The National Society of Arts & Letters Florida East Coast Chapter (NSAL) recently held a ballet competition at Boca Ballet Theatre that showcased the talents of an array of young dancers from South Florida. The local dancers were judged by an esteemed panel including Clarence Brooks, Shimon Ito and Colleen Smith. First prize was awarded to Gabriella Garbarini, a 17-year-old student at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, who began her formal dance training at Boca Ballet Theatre. Garbarini will now advance to Nationals where she will compete for a $12,000 prize.
“We were very impressed by the incredible depth of talent displayed during the competition,” said event co-chair Shari Upbin. “This is a very challenging competition, judged on three elements including classwork, classical dance, and contemporary dance. Gabriella truly excelled in all categories.”
Gabriella received a $2,000 award from the local NSAL chapter. The second place winner, 16-year-old Simone Williams, a student at Palm Beach State College, received $1000. Third place winner, 16-year-old Giselle Rubanchik, received $750. The scholarships were underwritten by NSAL members Marilyn and Jay Nelson, Barbara Fisher, and Marcie Gorman.
“Due to COVID-19, we faced many challenges and were unable to present this competition in a public setting, but thanks to Jane Tyree and Dan Guin of Boca Ballet Theater, we were able to hold the competition in their studio, with all students and judges remaining socially distant,” said event co-chair Marcie Gorman. “We are very grateful for their support and to all the judges who remained after the competition to provide career advice to the students.”
Gabarini began her formal dance training at age 10 at Boca Ballet Theater and has performed numerous roles in an array productions including The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Coppelia, and more.
“I am still in shock, but smiling,” said Gabarini. “I want to thank the donors and the entire NSAL team for making this possible. I enjoyed getting the chance to perform for all of you— it really was so much fun— and this achievement will help me to continue on my path to a career as a professional dancer. I enjoyed the experience so much and I am humbled by the generosity of so many. I am honored to represent the East Coast Chapter-Florida Region in the National Dance Competition.”