Youth America Grand Prix holds Tampa auditions this weekend

It could be called the American Idol of ballet, and it's going on right now in Tampa.

Hundreds of talented student dancers, ages 9-19, are auditioning for the Youth America Grand Prix. 

"If you're a ballet lover, it's great, because you can just sit here for days and have a feast of ballet," said Philip Neal, of Next Generation Ballet.

Students with the highest scores will continue to the finals at Lincoln Center in New York City in April. Winners will receive scholarships to top schools and dance companies.

Students attend workshops, dance classes, and audition in hopes of making the finals. The auditions are open to the public to watch.

"Well, the feeling after you go on stage, just the adrenaline kicks in, you just feel happiness,” said Ellie Rohleder, an 11-year-old dancer. Just the way that I feel when I'm dancing, and I love how challenging it is and the feeling of accomplishing something.”

This year's international auditions were held in Brazil, Korea, Australia, Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain. North American audition stops included Tampa and more than a dozen other cities.

Saturday night at 8 p.m. students will perform with professional dancers in a gala.  Tickets can be purchased at the Straz box office.

A full list of audition cities can be found at

A full break down of the schedule can be found here