Young talent big dreams

Contest allows local children to reach for the stars

Miami Times staff report | 2/20/2014, 9 a.m.
While finalists from prior competitions entertained crowds at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, new contestants nervously took to the stage ...
Young Talent Big Dreams is modeled after the many reality TV talent shows that have gained in popularity in recent years. community.

While finalists from prior competitions entertained crowds at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, new contestants nervously took to the stage at the Miracle Theatre for the launch of this season’s Young Talent Big Dreams talent competition. From krumping to original composition, the styles and art disciplines represented at the opening weekend were as varied and diverse as Miami-Dade County itself.

The Young Talent, Big Dreams competition is for every youngster who has ever dreamed of having The Voice, of being the next American Idol, of showing off their X Factor and proving they have much talent as anyone else in America. And, yes, it is the contest for kids who think they can dance. The competition allows kids ages 8-17 to have their moment in the spotlight -- and maybe even more than a moment.

“This is definitely a launching point for these kids to showcase their talent,” explained Brooke Noble, a spokesperson for Actors’ Playhouse, which is organizing the competition for the fourth year. “It gives kids from throughout Miami-Dade County a chance to show what they can do. They can share their talents with the world and have the opportunity to grow from the experience of performing on stage.”

The competition, which is sponsored by The Children’s Trust, has five categories for individuals: voice, dance, musical instrument, original spoken word and original composition of music or song. In addition, groups of six or under can compete in dance, instrumental music, or contemporary music such as rock, pop and jazz with vocals.

Javmar Perez-Contreras, age 14, has been writing music since he was 10 and performed his original composition on piano. “It all started when I began changing the ending to songs my piano teacher gave me to practice, then I started rearranging them and realized I could just write my own.” The Children’s Trust supports the program to help bolster children’s experiences in the arts, which often take a back seat to academics in many schools. Plus, every child deserves to have a dream.

“The Children's Trust believes in the power of the arts -- to educate, to express, even to heal. Art teaches kids dedication and discipline, which are two virtues we all need in life to succeed,” says Emily Cardenas, the senior communications manager for The Trust.

The competition moves next to the Betty T. Ferguson Recreation Complex in Miami Gardens on March 1 before continuing on to other locations throughout the county. Kids must have parental permission and can pre-register on the Actors’ Playhouse website, where all the rules and requirements are clearly outlined.

Performers at each of the auditions will be selected to continue on to the semi-finals and then the finals. Prizes include cash, tickets to shows, and more. Also, finalists will have the opportunity to participate in master classes with experts in their field. For parents who worry that their children might get discouraged if they are not successful, Noble says that is not what this contest is about.

“There is no Simon Cowell among our judges panels,” said Brooke Noble, a spokesperson for Actors’ Playhouse, referring to the infamous acid tongue of television’s best-known talent judge. Whether or not kids move on to the next level of competition, they get supportive comments and suggestions from the judges and master of ceremonies Earl Maulding, director of the Children's Theatre at the Actors’ Playhouse. “No one is there to break anyone down,” Noble says. “We want everyone to feel special. It’s all about positive feedback and giving them a chance to hone their craft.”