programs, while improving the lives of