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.