Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Riverview's Katarina Smith takes the stage at Lincoln Center with Next Generation Ballet

She's just 14, but Katarina Smith achieved a goal that few ballet dancers will ever attain.

Along with other members of Tampa's Next Generation Ballet, Katarina recently performed in New York City's Lincoln Center.

The young dancer from Riverview is kind of low-key about the accomplishment.

"It went well," she said. "We got good applause from the audience."

Peter Stark, the artistic director of Next Generation Ballet, said Katarina and her colleagues in the company may not yet fully comprehend.

The company's dancers are students on the verge of starting their professional careers, and they may not have the experience to appreciate how rare their achievement is.

"I don't think they quite get it yet, some of them," Stark said.

It's a goal they'll all be striving for in their careers, he said, "and a lot of them will never get there again."

But perhaps even more impressive than Next Generation's actually dancing at the Koch Theatre — the space in Lincoln Center designed by legendary choreographer George Balanchine specifically for dance — is the journey the company took to get there.

Last year, Next Generation, which comprises dance students from the Patel Conservatory, took part in a prestigious international student dance competition called the Youth America Grand Prix. Some 5,000 dancers, between ages 8 and 19, took part in the competition. Out of hundreds of dance programs, Patel Conservatory's was named the best in the world.

First prize was the opportunity to dance at Lincoln Center, on a program with some of the best and best-known companies in the world.

Not all of the members of Next Generation got to make the trip to New York. Some stayed in town and performed in Opera Tampa's production of Aida.

Next Generation performed a piece called Shostakovich Suite, with choreography by Richard Cook. The program was called "Stars of Today Meet Stars of Tomorrow," and featured such noted dancers as Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo.

Katarina Smith seemed to take it all in stride.

"I was like nervous at first, but once I got on stage, it was more exciting," she said. "Once I got on stage I wasn't nervous anymore."

Katarina has been dancing since she was 8. She started at Brandon Ballet, and joined Patel last year.

She's in eighth grade at Progress Village Middle Magnet. She takes her academic classes from 7:30 until 10:30 in the morning, then goes to Patel for a full day of dance classes. She takes one more academic class online when she gets home.

"I just like the freedom I feel in my body when I dance," she said.

Next year, Katarina will enroll at Blake High School, the arts magnet right across the Hillsborough River from the conservatory. She'll take her core academic courses there and continue at Patel.

It seems like a difficult life for a 14-year-old, but Katarina actually has it a little easier than some of her classmates. It's not unusual for young dancers to move here with their families to study at Patel.

"Katarina happens to be from Riverview, but we have students from all over the country," Stark said. Among the current crop of student dancers are two boys who played Billy Elliot in national tours of the Broadway musical of the same name.

A lot of Patel alumni dance with the most prestigious companies in the world. Many get into schools and apprentice programs for those companies with the help of $50,000 in scholarships they earn through the Young America Grand Prix.

As for Katarina, she and the other dancers haven't had much time to bask in the glory of appearing in one of America's most prestigious dance theaters. They're already busy, staying for hours after their regular classes rehearsing for Next Generation's production of Swan Lake this weekend at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

Marty Clear is a Tampa freelance writer who specializes in performing arts. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

Admiral Farragut’s grit brings state softball glory

VERO BEACH — It was only natural to think of Admiral Farragut’s state title chances more in terms of the future. After all, the roster consists of zero seniors and just two juniors. The rest are sophomores, freshmen and middle-schoolers. Because of t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

The key stat for Lightning-Capitals Game 7? Score first

As the Lightning and Capitals prepare for their series finale Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, here's a by-the-numbers look at each team's Game 7 history.5-2The Lightning's record in Game 7s. It has never lost at home (3-0).+5The Lightning's...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin's takeaways from Rays 4-2 loss to Red Sox on Tuesday:* The Rays record against a Red Sox team they consider a measuring stick doesn't look very good at 3-8. But, as manager Kevin Cash and several players pointed out, there is some consola...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Forecast: Caribbean storm could grow into tropical system

Forecast: Caribbean storm could grow into tropical system

A storm system in the Caribbean Sea could grow into a tropical cyclone within five days, according to the National Hurricane Center.Forecasters give the system a 50 percent chance to develop.The storm’s low-pressure center on Tuesday was nestled betw...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

Academy at the Lakes wins first state softball title

VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce John Ca...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay’s Game 7 to-do list

TAMPA — By now there are no more secrets. After six games over 11 days, the Lightning knows all the Capitals' habits , and the Caps know all the Lightning's.To Lightning coach Jon Cooper the outcome of tonight's Game 7 of the Eastern Conference...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Couple whose dream boat sank finally set sail on ‘new adventure’

Couple whose dream boat sank finally set sail on ‘new adventure’

The young couple whose story traveled around the world after their dream voyage ended early at the bottom of John’s Pass is ready to try again.Three months after the Lagniappe sank, Nikki Walsh, 24, and Tanner Broadwell, 26, said they set sail Tuesda...
Updated: 6 hours ago
USPS to release scratch-and-sniff stamps; Leaks? White House has sinkhole; 2 Oregon teens take down homophobic school officials; more in U.S. news

USPS to release scratch-and-sniff stamps; Leaks? White House has sinkhole; 2 Oregon teens take down homophobic school officials; more in U.S. news

Updated: 7 hours ago
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Driver gets 28 years in prison for fleeing fatal Howard Frankland crash

Driver gets 28 years in prison for fleeing fatal Howard Frankland crash

TAMPA — After Allison Huffman slammed her car into a tow truck driver who had stopped to help a pair of stranded motorists on the Howard Frankland Bridge, she drove to a hotel and got out to look at the damage.She saw shattered glass, a bare tire rim...
Updated: 8 hours ago