By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A master choreographer will teach a master class with talented students chosen to participate in YoungArts Week, a program founded by Ted and Lin Arison back in 1981.

“In our 33rd year we have 171 of the best young artists who are in great company with 17,000 alumni that include Josh Groben, Nicky Minaj, Kerry Washington and  on and on,” said Paul Lehr,  President, CEO of YoungArts

The National YoungArts Foundation chose 171 finalists made up of 15 to 18-year-old students from 46-states to attend the YoungArts Week of workshops, performances and events. All the students have shown outstanding talent in either literary performing, visual and design art fields.

“They get master classes, workshops as well as opportunities to work with such experts like Debbie Allen and others so they see that they get confidence from them to know they are next generation of true artists,” Lehr added.

Actress, choreographer and director Debbie Allen, who was teaching Gospel dance during CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo’s visit, said she’s here with one goal in mind.

“I’m happy to come and beat them up!” Allen said jokingly.   “That’s what I’m here to do. They think they’ve got it and I’m going to give them a little challenge. These days the language of dance is comprehensive. You can’t just be a ballerina or a modern dancer. You have to do it all.”

Jay Jackson was a YoungArts finalist in 2007 for choreography. He said this event opened up a world of opportunity for him. He added the program will do the same for these kids.

“I think Debbie Allen is an inspiration for any dancer, especially for someone like me who grew up in musical theater. You can only get opportunities like that here at YoungArts” said Jackson.

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