After two years of virtual programming, The Music Center proudly presented the 34th Annual Spotlight Grand Finale live on June 15, 2022 (PT) co-hosted by Tiler Peck, principal dancer of New York City Ballet, and actor Rhenzy Feliz, an alumnus of The Music Center’s Spotlight program in 2016, competing as a finalist in the acting category. The performance featured 14 talented Southern California teenagers selected after a rigorous audition process that included over 1,300 applicants. The nationally acclaimed performing arts competition, scholarship and artistic development program includes more than $100,000 in cash awards distributed through three rounds of auditions.

Tiler Peck - Courtesy of TMC

Tiler Peck – Courtesy of TMC

“As a Southern California native, I have a special place in my heart for The Music Center, and I am thrilled to return to this Los Angeles cultural anchor as the host of this year’s Spotlight Grand Finale,” said Peck. “I cannot wait to introduce some of Southern California’s best and brightest young performers to audiences who join us for this incredible celebration of their talents and their journey. Be prepared to be wowed by the next generation of entertainers!”

“I have so many awesome memories of auditioning and being selected as one of the Grand Prize finalists of The Music Center’s Spotlight. With the one-on-one mentoring I received throughout the nearly year-long process, I had the tools, guidance and confidence to become the best actor I can be—and to keep following my dreams,” said Feliz. “Every young person we will see perform at this year’s Grand Finale are talented and earned their chance in the spotlight. Congratulations to all of them!”

Rhenzy Feliz - Photo by David Buchan for TMC

Rhenzy Feliz – Photo by David Buchan for TMC

“Given Tiler’s passion for dance, Rhenzy’s intimate connection to our Spotlight program and their dedication to young artists, we knew these two would be perfect as co-hosts of this year’s Spotlight Grand Finale. Tiler knows first-hand the excitement and the magic of performing on stage before a live audience and, as one of the nation’s premier ballerinas, she will be an inspiration to our 14 finalists—and to young performers worldwide for that matter—who dream of being in her shoes one day,” added Jeri Gaile, Fredric Roberts Director, Spotlight program. “And having Rhenzy return to The Music Center for this special evening will be a treat! When he auditioned for Spotlight six years ago, we knew he had a gift. We are very proud of his accomplishments, and we are thrilled to have him as co-host. This year’s Grand Finale will be a night to remember!”

The 14 Spotlight Grand Prize winners included two finalists in each of seven categories: acting, ballet, dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental. In addition to performing in the finale, each student will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

Michael Davis Lauren Mei Sophia Koo Justin Padilla Dyllan Blackburn Tegan Chou Oscar Yum Lia Zheng(1) Bella Aboulhosn Elias Robles Evan Dexter Sophia Papouchado
Sophia Papouchado - Courtesy of TMC

Congratulations to these talented young artists!

Acting: Michael Davis, 18, a senior at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (Chula Vista), and Lauren Mei, 16, a junior at Orange County School of the Arts – OCSA (Irvine)

Ballet: Sophia Koo, 14, a freshman at Arnold O. Beckman High School and Tustin Connect (Irvine), and Justin Padilla, 15, a home-schooled sophomore (Lake Forest)

Dance: Dyllan Blackburn, 15, a sophomore at Canyon High School (Anaheim), and Tegan Chou, 15, a sophomore at ASU Prep Digital (Tustin)

Classical Voice: Oscar Yum, 17, a junior at Flintridge Prep (Altadena), and Lia Zheng, 17, a junior at Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego)

Non-Classical Voice: Bella Aboulhosn, 17, a junior at Chaminade College Preparatory School – Canoga Park (Los Angeles), and Elias Robles, 17, a senior at Los Altos High School (Hacienda Heights)

Classical Instrumental: Andrew Shi, 17, piano, a senior at Diamond Bar High School (Walnut), and Ashley Tsai, 16, violin, a senior at Colburn Music Academy (Los Angeles)

Jazz Instrumental: Evan Dexter, 16, trombone, a junior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), (Chatsworth), and Sophia Papouchado, 17, drums, a junior at Vistamar School (Manhattan Beach)

2022 Spotlight Award Winners - Courtesy of TMC

2022 Spotlight Award Winners – Courtesy of TMC


In addition to the Grand Prize Finalists, The Music Center also named an Honorable Mention in each category, awarding each student a $1,000 scholarship. The Honorable Mentions include: Acting: Lulu Royce, 17, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (Los Angeles); Ballet: Ashley Chung, 17, Cypress High School (Cypress); Dance: Dakota Faunteroy, 17, Calabasas High School (Calabasas); Classical Voice: Victoria Curet, 15, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (San Diego); Non-Classical Voice: Lulu Royce, 17, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (Los Angeles); Classical Instrumental: Hwaseop Jeong (clarinet), 17, Colburn Music Academy (Los Angeles); and Jazz Instrumental: William Schwartzman (piano), 17, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (Santa Monica). The Music Center’s Spotlight program awards more than $100,000 in cash scholarships annually.


To read more about The Spotlight Awards, please visit their website.

To learn more about The Music Center, please visit their website.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle from The Music Center press release by Gil Diaz.

Featured image: 2022 Spotlight Award Winners – Courtesy of TMC