Nutcracker wouldn’t be Nutcracker without the local Children’s cast! Dancing along side the full professional Russian cast are local Florida children from Mary Jo's Performing Arts Academy. For 40 years, Mary Jo's Performing Arts Academy (MJPAA) has been a leader in the Tampa Bay area specializing in dance, acting, voice and music education. Their distinctive combination of performing arts curricula and professional compassionate faculty provides students an edifying experience while developing friendships and a lifelong appreciation of the arts. Under the tutelage of Artistic Director Mary Jo Scanio, the Academy has grown to incorporate education in all areas of the performing arts and has emerged today as one of the finest training facilities in the southeast region. MJPAA is founded on the belief that arts education is character education, instilling the discipline, self-confidence, creativity and life lessons necessary for students to succeed in any path they choose. The Academy has been home to over thousands of aspiring artists, many who are currently enjoying careers in the performing arts as entertainers, choreographers and educators.
Mary Jo Scanio takes the reigns as Moscow Ballet Host Dance Studio in St Petersburg/Tampa Bay following the Judith Lee Johnson Dance School which was a Moscow Ballet Host Studio since the earliest North American tours in the 1990’s. The longest continuously operating studio in St. Petersburg, Johnson’s School is one of the best-known dance schools in Florida with more than 40 years of guiding scores of dancers into America's most prestigious ballet companies including three dancers invited to the New York City Ballet.