The Coastal Star

Pay it Forward: Ballet competition, opera performance, presentation of scholarships all in store during week of NSAL events

The local chapter of National Society of Arts and Letters will host an elite ballet competition June 2 spotlighting 17 young dancers vying for a $12,000 prize. ABOVE: Co-chairwoman Alyce Erickson and chapter executives Brian Edwards and Shari Upbin with ballerina Sophie Miklosovic. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

    The National Society of Arts and Letters Florida East Coast Chapter will put Boca Raton on the map this month when it welcomes delegates from the national organization to its annual meeting.
    The city will experience a weeklong cultural immersion beginning May 29, with arts-related activities unfolding at Florida Atlantic University, the Wick Theatre & Costume Museum and other venues throughout the city. An elite ballet competition titled En Pointe takes place June 2, featuring 17 young dancers vying for a $12,000 prize.
    “It’s a major, major event that will be in Boca and something very different,” said Shari Upbin, president of the local chapter.
    Judges for the competition are Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School artistic director Cynthia Harvey, New York’s Eglevsky Ballet executive artistic director Maurice Brandon Curry and internationally acclaimed dance photographer and West Palm Beach resident Steven Caras.
    “These dancers coming in from all over the country will actually get not only an opportunity to win big money, which they need, they also will have an opportunity to meet these judges in a very closed environment,” Upbin said.
    The competitors will participate in a master class the next day that includes one-on-one sessions with the judges.
    “If you’re a young dancer, what better opportunity for networking than to meet with someone famous and helpful who’s been there, done that,” Upbin said.
    The events conclude with the Red Rose National Awards Gala on June 3 at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club. The evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing will feature a performance by opera singer Zaray Rodriguez, winner of the NSAL’s Dorothy Lincoln-Smith Voice Competition.
    “The purpose of the gala is to honor the young artists and the young people,” Co-Chairwoman Alyce Erickson said. “We have some really fabulous people attending.”
    The Gold Medal of Merit will go to Wheeldon for his lifetime achievements in the arts and for serving as a role model for budding artists. Scholarships also will be presented to three FAU students and three Lynn University students.
    “It’s good stuff,” Erickson said. “It’s wonderful. It’s all about the young people.”

If You Go
What: En Pointe: Classical Ballet Competition
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 2
Where: Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
Cost: Free
Information: Call 917-797-6653 or visit

What: Red Rose National Awards Gala
When: 6 p.m. June 3
Where: Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, 2425 W. Maya Palm Drive, Boca Raton
Cost: $350
Information: Call 391-6380 or visit

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