Florida Youth Dance Gala Offers Unique Opportunity for Students

Students from The Art of Classical Ballet school in last year's gala.

Photo by Neil-Cohen Photography

 

When Mauricio Cañete retired from dancing a few years ago, he wanted to find a way to give back to the dance community. The former Houston Ballet and Ballet Florida dancer considered producing a competition or a gala of professional dancers. But he wanted to do something different.  “At the time I was guesting with a lot of schools,” says Cañete, who lives in West Palm Beach. “I realized that there were so many talented students, but that they really didn’t have the chance to perform beyond once or twice a year. I thought, why not give them the opportunity to dance in a professional environment?” The Florida Youth Dance Gala was born, with its debut held last year to sold-out audiences.

 

This year’s gala on Saturday, February 7 in West Palm Beach, will showcase over 50 student dancers from 16 academies across the state. And because there’s no competition attached, participants enjoy the benefit of performing without the pressure of being judged. “For me, being a dancer is more about the artistic side than the technical side,” says Cañete, who spends the year scouting talent by consulting with school directors and attending performances and regional competitions. “I look for students with a lot of heart, who are going to really wow the audience.” He then works with the school directors to put together a comprehensive program that includes a mix of classical, contemporary and Balanchine works. And for added inspiration, principal guest artists Adiarys Almeida and Randy Herrera are also slated to perform.

 

For tickets and more information, go to floridayouthdancegala.com.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks