On Saturday, February 4, at 2 pm, the musical Frozen Jr. is at Countryside High School. Presented by Ovations Dance Repertory Company, the beloved Disney musical features 52 students aged five to 18. 

Orlando Pena opened Ovations Dance Academy of Tampa in the summer of 2021 in Tampa after over 24 years in New York. Teaching dance to students three years old and up, his goal was not to prepare them for the world of competition but rather introduce them to the beauty of live theatre performances.

“We don’t do competitions, rather focus on performance, because competitions instill a very competitive and somewhat ugly spin on the arts that I don’t like. By performing, you are in service of sharing a story, a dance, a song, and an emotion. We’re here to move and touch people’s lives through art,” he explained. “I started dancing when I was 14 years old, and I fell in love with what I was doing and thought that this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Seeing the student have their a-hah moment or seeing the shy student come in, their parents not knowing what to do, and I teach them, and we bond and form a mentorship, and we build up their confidence through dance and singing – that’s what it’s all about for me.”

Ovations Dance Academy of Tampa offers ballet, jazz, tap, Broadway tap-style, musical theatre, and hip-hop and will perform in local senior homes and community functions. Orlando teaches ballet, musical theatre, tap, and jazz for adults.

“I love working with a lot of kids on stage. I think it brings a different energy to the stage, and I want the audience to feel an experience,” Pena said. “Besides everyone knowing the music of Frozen, especially ‘Let It Go,’ I think it’s a pretty show with beautiful and colorful costumes. I like to commend my cast because the kids will bring their own flavor to the show. It’s their own personalities and my guidance that make it original. After the show, I want people to talk about how fun and talented the kids were.”

Frozen Jr. stars, in order of appearance, Rosie Barnhill, Violet South, Lucas Stauropulos, Bella Albano, Harper Tichenor,  Taran Ravula, Samantha Hardy, Mila Gramatica, Mia Martinez, Abigail Barnhill,  Violet Ritchey, Ava Stanziano, Lola Haeussner, Amanda Bradley, Juliana Spataro,  Leo Durden, Gabby Meo, Greyden Fox, Makenzie Albano, Elleah Shaw, Jacob Pham, Fallon O’Brien, Callie Clovis,  Zoelle Barnes, Madelyn Turza, Jaylyn Dube, Anna Paola Crespo, Maddie McCartney, Eveyln Noskiv,  Ella Tobin, Hudson Coombs, Marcus Hall, Violet Baltz, Rosie Barnhill, Annabella Delgado, Savannah Distefano, Harper O’Connor, Misha Ravula, Violet Ritchey, Elleah Shaw, Violet South, Mia Tanacs, Hudson Tichenor, Madelyn Turza, Ariana Walden-Lalone, Sofia Yantzer, Bella Albano, Makenzie Albano, Abigail Barnhill, Grace Crithfield, Mila Gramatica, Lola Haeussner, Samantha Hardy, and Mia Martinez

Fourteen-year-old Julianna Spataro is Elsa in the February production. Before moving to Tampa, she was a talented student at Pena’s New York dance academy. When she discovered Pena and the dance studio had relocated to her neighborhood, she jumped at the chance to be back under his tutelage.

“I started with Ovations (in New York) when I was ten. When I found out he had another Ovations in Tampa, I auditioned for his show. It’s pretty great. I love my cast, and all the people are so nice. Mr. Pena is one of my favorite directors I’ve ever worked with, so it’s nice that I get to work with him again,” Spataro said. “I really like the role. Growing up, I had every single toy of Elsa; she was my favorite character, so I’m so happy I get to play her at Ovations. The audience should expect to have a good time and see all these talented people perform.”

Disney’s Frozen Jr. is on February 4 at 2 pm at Countryside High School, 300 SR 580 in Clearwater. Tickets start at $15. Ovations Dance Academy of Tampa is located at 13847 W Hillsborough Ave, Tampa. Classes are available after school, beginning at 3:30 pm. For tickets to Frozen Jr. or for more information about dance instruction, visit ovationsdanceoftampa.com or email ovationsdancetampa@gmail.com.