About Us

The Directors

Julie and Matt Smith bring to your children 30 plus years of their own professional experiences, hard work and dedication in their performing arts. With this advanced experience, students will have the opportunity to work in a professional atmosphere and be directed by true professionals.

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Julie Smith

Director

Julie Pappas Smith received her BFA in musical theatre from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Her professional career has taken her around the world. She has had the privilege of working with great artists such as Harold Prince, Susan Stroman, Baayork Lee, Ben Vereen, Chloris Leachman and Len Cariou to name a few. Julie has toured with Broadway National Tours as well as European Tours, lived and performed in Tokyo, has sung at the Royal Albert Hall in London and was a featured vocalist for Norwegian and Carnival Cruise Lines. Ms. Smith has also dabbled in a few films, television and commercial voice over work.

Now as the "Teacher" her role has changed from the performer to the dedicated instructor and director. Julie has directed and choreographed for numerous musicals in magnet schools, theater arts schools and childrens theatre in the Miami area and in New Hampshire. Julie Smith has taught at Miami City Ballet, NWSA, UM, FIU, ABC, Jill Mallory Dance Studio and is a guest teacher at   Palmer Trinity, Gulliver, Belen Jesuit and Southwood Middle School . She is also an alumni and summer faculty for the Marblehead School of Ballet and The Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee's Summer Musical Theatre Dance Intensive.

 
 
 

Matt Smith

Director

Matt Smith has been playing drums for 38 years and holds a degree from Berklee College of Music. His professional career includes playing worldwide with such artists as Charro, John Davidson, members of the Buddy Rich Big Band and the Stan Kenton Orchestra as a show band drummer or Carnival Cruise Lines, playing at Disney in The Hollywood Hitmen, and original touring bands in the styles of ska/reggae, rock, and gospel, and also as an educator and recreational group drumming facilitator.

He has recently played drums for dance classes and workshops and teaches classes he designed called Rhythm RebelsTM where he teaches world percussion rhythms and Step in Time where he teaches music theory and rhythm for dancers so they understand the special relationship between dance and music. He is also a guest artist in local schools where he teaches leadership and teamwork skills through the use of drumming. Most recently he has become a certified meditation instructor and uses the power of drums to help people in their pursuit of wellness.

He brings his extensive knowledge and experience as a musician together with his wife Julie’s expertise in musical theater with the goal of teaching future professionals the skills necessary to make it in the professional world. He is also equally passionate about making music easily accessible to anyone who just wants to experience the joys of making music without the desire to take it to the professional level.

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Priscilla Blanco

Piano,Music Theory, Voice, Pre-Pro

Priscilla attended Florida International University for her undergraduate and graduate studies in music education. Priscilla studied piano with Dr. Nancy Luzko and Dr. Jose Lopez and studied voice with Dr. Kathleen Wilson while at FIU. She taught in the public school system for five years while holding leadership positions as Secretary and then President with the Dade County Music Educators Association. Priscilla has been the recipient of the Rookie Teacher of the Year for the central region and has collaborated in organizing district wide festivals for MDCPS students.

Priscilla is also the co-founder of Spark! Music Initiative, a non-profit based in Grand Cayman, which focuses on music making in a creative light. In addition,she music directs locally having worked on shows like Gypsy, Songs for a New World, Legally Blonde, Violet, Edges, Rent, Damn Yankees, Wedding Singer, Crazy for You, Willy Wonka, Cinderella, 42ndStreet, among others. Priscilla also works as a vocal coach and accompanist throughout South Florida.

 
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Manuel Lisandro Paneque Lahens

Guitar

Manuel began his musical studies at the Vocational School of Art of Holguin, Cuba, where he graduated as a guitar major. He continued his studies at the National School of Arts in Havana, Cuba, where he graduated in Music with specialization in lute and direction of musical ensembles. In his country of origin he performed concerts as a soloist in several events such as the International Guitar Festival of Havana and the Festival of Contemporary Music. He also participated as a musician, arranger in the musical television program Palmas y Cañas and was musical director of the radio program Newsletter Sung in Havana. In both spaces he had the opportunity to accompany the most famous cuban singers, Omara Portuondo, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, among others.

He settled in Colombia for 15 years integrating groups of Cuban popular music and international groups and has also been presented as a soloist as a concert guitarist dabbling in the investigation of old musical genres for lute. At the same time he made a significant career as teacher and researcher in the world of Artistic Pedagogy with a book published. With the National Theater of Colombia he worked in academic spaces and in various scenic mounts. As a soloist he has toured Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, and the United States in concert halls in Los Angeles, Miami, among others.

In the United States where he resides since 2015 he developed a career as a soloist and composer of chamber music, with sheet music for lute, for guitar and lute and lute and piano.

In January of this year he marketed his first solo musical production "The Lute she sings to Cuba" with production mastered in Los Angeles in the RYCY Productions, studies of the Grammy award winning Yalil Guerra, available on ITunes.

Jesse Carlo

Special Guest Teacher

Jesse Carlo is a seasoned performer and scholar. His professional performance career includes, B’way: The Capeman, Footloose; B’way National Tours: Gypsy, Evita, My Fair Lady, Smokey Joes Café, as well as a host of Regional Theatre productions. Jesse is also an international director, choreographer, and arts educator. He currently teaches Humanities and Philosophy at Miami Dade College. He holds an M.S. Ed. in Interdisciplinary Arts and is completing his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Humanities and Culture/Social Justice, Social Change.