TAMPA, Fla. — You may notice lots of teens in leotards and tutus hanging around The Straz Center this week. Hundreds of dancers from across the country will take the stage for the annual Youth America Grand Prix.
From stretching to costumes to rehearsal, behind the scenes at The Straz Center these young performers are preparing for the ultimate audition.
“It is a big honor, not everyone gets to, and it’s really nice just to be able to go on stage and dance a solo especially with these times with COVID,” said Angelina Carbonaro of Clearwater.
Carbonaro is one of more than 200 dancers nationwide who will be putting their best slipper forward in an attempt to secure a scholarship with a dance company or school.
“Being seen by a bunch of ballet masters you get remembered if you really put yourself out there,” said Carbonaro.
“It’s very stressful, they’re critiquing you on your technique, your artistry, so you really have to bring both of those together,” said Simeon Neeld of New Mexico.
If these dancers impress the judges it could set them on the fast track to a successful career on stage. Neeld hopes it could even launch him to Germany.
These dancers said the most amazing part is sharing the experience with so many others who have the same goals and aspirations.
“There are so many different variations people are doing so I get to watch and see how they do them and how they change them and slightly modify them to make them their own,” said Ava Tucker of Washington D.C.
As a special treat for the public, this Saturday, many of these competitors will be teaming up with professionals for a one-night-only performance, “Stars of Today Dance with Stars of Tomorrow.”
“If you are going to watch the Super Bowl why wouldn’t you want to watch the Super Bowl of ballet right,” said Philip Neal, artistic director for Next Generation Ballet. “It’s Champa Ballet, not just Champa Bay.”
For more information and tickets for Saturday’s Youth America Grand Prix Gala go to strazcenter.org.