Artistic and Administrative Staff

Philip Neal

Photo of Philip NealPhilip Neal (NGB Artistic Director and Dance Department Chair) was a principal dancer with New York City Ballet for over 20 years and is a repetiteur for both the George Balanchine Trust and the Jerome Robbins Rights Trust, Neal has created work for the Richmond Ballet and has been invited to participate in the New York Choreographic Institute. He has been on the permanent faculty of the School of American Ballet, and continues to teach there as a guest instructor. He has been a guest instructor for numerous dance companies and schools, including Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Joffrey Ballet.



Ivonne Lemus

Photo of Ivonne LemusIVONNE LEMUS (Next Generation Ballet Mistress) began her dance studies at the Provincial Arts School in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and was selected to continue her training at the National School of Ballet in Havana, Cuba. She graduated from the National School of Ballet in 1986 and joined the Ballet National of Cuba, where she was trained by Alicia Alonso, Josefina Mendez, Loipa Araufo and Laura Alonso. Lemus was promoted to soloist in 1996 and later joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada. She has appeared in both classic and contemporary works, including Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, Les Sylphides, La Fille Mal Gardee, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Raymonda Theme and Variations, Apollo, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Carmina Burana. Lemus has also participated in numerous International Ballet Festivals through the Ballet National of Cuba, Festival Cervantino Mexico, Arts Festival Scotland and the Summer Festival Spain, and has performed in more than 30 countries including those in Europe, South America, Australia, Asia and in the United States. As a teacher and coach, Lemus has taught at Costal Dance Center in South Carolina, Jose Mateo Ballet Theater, and most recently, at Boston Ballet and Harbor University in Boston. In 2006, she coached an International Ballet Competition gold medalist, and in 2007, she coached the Dance Olympics gold medalist. Lemus joined the Patel Conservatory as a full-time ballet instructor in August 2007 and is the Ballet Mistress for Next Generation Ballet. During her time at the Patel Conservatory, Lemus’ students placed first at the Youth America Grand Prix regional semi-finals (2008 and 2011); won the Silver Medal at the 2011 World Ballet Competition; won the 2011 YAGP regional semi-final Grand Prix; won the 2011 Gold Medal in the Junior Division at the YAGP Finals; and won the Silver Medal at the 2011 YAGP Finals in the Ensemble category.

Laurie Jones

Photo of Laurie JonesLAURIE JONES (PCYB Principal) started dancing at one of America’s most prestigious schools, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB), with Marcia Dale Weary as well as at Ballet Arkansas with Lorraine Cranford. Jones performed a variety of principal roles with CPYB including the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and Balanchine’s "Concerto Barocco." She went on to continue studies at the School of American Ballet with Alexandra Danilova, Suki Shorer and Stanley Williams. Jones has taught ballet extensively at CPYB for more than a decade, in addition to Ballet Mississippi (with Fernando Bujones), Allegheny Ballet Company, Ballet Arkansas and Orlando Ballet School under the direction of Peter Stark. Jennifer Dunning from The New York Times has praised Jones’ choreography stating that it is “a perfect showcase for classical training that nurtures a joyous appetite for movement.” She worked at several Carlisle Project choreographer workshops both as a dancer and choreographer. Jones has created works for Ballet Mississippi, CPYB and Ballet Arkansas. She has set ballets for Ballet Omaha, CPYB and Ballet Arkansas working with Edward Meyers, Fleming Ryborg, Sean Lavery, and Violette Verdy.

Kelly King

Photo of Kelly KingKELLY KING (Lead Contemporary Teacher) was a Radio City Rockette for 12 years where she worked on several different workshops along with teaching Rockette Intensives. She has performed on stage, television and film. King's credits include Gregory Hines In Concert with Gregory Hines, Fosse national tour, Anything Goes national tour, Busker Alley with Tommy Tune, Will Rogers, Alvin Ailey NY, Sinatra “His World, His Way, His Voice,” Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Rockettes, MTV Music Awards, NBC’s WOW Awards at Lincoln Center, the Today Show's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center, Pussycat Dolls at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas, as well as several Nike industrials and fashion shows in NYC and regionally. King was a resident faculty choreographer at the Broadway Theatre Project for 11 years at the University of South Florida. She is currently working on a new program, The Performing Arts Project, where she is head of the dance department that has just completed its second season with over 120 apprentices at Wake Forrest University in North Carolina. In addition to being a guest teacher at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC, she recently finished teaching at GENDARC Dance Summer Intensive, with more than 50 apprentices, held at Alvin Ailey in NYC. King is also an adjunct teacher at Pinellas County Center for the Arts Gibbs High School in St. Pete where she sets pieces for the dance department spring galas.

Susan Downey

Photo of Susan DowneySUSAN DOWNEY (Lead Musical Theater Dance Teacher) began her passion for dancing at age 4 in Oklahoma and never stopped. Her summer training in early years was at TCU, in Ft. Worth, Texas. She left for California at 18, and studied Musical Theater at U.S.I.U. in San Diego. She became an Actors’ Equity, Screen Actors Guild Member and enjoyed a diverse 10-year singing and dancing career that took her all across America. The last 20 years were spent in the N.Y. area where she began her teaching career. Downey was the Director and lead dance teacher for the United States Military Academy at West Point's Child and Youth Services program and was also Head Tap Teacher for 12 years at Step by Step dance studio in New York state. Forever a student, Downey attends classes, workshops and performances to stay fresh and current. Being a part of the Patel Conservatory and their vision for education in the arts is a huge thrill. She teaches youth and adult Patel Conservatory students tap, jazz, hip-hop and classes in the Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet program. Downey also teaches dance, musical theater and drama to kids in the H.O.S.T. program in Hillsborough Co. Public School District.

Claire Florio

Photo of Claire FlorioCLAIRE FLORIO (Dance Department Manager) began her career at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as an intern with the Patel Conservatory in the summer of 2005. Olson also teaches Creative Movement 1, Creative Movement 2 and Primary for the Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet. She studied dance at the Russell School of Ballet in Fairfax, Va., under Mary Henley and Margaret Virkus. She spent her summers studying dance in programs hosted by the Kirov Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. After graduating from high school, Florio attended Florida State University, where she studied under Anjali Austin, Shelia Humphreys, Rick McCullough and Suzanne Farrell. She graduated in 2005 with her BFA in Dance.

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