A "mesmerizing" dance performance by a Pinellas County teenager has landed her a spot in the finals of NBC's "America's Got Talent."
Lindsey Norton, a 16-year-old acrobatic dancer from Oldsmar, impressed the judges and earned a standing ovation from the audience at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg while exhibiting her graceful moves and flexibility that were a mix of gymnastics and ballet.
Tuesday's episode of the competition series was the second that featured acts from auditions held in April in St. Petersburg, and Norton will now compete in the finals in Las Vegas.
"I can see you're serious about your craft," judge Sharon Osbourne said. "You put in time and effort. You're like a little angel, and you're a great example for 16-year-olds out there. You're a beautiful young girl."
Norton, a student at East Lake High School, was overcome with enthusiasm before and after her audition. She giggled with excitement as judge Howie Mandel compared her dance moves with the gymnastics floor exercise routines that soon will be featured in the Olympic Games, drawing loud ovations from fans holding signs in support of Norton.
"I'm just so excited," she said, laughing.
Norton said she has been dancing since she was 2 because she "loves to perform for the audience. That's what I live to do."
In 2010, she represented the United States in the International Dance Organization's World Cup in Poland, winning gold medals in the Jazz and Modern divisions.
That accomplishment was not lost on Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed "Satan" of the panel who offered the most complimentary critique of all the judges.
"Most times when someone says to me, 'let's go to the ballet,' I'd rather pull my nails out," Stern said. "Here's what's great about you. You are everything that America should be about. You're somebody who works hard; what you do is mesmerizing, inspirational, and belongs on the stage."
Norton was one of several acts to advance to the finals, including Big Barry, a "70-year-old teenager" who performs a comedy act that pokes fun at his height; and Taylor Reed, a magician/illusionist who made a motorcycle appear on stage.