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Arts & Music

See some of the world's best ballet dancers Saturday

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 08:04 AM

Some of the world's best dancers will perform some of the most beloved pieces of classical ballet during "Ballet's Greatest Hits" on Saturday at the Straz Center.

The principal dancers, many performing here for the first time, hail from some of the most prestigious ballet companies. They include Ekaterina Komarova of Mariinsky Ballet; Ashley Bouder and Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet; Maria Kochetkova of the San Francisco Ballet; The Joffrey Ballet's Fabrice Calmels; The American Ballet Theater's Marcelo Gomes; Alicia Graf Mack and Antonio Douthit of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Veronika Part and Skylar Brandt of the American Ballet Theater; Carla Korbes of Pacific Northwest Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada's Greta Hodgkinson.

The dance stars will perform in pieces they are best known for, such as "Swan Lake," "The Sleeping Beauty," "Don Quixote," "Coppelia," "Giselle and Flames of Paris," and "After the Rain," among others.

The one-night performance, presented by the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), will be filmed by Emerging Pictures and broadcast in theaters early next year.

Peter Stark, artistic director of Next Generation Ballet, calls the show unprecedented.

"It's remarkable what is occurring," said Stark, dance department chair of the Patel Conservatory. "These are the biggest stars in classical ballet coming together from very diverse companies in one place at one time."

"Ballet's Greatest Hits" is the culmination of Tampa's regional semifinals of the YAGP, the world's largest ballet scholarship competition.

The YAGP has presented the annual dance gala in New York. This is the second time it is being held in Tampa.

Started in 1999 by former Bolshoi Ballet dancers Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, YAGP is one of the most influential youth ballet competitions in the world, with more than 25,000 participants, and $2 million in scholarships distributed, according to its website. Representatives from leading ballet companies attend the finals in New York City each year, scouting for dancers.

Stark hopes Tampa's dance spectacle continues to fuel interest in ballet.

Attendance at "The Nutcracker" has gone up for the past three years, and Next Generation Ballet has seen its audience grow more than 40 percent each year, according the Straz Center.

"Ballet is a small niche in the field of classical performance arts," Stark added. "This is a tremendous opportunity to get people in the door to explore the best of what ballet has to offer. This is the center of the ballet world right here in Tampa."

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