Coral Gables

‘Young Talent Big Dreams’ contest crowns dancer as grand prize winner

The Dollz perform during talent search finals at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre on Saturday, May 2, 2015.
The Dollz perform during talent search finals at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Miami Herald Staff

After four months of auditions, more than 500 young contestants were narrowed down to 36 dancers, musicians and singers for the Young Talent Big Dreams finals. But it was Barbara G. Perdomo’s elegant dance that stole the show.

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables and the Children’s Trust hosted the fifth annual Young Talent Big Dreams, a competition to find Miami-Dade County’s most talented kids.

During the finals last weekend, five arts professionals served as judges and crowned Barbara, 14, the grand prize winner for her dance performance as a fawn that gets shot while playing in the wild. She was also the winner of the individual dance category of the competition.

Barbara, a student at South Miami Middle School, won a trip for two to see the American Idol finale and a $500 prize.

“I feel very honored to have won,” Barbara said. “There was so much great talent here, and I’m so happy for everyone that made it this far.”

The competition featured six individual categories: pop/rock/rap vocals, musical theater/jazz/classical vocals, dance, musical instrument, original spoken word and original vocal and/or instrumental composition; and three group categories of six or fewer members: dance, musical instrument and band/vocal group.The finalists performed May 2 on stage at the Actors’ Playhouse in front of an audience of about 400.

Earl Maulding, director of Theatre for Young Audiences at the Actors’ Playhouse, has been with the kids every step of the way. He has seen them go from being painfully shy at auditions to transforming their performances by the time they reached the semi-finals.

“We have a lot of those little moments when we see young performers with no training come and they’re so nervous,” he said. “But about 20 seconds in, they realize they’re not going to pass out and the floor will not open up and swallow them. They relax and a new performer emerges.”

Alecsys Proctor-Turner, 16, was the winner of the individual musical theatre/jazz/classical vocals category for her rendition of Your Daddy’s Son from the musical Ragtime. Alecsys has been practicing the song since she was 12. When she was finally able to hit the notes, she knew she was ready to perform the song.

Alecsys said Audra McDonald, who was part of the musical’s original cast, is one of her Broadway idols.

“I was looking at all of her roles and this song spoke to me the most,” Alecsys said. “I knew I wanted to sing that.”

Jabari Capers’ spoken-word piece on social injustice earned him the trophy for that category. Jabari, 16, is in the electronics program at Miami Lakes Technical School. The death of his cousin Trayvon Martin was part of the inspiration behind his words.

“I see a lot of social injustices going on around us that people are afraid to talk about,” he said. “But I feel like God has his own plan and we just have to trust that and follow through.”

Alecsys and Jabari said that being given the chance to perform boosted their confidence and made them feel great about their artistic abilities.

Emily Cardenas, senior communications manager for the Children’s Trust, said one of the most rewarding parts of the talent show is seeing kids acknowledge their talents and continue to pursue the arts.

“Some of these kids have gone on to perform with other youth theatres in the community, they join local orchestras or go to college for the arts,” she said. “We’ve seen lots of success come out of this competition. It’s exciting to see how far they go from here.”