Madison, Wis. – Overture Center announced the 2016/17 Rising Stars finalists. They performed on the Capitol Theater stage Saturday, September 24, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. William Taylor of Lancaster, Wis., was the grand prize winner for his lyrical dance to “Watch over Us” by The Lone Bellows

“We are so impressed with the talent in our community,” said Tim Sauers, Overture’s VP of Programming and Community Engagement.  “Overture’s Rising Stars has offered professional performance opportunities and training for aspiring and emerging artists.  We’re proud to feature the program’s first dance grand prize winner, 13-year-old William Taylor, who will perform at Overture during the 17-18 season!”

Quotes from judges:

“I have always known that our city is full of talented performers, but to have so many of them sharing the same stage is truly spectacular,” said judge DJ Pain One. “To create the kind of artistic community our city deserves, we need opportunities for growth and networking, and that is what Rising Stars provides. It’s also just a great show.”

“It is a distinct pleasure to participate in a program that fosters the arts, motivates the dreamers and highlights the amazing talents of this great state,” said judge Scott O’Donnell, Circus World’s Executive Director. “A plethora of talent graced the stage during auditions, callbacks and on the main stage at the Capitol Theater. It takes courage to take your talents from singing in the shower to that stage, yet those that participated in this amazing program conquered all fears claiming the spotlight for all to enjoy. Homegrown talent is the best as its folks just like you and I that have passion to perform.”

“I had a wonderful experience with Overture’s Rising Stars competition this year. It was an honor to be invited to judge, and I was blown away by the talent,” said judge Corey Mathew Hart, past Rising Stars grand prize winner. “I was especially impressed with some of the younger performers, for instance Ananya Krishna and William Taylor, who are performing at a level far beyond their years. It was truly inspiring.”

“I love seeing everyone step up their game and performance for this final showing,” said judge Jessica Lanius from Theatre LILA. “It makes our job ridiculously hard because everyone was beautiful and embracing the evening with everything they had!”

Overture’s 2016 Rising Stars:

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: William Taylor, Lancaster: Lyrical Dance to “Watch over Us” by The Lone Bellows

William Taylor, from Lancaster, WI, began dancing and putting on shows in his living room with his sister many years ago. About five years ago, Will joined the newly opened Gotta Dance Academy of Performing Arts, LLC where he was instructed by choreographer, Brandi Dreher. About a month after he started taking lessons, Will told his instructor that his dream was to, one day, become a professional dancer. Since that moment, he has been working diligently toward that goal becoming trained in lyrical, contemporary, clogging, jazz, and acrobatic dance. Will doesn’t walk through life anymore, but dances through it. He has also gained much self-confidence and been given an outlet to express himself through dance. Will is a reigning Regional and two time National Dance Champion through Starquest and Showstoppers Dance Competitions and has had the opportunity to train under professional dancers such as Arielle Elonys, Fik Shun and KC Monnie.  Will is so excited to be the 2016 Overture Center Rising Star Champion and can’t wait to spread his love of dance and performance to the audiences he will see in his future.

“I was so surprised that I won the grand prize with all the other talented acts in the show. It was such an awesome experience to dance at the Capitol Theatre in front of such a large crowd,” said Overture’s 2016 Rising Stars grand prize winner, William Taylor. “When they called my name, it seemed like a dream to me, I could not believe it was really happening. I had so many feeling going through me when he called by name I was crying and laughing all at the same time. I love to dance and this is an experience I will never forget”

ADULT MUSIC WINNERS (TIE): Shlomo Calvo, Madison, “Time to go Slowly” original song; Mark Harrod, Belleville, “Souls” original song

TEEN MUSIC WINNER: Forte Fusion, Mt. Horeb, “Some Nights” by Fun (Group comprised of: Ashlee Schaefer, Brett Fredrickson, Carlye McWilliams, Emily Thielbar, Grace Nelles, Jack Frey, Kobi Johnson, Olivia Elinchev, Sara Thompson, Sydney Cowden)

YOUTH MUSIC WINNER: Ananya Krishna, Verona, “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi

TEEN DANCE WINNER: Blake E. Washington, Madison, Weight in Gold & Lucian Trdnsetter Remix

YOUTH DANCE WINNER: William Taylor, Lancaster, Lyrical Dance to “Watch Over Us” by the Lone Bellows