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Innovation & Job News

Tampa's Straz Center Creates Next Generation Ballet For Ages 16-21

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has created another opportunity to develop young talent and launch them into stardom.

The Next Generation Ballet (NGB), founded by Peter Stark, a renowned international coach of ballet and chair of the dance department at Patel Conservatory, will nurture the development and careers of talented, young dancers and audiences. Ballet patrons will have an opportunity to experience these young dancers who are being groomed for professional employment through high levels of instruction, coaching and performance opportunities led by Stark, who is serving as NGB's artistic director.

"It's really thrilling for me," says an enthusiastic Stark. "Basically we are starting a ballet company and modeling it from something that really hasn't been done in the ballet community."

The idea for NGB is a hybrid between a youth ballet company and a professional ballet company. It is modeled after the successful New World Symphony in Miami, which combines professionally trained musicians with students in the area of classical music. For the upcoming 2010-2011 season, NGB will feature eight apprentice dancers, 12 trainee dancers and the most accomplished students from Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet.

This new concept will allow audiences to experience local talent and dance that is of international quality. Apprentice dancers can participate with NGB for two to four years and will dance in two annual productions.

"We have some really exciting talent and what is great about being at the Straz Center is that we have its backing and incredible theaters, really amazing sets and costumes for the productions that we are putting on stage," says Stark, who taught ballet in Orlando for 10 years before moving to Tampa. Five families of Stark's students have already relocated to the Tampa Bay region so their teens can participate in this company.

First season NGB dancers will be featured in The Nutcracker this December, along with guest artists from New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet. One of Stark's former students ,Jeffrey Cirio, won the Princess Grace Award and will be a guest performer in the Nutcracker.

First auditions for The Nutcracker were held on Aug. 28, and a second audition is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11.
The NGB will also perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream on May 14, 2011.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn and Mandy Erfourth
Source: Peter Stark, Next Generation Ballet & Patel Conservatory

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