Performers from the U.S. and abroad have descended upon the Hilton
Burbank Airport and Convention Center to compete in the seventh
annual senior World Championships of Performing Arts.
The weeklong competition, which begins today, will feature
contestants from 34 countries competing in the following categories:
acting, bands, comedy, dance, instrumentalists, modeling, variety
arts and vocals. Participants 16 and older auditioned for the right
to compete, except in South Africa, where they competed in a national
championship. A separate junior competition for contestants 15 and
younger was held earlier this year.
The winner in each category will compete for $5,000, a gold medal
and a trophy.
The world championships have been dubbed “the Olympics for the
Performing Arts,” said Griff O’Neil, president of the organization.
“The one thing we try to impress, like the Olympics, is that we
are simply a competition,” O’Neil said. “We are not agents, we are
not managers and we are not casting directors.”
For 25 years, O’Neil worked on event productions, including the
Miss Universe pageant. Traveling throughout the world, O’Neil said he
noticed great raw talent that abounded everywhere, and decided that
just as the Olympics spotlights great athletes, he would spotlight
“We try to have the best of the best coming from countries,”
O’Neil said. “Some are amateurs, some are professionals, just like
Opening night ceremonies will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and will be
emceed by Chelsea Brummet, 15, a 1999 winner in the junior acting
category. Following her win, she landed a starring role in the
Nickelodeon series, “All That,” O’Neil said.
The competition, formerly staged in Hollywood, moved to Burbank in
2000, where local support “has been tremendous,” he said.