Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy

Published on 27 June 2016 in the Business Section of
Carrollwood Neighborhood News & Lifestyles
Mike Bird (author), Mike Bird (photographer)

Click Here for the Article

For over 3 decades, 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 was named one of the top 50 dance schools in the United States in 2004 by Dance Spirit Magazine. Since then, it has continued to remain on the honor roll of Outstanding Dance Schools from 2005 to the present.

We interviewed Mary Jo and two members of her staff and found that Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy encompasses everything; their slogan is “It’s so much more than dance”. Besides dance they offer acting, music, musical instruments, voice, acrobatics and all of the performing arts. Performing arts teaches so much more than just the elements of dance. Students learn responsibility, creativity, gain confidence and they learn how to express their inner voice. Students learn life lessons, for example, how to deal with adversity, as they get older. These are all the things that are encompassed in the study of the performing arts.

MJPAA accepts students as young as 18 months and there is no limit on the age of an adult student. In addition to classes, the school offers vocal lessons, guitar lessons, saxophone lessons, piano lessons, acting lessons, on camera acting lessons and more.

Mary Jo’s has been in business for the past 35 years right here in Carrollwood. Mary Jo graduated from USF with a fine arts degree. Her performing credits include local, regional and national company productions. In addition to performing in dance companies, she was an NCAA dancer and NFL Cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mary Jo has been teaching since she was 16 and has always had a passion for teaching dance and passing on the gift of dance to each new generation of students that come along. Mary Jo’s Daughter, Kristin Scanio graduated from FSU with a degree in Psychology and Child Development. She now serves as the assistant to the director and is active in many roles at the academy.

MJPAA also brings in guest instructors from all over the world for their workshops to join their nationally acclaimed faculty. MJPAA helps students prepare to make the transition to performing arts colleges all over the country. One well known institution is PACE University in New York City. PACE recognizes that MJPAA produces well qualified students who are ready to take on new challenges and reach the next level of their craft. All of the instructors at MJPAA have four year degrees in fine arts, children studies, psychology or the equivalent. This is one of the many aspects that sets them apart.

In addition to its strong dance training program, the theater and music programs are also strong. This is why Mary Jo’s is a performing arts academy; they accommodate the full gamut of the performing arts. The Academy boasts several acting and music teachers, not just one.

MJPAA just finished 5 concerts “productions” of “Where is Carmen San Diego” based on the long playing game show. It was held at the University of South Florida Theatre. The production was outstanding! Just take a look at some of the photos!

Mary Jo’s has classes available now during the summer session. What do you have planned for the summer? At Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy, your child will explore the wonderful world of the performing arts while encountering an educational, fun-filled experience. Students will be introduced to various paths of the arts and given opportunities to act, sing, dance and be creative. They will develop friendships and a lifetime appreciation of the arts. The goal of MJPAA is to provide a safe and stimulation environment that will promote the emotional, social, physical and cognitive growth of your child.

Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy is located at 15906 Mapledale Blvd in Tampa. Enroll now by calling 813-969-0240 or visit their website at for additional information.