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Local dancer wins annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition

Tiala Taylor performs during the finals of the 5th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition.   (Photo courtesy of FPACF)

Tiala Taylor performs during the finals of the 5th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition.
(Photo courtesy of FPACF)

Making her dreams come true

When Fort Zumwalt North High senior Tiala Taylor made the final round of the 5th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition, held on April 24 at The Fox Theatre, she said she was surprised.

“I, personally, was surprised, because I looked at the acts that were before and after me in the semi-finals and I was like ‘I have a good chance of making it,’ but in my mind I didn’t have a definite chance of making it,” Taylor said.

Performing on The Fox Theatre’s “fabulous” stage can be intimidating, but going into the finals Taylor said her goal was to “own it.”

“It’s a huge stage, especially for one dancer,” she said. “You have to own it. It’s easier to own a smaller stage than one that is massive, because you’re the main focus and (the audience) can see every single move that you make.”

Dancing since the age of 3, she chose a contemporary dance piece for her act in the finals.

“It’s a personal routine that showcases the story of my life,” she said. “So, I really want the audience to connect with me on that.”

But connecting with the audience is only half of the story. Competitors also have to impress and connect with the judges. For Taylor, one judge in particular was at the top of her list – Alicia Graf Mack.

“She is a beautiful prima ballerina,” Taylor said. “I told my mom, ‘I don’t even care if I win anything, I just want to shake her hand and I want to take a picture with her.’ She’s inspiring to me. I have always wanted to work with her.”

But win Taylor did – and she won big – taking home first place in the competition sponsored by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation and collecting a handful of scholarships – including the $7,000 first place award, underwritten by Ameren Missouri. Additionally, Tiala received The Fromm Family Dance Performance Award, underwritten by Ron and Cheri Fromm, and The Big Muddy Summer Intensive Scholarship, provided by The Big Muddy Dance Company.

Audrianna Bartholomew, a junior at Francis Howell North High, also was among the 13 talented teens who reached the final round of the competition.

Like Taylor, Bartholomew has been honing her talent since she was 3 years old. She is currently involved in her school choir, church choir and participates in musicals and community theater. For her act in the finals, she sang “Broken Vessels.”

“I chose (this) song, because it really spoke to me when I first heard it at my church,” she said. “Every time I’m having a bad day, or I’m not feeling too well, it always cheers me up, so I wanted to share that with others.”

Prior to the final competition, Bartholomew said that singing in The Fox Theatre is what excites her the most.

“(Thinking about) just the amount of people that have performed there and I get to be on the same stage, it’s just exciting to me,” she said. “I’ve performed at other venues, but this is going to be new. It’s a really big deal, especially coming to St. Louis and everyone knows The Fox Theatre here.

“I’m the type where I get a little nervous backstage … but once I get on the stage it’s just I feel so comfortable there and it’s  (like) my home that it kind of just all goes away. The bigger the crowd, the more I feel I can touch people and the more adrenaline pumps through me, so I get more excited.”

Bartholomew’s excitement turned to joy when after the finals she was awarded The Kranzberg Vocal Performance Award, underwritten by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg.

As with all great performances, an encore is in order – and The Nine Network is happy to oblige. On Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m., the 5th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition will be broadcast on PBS.

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