Local dancer Noah Campbell wins big at Youth America Grand Prix
It’s been a week for Noah Campbell. First, he turned 14 on Monday, May 24. Then, on Wednesday night, he found out he was receiving a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet in London after competing in the final round of the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest student ballet competition. , in Tampa.
This means that he will leave the Sarasota Ballet‘s Margaret Barbieri Conservatory, where he trained for the past two years, to attend a full-time boarding school in September at the # 1 ballet school in the world. (He’s also received offers from the Princess Grace Dance Academy in Monaco, a prestigious school in Switzerland, the Houston Ballet and more.) But as his father Brian explains, “you’d have to know Noah” to know that ‘he’s excited about it. Speaking with the young dancer, he looks happy and says he was surprised by his good fortune, but not at all nervous.
“It’s gonna be a big change,” says Noah, who stays so busy with his dance lessons that the furthest he’s gone alone before is a sleepover at a friend’s house. But he says he doesn’t get really nervous before playing (“that doesn’t help”) and that leaving his home and family doesn’t seem to make him nervous either.
According to Dad Brian, who also worked as a dancer in Chicago years ago, it’s just Noah’s laid back nature. But maybe it’s also because he’s been studying dance for so long – since he was little.
“We started it in classes when we were about 3 years old,” recalls Brian. Noah’s sister, Savannah, 16, also a student at Sarasota Ballet, started her dance lessons at around the same age. Brian said it was always up to them if they stayed with it, adding with a laugh, “I myself would have had a lot more free time if they hadn’t.” It is their own love and passion for the art form that drives them.
Both children were homeschooled. Noah has never even been in a formal classroom. He starts his school day at 5:45 a.m. before spending six to eight hours in the dance studio, and there are no weekends – their homeschool is seven days a week.
Savannah’s goal was to finish high school early and get a contract with Sarasota Ballet’s Second Company, and both of those things happened for her. For Noah, “he always dreamed of going to the Royal Ballet,” says Brian. “Do you remember the movie Billy Elliot? That’s where this boy ends, and when the offer hit the table this week, we decided that was what we would do, too. It is a unique opportunity. “
Noah would potentially graduate at 18 from ballet school, with a bachelor’s degree, and hopefully sign a contract with the London-based company at that time.
For the YAGP contest, Noah performed a variation of Swan Lake and a contemporary piece by a New York choreographer he learned through Zoom. He says he slightly prefers classical dance but also enjoys modern work. He rehearsed both pieces for months before the competition, which started with around 5,000 auditions and ended with around 30 boys in his age group.
Before leaving for London in the fall, Noah participates in an intensive five-week session at the conservatory here. And yes, he firmly intends to have a successful professional dance career. “I really love doing it,” he says.