‘Champa ballet’: Tampa to host world’s biggest ballet competition

The biggest ballet competition in the world for aspiring youth in ballet is coming to the Straz Center this weekend. 

Youth America Grand Prix was founded by Larissa Saveliev. She wanted to create a competition in which the winners would receive scholarships for training institutions and ballet companies throughout the world. It quickly grew from a few cities in the United States to a year-round event taking place in cities across the globe.

"They particularly love Tampa because the Straz Center facilities are so big, they can have their competition, they can have their master classes and they can also have their gala like they’re going to have Saturday night," explained Philip Neal the artistic director for next-generation ballet at the Straz.

The gala is called ‘Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow’ and will feature some of the world’s best ballet dancers performing alongside some of the winners of the competition. 

"Youth America Grand Prix is a very important process, not only for the hopes of winning and getting a scholarship somewhere, but the process of preparing a variation, going out on stage and dancing it by yourself," Neal shared. 

READ: 'I always wanted to dance': Bay Area woman fulfills lifelong dream of being a ballerina at age 76

"Dancers, at a very young age have to decide that’s what they want to do as a career because their whole youth is training for their career and I think the fact that the Tampa community can witness such stellar caliber of talent, I would encourage them to see it and not just Nutcracker. I love my Nutcracker, but I want dance to be something more than something people see once a year. We have Champa Bay, I want Champa ballet. I really want to create a passion for dance in Tampa and help Tampa understand you’ve got something really fantastic here, let’s take care of it," Neal added. 

The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow gala performance takes place Saturday, January 8, at 8 p.m. at the Straz Center. 

LINK: For more information and tickets, visit www.strazcenter.org.


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