BY JOHN FLEMING
Times Performing Arts Critic
Some of the world's leading dancers will be performing solos and duets from some of the most famous ballets this weekend in Tampa.
Daniel Ulbricht and Ashley Bouder, both principals with New York City Ballet, will dance George Balanchine's Tarantella.
Marcelo Gomez, a principal with American Ballet Theatre, will perform a scene from Swan Lake.
There will also be numbers from Coppelia, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty and other ballet staples, performed by dancers such as Maria Kochetkova of San Francisco Ballet, Greta Hodgkinson of the National Ballet of Canada, Ekaterina Kondaurova of Russia's Mariinsky Ballet, Alicia Graf Mack and Antonio Douthit of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and others.
They'll be in a gala Saturday held in conjunction with the Youth America Grand Prix, which has drawn about 300 young ballet dancers to a major competition at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The gala, with tickets available for the public, will be filmed for Ballet in Cinema, to be shown in movie theaters this year.
"This will make Tampa the center of the dance world for a day," says Peter Stark, artistic director of Next Generation Ballet and head of the dance department of the Patel Conservatory at the Straz. "I'm just so excited to have this many high-caliber dancers here in town."
Ulbricht brings some hometown flavor to the event. A Pinellas Park native, he grew up performing with ballet studios and companies in the bay area before heading off at 15 to the School of American Ballet, which grooms dancers for New York City Ballet. He and Bouder will also perform a pas de deux from Flames of Paris in the gala.
"It's a bravura piece that has flashy, big jumps for both the boy and girl, which is unusual," Stark says. "It will definitely show them off."
Ballet students from age 9 to 19 will perform Friday and Saturday in the Youth America Grand Prix regional competition at the Straz. Winners will go on to the finals in April in New York.
"There is definitely a competitive aspect to ballet," says Stark, who has 28 students in this weekend's competition. "There's an athletic aspect to dancing, it's a physical art form, it's a young art form."
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.