If life is a stage, then these kids have been living it up.
With a big stage set in the middle of the Tucson Mall last Saturday, 30 school-age children, ages 3-18, paid a $15 entry fee to showcase their talent in the first-ever "These Kids Got Talent" show at the center court area of the mall.
The show was hosted by KU Studios, home of Kids Unlimited, with first, second, and third places in each of the age categories - 3-7 years, 8-13 years and 14-18 years old.
A grand-prize winner received $200 as well, according to Carol Sottosanti, director and vocal instructor for KU Studios, 6066 N. Oracle Road.
"In partnership with the mall, we thought it would be fun rather than just our group performing, which we do all the time at nursing homes, etc. We decided to open it up to the community and see if we could invite some kids who might not have the opportunity to share the stage and we gathered some prizes for them," Sottosanti said. Each participant received a Kids Unlimited stuffed bear.
"We have singers, dancers, we have a little boy who is acting, that type of variety. This is our first year doing this, and I know it will be a yearly event."
The audience, made up mostly of shoppers watching from the ground floor, second floor and escalators, clapped to a performance of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke."
Kadence Alexander, 7, dressed in a World War II outfit, saluted the audience as she finished her rendition of "God Bless America."
"I was thinking that I should just concentrate and have fun," said a relieved Kadence. "I really like dancing and I've been dancing for a while," she added with a smile.
"We believe that children can do everything," Sottosanti said between acts. "It's nice for them to get the opportunity to do this and it's a good way for parents who pay for a lot of lessons to also see the practical application of what their kids are learning. We know how much the stage helps the kids."
If the stage was to help children display their individualism as well as highlight their skills, it was a big success for dancer Kali Schmeltzer, 11, as she danced everywhere but on the small stage.
"It was fun because I got to go out there and perform in front of everybody and they got to see how good I am," she said.
Find out more
Go to www.kustars.com to learn more about the dance groups.
Contact photographer David Sanders at 573-4155 or firstname.lastname@example.org