Some of the top dancers from around the world and dance prodigies will share the stage when the Youth America Grand Prix celebrates its 15th season with the “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” gala at the Straz Center.
The jam-packed night of dance will feature performances by Daniel Ulbricht, principal dancer for the New York City Ballet; Allison Miller, soloist for the Houston Ballet; Emily Kadow, Grand Prix alumna and San Franciso Ballet corps de ballet dancer; Veronika Part, principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre and Taras Domitro, principal dancer of the San Francisco Ballet, among others.
YAGP has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. The competition takes place annually around the world, with the finals in New York City, and is open to dance students of all nationalities 9 to 19 years old.
For Ulbricht, a native of St. Petersburg, the gala is an opportunity to come back to his hometown and connect with the local talent.
“I get to see my family and friends, and they get to see what I left Florida for in terms of my dancing,” said Ulbricht, who is starring in the Ohio Dance Theater’s performance of “The Nutcracker.” “I’m also fascinated to see the talent that is in Tampa. Tampa is a difficult market for performing arts. It’s important for the community to get behind an event like this.”
Ulbricht began his dance training at age 11. Five years later, he was invited by the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, to continue his dance training. As a student he performed in “The Sleeping Beauty” before becoming an apprentice, fully joining the company in 2001.
He was promoted to soloist and principal dancer in 2007 and has danced featured roles, including “Prodigal Son,” “Stars and Stripes,” “Symphony in 3,” “Swan Lake,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
During the Gala, Ulbricht, who turns 30 today, will perform a pas de deux choreographed by George Balanchine, and a contemporary dance set to Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
Ulbricht praised the Youth America Grand Prix for giving students the opportunities he didn’t have when he dreamed of becoming a dancer.
“It’s very hard in this profession,” said Ulbricht, who is artistic adviser for the Manhattan Youth Ballet. “Everything happens so young. What (YAGP) does is present dancers that don’t have a chance to go to New York for auditions or open calls and gives them that exposure and levels the playing field. These companies don’t come to Tampa to hire anyone, but the YAGP is a great tool for exposing and fostering a lot of young talent. And when you bring the professional close to the student it allows them to see what they become as a dancer.”