Tiala Taylor

Tiala Taylor was named winner of the Fox Performing Arts Foundation’s 5th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition in 2015. Five years after taking the top prize, Taylor has earned her BFA in Dance from Lindenwood University and currently teaches at five dance studios within the region. The 10th Annual finals will air on Nine Network on Monday, August 10. 

Attending the finals of the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition should be on the bucket list for area residents who enjoy seeing stars in the making. The energy of families, teachers, supporters and fellow performers as the best and brightest of the bunch share their gifts on one of the city’s most famous stage is indescribable. Singers, dancers (both soloists and troupes), musicians (individuals and bands) musical theater performers, circus artists and other talented young people offer a broad mix of entertainment over the course of the evening as celebrity judges with a St. Louis connection select the best in show. 

Thanks to the direction of Tony Parise, wrapped around the talent is a show with the same production value and scale of the Broadway shows that bring national tours to the Fox – particularly the dance sequences. 

The production, presented by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation, was gearing up for a milestone year as they marked a decade of offering the platform for area youth to showcase their gifts. But the pandemic meant that other plans had to be put in place. 

“As the saying goes ‘the show must go on!’” exclaimed Mary Strauss, FoxPACF co-founder and board president. “While I am disappointed the contestants can’t perform in front of a live audience at the Fox, we’re pleased they were able to perform on stage and we are thrilled and grateful Nine PBS has stepped up to provide a platform for the St. Louis Teen Talent Competition.”

Annually, more than 120,000 viewers watch the Nine PBS program featuring the final Teen Talent competition – which is usually taped before a live audience of family, friends, arts educators and others who usually fill The Fox at or near capacity. The 16 acts that made up the 2020 finalists performed in front of a small group of their closest family and friends with a minimal film and stage crew working behind the scenes to adhere to the guidelines implemented to reduce the spread of coronavirus. 

The finals will be aired on the Nine Network at 8 p.m. on Monday, August 10. The online celebration taking place as the awards airs will feature a special performance by last year’s winner and NBC’s “The Voice” competitor Joann Serenko. Additional prizes and scholarships will be announced, including voting for the $1,000 cash prize for the Audience Choice Award.

The Finalists are judged by St. Louis area arts professionals with careers spanning music, dance, and Broadway. This year’s judges are: Audrey Kwong (operations manager at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra), Antonio Douthit-Boyd (co-artistic director of dance at COCA), Carl Nappa (Grammy nominated executive music producer), Taylor Louderman (Broadway actress and 2018 Tony nominee); Ken Page (award-winning actor, director and singer); and Denise Thimes (award-winning jazz vocalist and recording artist). Students will be judged on technical ability, stage presence, interpretation, and originality. 

Dancer Tiala Taylor was crowned winner during the 5th anniversary competition back in 2015 while a student at Ft. Zumwalt South High School. 

“I hope the audience walks away seeing that people as young as we are can accomplish big things, like performing on the Fox stage,” Tiala said as she prepared for her competition winning performance. “I hope that the whole inspires them to work towards achieving their own goals.”

Watching his daughter win the competition was something James Taylor said he would never forget as he watched the show unfold. 

“Sometimes you don’t have words for certain events in your life, and this is certainly one of those times,” he said. “I can’t express what a blessing it is.”

Five years later, Taylor has received her BFA in Dance from Lindenwood University – and along with being a dancer and choreographer, she is an instructor at five area dance studios. 

“I wanted people to know from seeing us that you can achieve what you’ve always hoped for, no matter how big the obstacle.”

Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s presentation of The 10th Annual Teen Talent Competition Finals will air at 8 p.m. on Monday, August 10 on The Nine Network. Additional details about the Nine PBS broadcast, subsequent re-broadcast, and online celebration can be found on the FPACF website  (https://www.foxpacf.org/) and the Nine Network website (https://www.ninenet.org/). 

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