04/15/16

Spring Events at the USF College of the Arts

By guest blogger Jennifer Bennett10308298_10203749113037648_7190395883525380876_n

Last weekend, through a partnership with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was invited to attend the USF College of the Arts spring Student Dance Concert. The concert was held from April 4th through April 10th and was presented by the College of Theatre and Dance’s Student Production Board.logo

Each year the College of Theatre and Dance produce and perform amazing shows for the USF and Tampa Bay audiences. In the fall of 2015 the school performed U.S. Drag, directed by visiting faculty member Daniel Granke as well as Pantomime by Derek Walcott, directed by guest artist Henry Muttoo (Cayman National Cultural Foundation Artistic Director), the off-Broadway hit 9 Parts of Desire and a fall Student Dance Concert. For the spring of 2016, they have performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Spring Dance Concert and will be featuring Violet, a musical directed by our newest faculty member Douglas Hall starting on April 14. 

Walking into Theatre 2 at the University of South Florida I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that I was there to watch the Student Dance Concert but beyond that I was not sure what this performance would be like.FullSizeRender

The black box theatre was cozy and comfortable. I chose a seat in the middle top row giving me a nice visual of the dance floor. The concert began a few minutes after the scheduled start time and we were welcomed by one of the dance students who provided us with information regarding the performances which were all pieces choreographed and performed by students. The lights then went black and when they came back up 2 female dancers were ready to begin.IMG_1114

The dancers were diverse and all performed with grace and beauty. I was impressed by not only the dancer’s skills but the support that the dancers gave one another. Each performance was well received by the audience and the loud applause was an audible demonstration of their appreciation and delight. The dancers told stories using their bodies and their music was chosen wisely. The performance right before intermission provided the audience with a sensory experience- music and dance were combined with props in the form of a treasure box and sand and dirt. The aroma added to the story and the experience.IMG_1118

Intermission provided an opportunity for audience members to purchase snacks via donation with all of the proceeds going to the Vargas Scholarship. This scholarship was created in memory of a very special student who passed away several years ago. I donated money to this scholarship knowing that one of these talented and hardworking students would benefit! I headed back to my seat after a few moments in the foyer excited to view the remaining pieces. I was not disappointed as the final pieces were as fabulous as the first performances. 

The last piece not only involved dance but acting and live music. This piece was the most entertaining and I could tell the students enjoyed being able to act along with their choreographed moves. The concert ended and the audience roared with applause. Family members presented students with flowers and hugs and I left the theatre impressed with the USF dance students. I will most definitely be back for more performances and I encourage you to take some time to support the USF dance Department and their amazing students!IMG_1120

I am excited to see the musical Violet performed by the USF theatre department next week. This time I have great expectations and I am sure that I won’t be disappointed!

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If you would like to attend a performance of the upcoming musical Violet, here is the information:

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Violet
Music by Jeanine Tesori and Lyrics and Book by Brian Crawley
Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts
Directed by Douglas Hall
April 14-16 & 21-23, 2016 @ 7:30pm
April 17 & 24, 2016 @ 3pm
Theatre 1, Tampa Campus

With a lead role that won Sutton Foster a Tony nomination for the 2014 Broadway revival and music by Jeanine Tesori (of smash Broadway hit Fun Home fame) Violet tells the story of a young woman’s quest for beauty amidst the image-obsessed landscape of the 1960s. Facially disfigured in a childhood accident, Violet dreams of a miraculous transformation through the power of faith. Convinced that a televangelist in Oklahoma can heal her, she hops a Greyhound bus and starts the journey of a lifetime and discovers the true meaning of beauty, courage and love. 

Tickets for all events are available by phone or at the Box Office (Open: Tues. – Fri. 12:00pm – 4:00pm, weekdays) beginning two weeks prior to opening night.

For day of performance ticket purchases:
The Box Office will be located at the event venue and will be open 2 hours prior to performance time.

Disclosure: I was given tickets in exchange for social media love and blog posts promoting events by the USF college of the arts. All opinions are my own. 

04/4/16

2016 Mazda 6 Review #DriveMazda

This adventure was made possible through my blogging partnership with the awesome people at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided me with a vehicle to test drive. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more…Mazda builds some BEAUTIFUL vehicles. e6407047-1bf7-4765-85b5-abf579209003I spent a whole week with the gorgeous, luxurious and sporty Mazda 6 Grand Touring over spring break a few weeks ago, and I must say, it was difficult letting it go at the week’s end! Between the bright and shiny soul red paint job, to the 19-inch alloy wheels, it was love at first sight. But it didn’t stop there- the inside is a show stopper as well. This option came loaded with gorgeous black leather seats, and a crisp and clean dashboard that was not only beautiful, but easy to navigate. 

When I was originally given the opportunity to test drive the Mazda 6 over spring break, I had planned to take the vehicle for a few stay-cation road trips in and around the surrounding area. There is SO much to do near where I live (Tampa Bay, FL) that just a 1/2 tank of gas will provide you with a change of scenery. As it came closer to test drive time, I started talking to one of my best friends about her upcoming surgery. Liz, from the amazing blog, No Ordinary Liz, truly has #noordinarylife. Somehow, some way, she managed to tear not one but BOTH of her Achilles tendons! Last fall she had her first surgery and when she was almost healed, her doctor began talking about scheduling the second surgery. Liz is completely on her own for the most part, but luckily she has a HUGE network of people (including her amazing sister and brother-in-law) that were here to help her for both surgeries. When Liz began talking about how it would be difficult for her sister to take off a week of work to help her during her first week post-op, I suggested that Liz schedule her second Achilles surgery during my spring break so that she would have the help that she needed. Well, we certainly made the most of the Mazda 6 during that time- and trips to the doctor’s office for post-op visits were a little more special than they would have beenIMG_4586

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The Mazda 6 is surprisingly roomy. Liz (and her cast which we kindly dubbed “the chicken nugget”) was able to sit comfortably for the almost 30 minute drive to the doctor’s office and was floored by the 180 degree incline that the front seats recline to! She was feeling a bit uncomfortable on the ride home, but was able to recline and rest a bit with that comfortable feature. I was also floored by the amount of space the trunk had! Although I didn’t snap a picture, we were able to fit Liz’s folding wheelchair PLUS two full size crutches in the trunk. I did, however, snap a picture of a Target trip that same week. 

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In addition to the comfort and space, I loved the rear back-up camera, the Bose centerpoint premium audio surround system, crystal clear LED lighting system, and the gorgeous view from the one touch open moonroof/sunroof. The Mazda 6 is also excellent on gas mileage, getting 26/38 MPG with the 184 HP 2.5L SKYACTIV-G-powered engine. 

In addition, the 2016 Mazda 6 is equipped with available Smart City Brake Support. There are some amazing safety features, but my favorite would have to be the blind spot monitoring control, the rain sensing windshield wipers and rear view back-up camera with rear-cross traffic alert. It’s a great feeling to know that I those added safety features right at my finger tips. I also really appreciated the head’s up display! It took a day or so to get used to it, but once I did, I was hooked.  

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Some additional features of the 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring
Engine/Mechanical Features

  • SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
  • 184 hp @ 5700 rpm; 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm torque
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
  • Electric Power Assisted Steering

Exterior Features

  • 19-inch Alloy Wheels
  • P225/45 R19 all-season radial tires
  • Variable Rain-Sensing Wipers
  • Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade
  • Heated Power Mirrors w/ Turn Lamps
  • LED daytime running lights 

Interior Features

  • 5-Passenger Seating
  • Air conditioner with pollen filter
  • Tilt & Telescopic Steering Column
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel w/ Audio/Cruise/Bluetooth Controls
  • Power Automatic Door Locks
  • Power Windows w/ Driver One-Touch
  • Leather Trimmed Sport Seats
  • 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat
  • Driver Power Lumbar Support
  • Manual Passenger Seat Lifter
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Mid w/ Trip Computer
  • Advanced Keyless Entry System
  • Electronic Parking Brake
  • Push Button Engine Start
  • Dual Zone Auto Climate Control
  • BOSE AM/FM/CD/MP3/SAT 9-SPK
  • HD Radio/Aux Jack/2 USB Input
  • Bluetooth Hands Free Phone/Audio
  • 7″ Color Touch-Screen Display
  • Multi-Function Commander Control
  • Rearview Camera
  • Dual Illuminated Vanity Mirrors
  • Center Armrest w/ Covered Storage
  • Rear Seat Center Armrest
  • Carpeted Floor Mats
  • Mazda Navigation system

Safety and Security Features

  • 60MO/60K MI Powertrain & 36MO/36K MI Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty
  • 24-Hour Roadside Assistance (36MO/36K MI)
  • 5-Passenger 3-Point Safety Belts
  • Latch Child Safety Seat Anchors
  • Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • SKYACTIV Body
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS with EBD & Brake Assist)
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Hill Launch Assist
  • Advanced Dual Front Airbags
  • Front Side-Impact Air Bags
  • Front & Rear Side Air Curtains

If you’re looking for a comfortable vehicle that is PERFECT for families, couples or even if you’re just living the independent life, check out the Mazda 6! It’s super affordable starting out at around $21,500!

Have you driven the Mazda 6? What did you think?