On January 28, the second annual Teen Dance Star competition was held at the Lobero Theatre. The competition featured dancers with backgrounds of all different styles from throughout Santa Barbara County. The ten dancers featured in the event were selected from a pool of applicants who auditioned in early November. The finalists were announced on Teen Dance Star’s social media the day following the auditions. Two of the ten dancers were San Marcos students, junior Karlise Loza and freshman Catherine Pizzinat. The additional eight finalists included Sophia Cordero, Kelby Pintard, Katie Cleek, Grace Salsido, Isabelle Hughes, Natalie Mowers, Audrey Zuck, Tara Mata, and the alternate was Blake Shryer.
Leading up to the performance, the participating dancers spent months creating and rehearsing solos, they attended a seminar on self esteem, and met with a mentor. This year, the competitors were mentored by Juliet Fischer, an acclaimed and experienced dancer, courtesy of the Arts Mentorship Program, which is a non-profit in Santa Barbara that provides training and assistance to youth performers in the community. All ten finalists also attended a seminar on self-esteem held by Leslie Scott who works with Youth Protection Advocates in Dance, a Los Angeles based nonprofit that focuses on supporting dancers with their mental and physical health.
“The self-esteem seminar was a great experience because dancers tend to be really critical of their bodies,” said Karlise Loza. “It was helpful to discover ways to love yourself and embrace your flaws.”
The night began with a red carpet leading up to the Lobero theatre entrance. The finalists, dance instructors, and celebrity judges all walked the carpet and were interviewed by KCYT NC3’s Meredith Garofalo. Family and friends of the competitors held signs and cheered for the dancers they were there to encourage and support. When attendees were seated, guests were randomly awarded with prizes, including UGG boots and throws, provided by Deckers Brands. The performance began with a group dance featuring all ten finalists and the alternate, showcasing each individual dancer’s skills in their different dance styles. Next, the celebrity judges were introduced, which included Chris Judd, Jessica Richens, and Melanie Buttarazzi.
“I had such an incredible experience performing at Teen Dance Star,” said Catherine Pizzinat. “Having the celebrity judges there to give me feedback was amazing because I love to learn from other dancers, especially ones that have dedicated their lives to dance.”
In the first round of the competition, each of the finalists performed an approximately two minute solo and then received comments from the judges panel. After all of the dancers performed, the audience voted for the contestant they believed was the strongest and most qualified. Following a short intermission, the top four finalists were announced one by one and each performed a second solo for the audience and judges. Catherine Pizzinat, Sophia Cordero, Tara Mata, and Natalie Mowers were the four dancers that made it to the final round.
After watching the four finalists’ solos, the audience and judges voted once again for who they deemed to be the best performer and, after last year’s winner Frankie Harman performed a solo, all the competitors gathered on stage for the announcement of the 2017 winner. Sophia Cordero, a freshman at Santa Barbara High School, was announced as the winner of the Teen Dance Star competition and was presented with a glass award.
Though only in its second year, the Teen Dance Star show is a wonderful program to watch and participate in. Be sure to keep your eye out for what this program accomplishes in the coming years.