On August 10th the sixteen finalists of the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition from the St. Louis bi-state metro area competed in a special televised event broadcast on Nine PBS. Students vied for nearly $50,000 in college scholarships, cash awards and special prizes. A full list of prizes and winners along with official event information can be found on the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s (FPACF) website. The distinguished panel of judges, performing arts professionals with careers spanning film, the recording industry, TV and Broadway, had the difficult job of judging the acts on interpretation, stage presence, technical ability, and originality. Now in its 10th year, this year the competition winners were revealed for the first time during the Nine PBS broadcast.
First place was awarded to hip-hop dancer DemBari Taneh from Kirkwood High School who performed a self-choreographed dance to “Got It Good” (photo attached). DemBari received an $8,000 college scholarship, underwritten by Ameren Corporation Charitable Trust. This year two acts tied for 2nd place, Kelsey Carnes, from Francis Howell North High School, for her original contemporary dance performance; and tap dance group Barbapapa’s Groove, which included dancers Mackenzie Branson, Emma Bilzing, and Ja’La Stancil (Belleville East Hight School), Jenna Jelks (Belleville West High School), and Amariss Mueller (Freeburg Community High School). Each 2nd place act will receive a $6,000 scholarship, one underwritten by John Russell and one by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation. The $4,000 scholarship provided by Sally Johnston for 3rd place was awarded to contemporary dancer, Lexie Antolik from Columbia High School for her performance to “Half Light”. The $1,000 cash Audience Choice Award went to singer Kyle Rehme from Timberland High School. (Additional photos available upon request.)
The finalists’ acts were filmed in isolation on stage at the Fabulous Fox stage for this special program. The professionally produced show was written and directed by Tony Parise (Broadway actor, dancer, director, choreographer and St. Louis native). Acts were advised by musical director Stephen Neale (composer, conductor, pianist), and choreographer Yvonne Meyer Hare (Professional Dance Center).
Following the program, viewers were invited to special After-Party streamed on foxpacf.org where they voted for the winner of the $1,000 cash Audience Choice Award. The After-Party was hosted by Teen Talent Emcee Ben Nordstrom who announced additional special awards and prizes awarded to finalists and semi-finalists. The announcement was followed by a return performance from Joanna Serenko, the 2019 St. Louis Teen Talent Competition winner, who performed her original piece “Best of Me” with her band. After her performance, Serenko joined the After-Party live to announce the winner of the Audience Choice Award to close out the celebration.
Nine PBS will rebroadcast the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition Finals on Saturday, August 15th at 7 pm and the Competition will also be available to stream online at ninenet.org/teentalent. The after-party is available to stream on the FPACF YouTube Channel youtube.com/foxpacf. This special presentation was supported by Mary Strauss and Grand Center Arts Academy, providing the opportunity for the Final Competition to move forward after being postponed this spring and bringing the program a broader audience to experience the joy and magic these aspiring artists bring to the Fox stage.
Preregistration for the 11th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition is now open. Additional information can be found on the Foundation’s website.