As one of the first students at the newly formed Pennsylvania Ballet School in the 60’s, our Director, Beth, received excellent ballet training with that young dynamic school. Music was also very big in her family. Everyone played instruments. Mom was a vocalist/actress and for a decade ruled the regional theater companies in the Philadelphia area playing leading ladies in My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, Guys & Dolls, Carousel, Hello Dolly, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof... the list goes on. So when opportunity knocked for the young Beth to join the ranks, she jumped on the chance to work her skills on stage. Through the following years she trained all dance styles and performed as much as possible in many companies and venues. She began teaching and choreographing as a means of passing on her passion.
Fast forward to the year 2000, she and her husband, Marcello, opened BB’s Dance Factory, located in the old Clearwater Mall in the old Blockbuster video store. There was a constant audience of shoppers stopping to peer in the windows at the dance classes. It was very exciting! As time passed, BB's Dance Factory built a bevy of young talented dancers, specializing in classical ballet, jazz and musical theater.
AND THEN CAME THE CIRCUS…
One day Beth's daughter Catie, who was one of these lovely young dancers, decided that she didn't want to be a dancer anymore. Instead, she wanted to run away with the circus and be a “contortionist”. Her Fairy God Mother had given her a video of the 4 little pink contortionists with Cirque du Soleil from their early show “Nouvelle Experience”. It was fabulously fascinating. All Catie wanted to do was put her toes over her head. Then she started to get all the other girls at the dance studio to put their toes over their heads.
Needless to say, Catie’s wish was the beginning of a wonderful journey and provided the vision for the Circus Arts program.
At age 16, Catie was shipped her off to train with Chinese contortion coach, Master Lu Yi, and Mongolian coach Serchmaa Byamba, all the way over in San Francisco, as this was the only place in the country at that time where she could get the proper training. After two years of intensive work, she became a respected dancer/acrobat/contortionist in the entertainment industry.
As Beth watched Catie train one day during a visit, she observed the other athletes training in the gym. All of this was very interesting to her as a choreographer and artistic director. So instead of just sitting and watching Catie train as a doting mother…she decided to get herself a few lessons and wrap her wits around a trapeze. If she could incorporate this circus stuff in her dance shows, how much fun would that be?!
Hence the Circus Arts program was conceived at the dance studio. Changing the studio's name to “Dance & Circus Arts of Tampa Bay”, they were not only training dancers, but were also now training circus artists. It was a fairly logical sequence and it was very exciting.
The school went on to produce 7 years of “The Snow Princess”, a unique grand Holiday show, 6 years of “Fairies, Inc.", an endearing romp in Fairyland incorporating dance, musical theater and circus, along with numerous Galas and showcases along with yearly recitals.
The circus program was “Safety Recognized" by the American Youth Circus Organization in 2015, being the first circus school in the country to apply and receive this award.
To date, many beautiful dancers, aerialists and dancer/aerialists have been trained under their roof, including out of town students hailing from 42 states.
They founded a performing troupe that gets hired out for corporate events, private parties, national fundraisers, etc. Clients include Armature Works, Lokey Clearwater Mercedes-Benz, the Coliseum, Jannus Landing, PARC, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way. You can see more of these beautiful performers at their professional website Moving Arts of Tampa Bay.
Ten years of ongoing circus performances every Saturday and Sunday nights at Casa Tina’s Mexican Restaurant in Downtown Dunedin have established them as a Tampa Bay icon. People remark, “Oh, so that’s you guys!” Yes, it is!
Beth & Marcello are very proud of their students who have gone onto professional performing careers and those that grew into wonderful adults with their own families now.
This is their story. This is how it all came about.
Please come visit their beautiful spacious facility located in Clearwater, FL. You, too, will want to twirl and dance. And maybe some of you will want to run away with the Circus!