Patrice Cantarelli, ’68 – Distinguished Alumna

patricePatrice (Whited) Cantarelli led a rich and diverse professional career including roles dancer, singer, model, actress, tour agent, choreographer, dance instructor and educational arts administrator.

While at Olympia High School, Patrice was honing her performance skills by participating in mixed chorus, girls glee, drama club, Junior Programs, band. In her junior year, she served in the student Senate and attended the UW Drama Institute. Her summers were filled with performing arts enrichment activities.

Performing started at an early age for Patrice, but it really came at her doctor’s direction. Patrice was enrolled in ballet training to correct a deformity in her ankles and knees. At age 8 announced she wanted to be a ballerina to entertain and bring joy to audiences everywhere. And that she did.

Patrice began by studying ballet in classes at the Olympia Community Center on East 4th Ave, next to today’s Olympian. Intensifying her focus, her mother began taking Patrice to Tacoma to continue her ballet studies. When Patrice was age 10(!), Robert Joffrey of the famed Joffrey Ballet Company in New York invited Patrice to study ballet after she graduated from high school, she studied at the Joffrey Ballet Company 1968-70. She then furthered her acting training at the American Musical & Dramatic Academy in Greenwich Village, inspired partly to pain from the demands of ballet. Recovering, she then joined a theater dance group bound for Europe, touring for a year.

Through her years at Olympia High School, Patrice’s broad talents in singing, instruments and stage performing carried her far.

Patrice learned Choreography in Madrid Spain. She lived on a farm in Mazowe, in Africa, where her daughter Alejandra was born. Patrice started dancing again for the National Ballet of Rhodesia, managed a record store and started broadcasting every day to announce the evening’s programming. She worked in creating a children’s puppet program, where she portrayed an American writer, and interacted with 23 puppet characters for television-viewing children. But the Rhodesian war of independence in 1975 caused Patrice to return to Spain, where she worked for a Spanish broadcasting company, dancing.

She worked with famous artists on a daily basis, including Michael Jackson, Patti Austin, Julio Iglesias and Rocio Durcal. She also modeled for commercials, runway work and magazine advertising, and began choreographing runway shows. Returning to Madrid, she became backup singer and choreographer for a Spanish teenage, rock ’n roll super star for stage and television, then taking the show all over Europe, for audiences as big as 30,000. Actors and singers hired Patrice to help refine their routines.

Patrice returned to the United States, to Los Angeles, where she managed her husband’s work in the music industry. She had recurring roles in the soap opera, Young and Restless and in commercials. She was a judge in a Latin version of Star Search, and continued in films, including with the late Patrick Swayze, Ben Gazzara and Sam Eliot.

In LA, she began teaching dance to children and adults at different studios in the Los Angeles area. She began working with the Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreation at local neighborhood centers, and musical arranging. She was a promotional tour manager for BMG/Warner Brothers/Revolution Records, including all technical crew and equipment – all the airlines, ground transportation, management, main offices, regional branches, local promoters, including financials and daily reports.

A total knee replacement and a two-year recovery slowed her physical activity, during which she and her husband started a non-denominational choir that visited the Vatican in Rome on Christmas Day 1999 to sing a the Opening of the Holy Doors with the Pope and more than 80,000 attending.

She teamed with other performing artists in writing the Visual Arts and Performing Arts state standards for California, as she began emerging herself into designing arts education for children across five counties in Southern California, including for dance, music, theater and visual arts.

Today, Patrice is the School Programs Manager for the Music Center in Los Angeles County, where she brings professional development opportunities to classroom teachers at both the center and on site at schools. She manages many grants including the California Arts Initiative the US Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, many more.

She tells people today to not listen to bully them or that they cannot be successful as they pursue their dreams in life, after all, it was crooked knees and legs at a young age, and a doctor’s advice for overcoming, that moved Patrice to a full life of accomplishment.