Michele Wiles has won about 150 dance awards in her young career, but until this month the search had eluded her -- Ed McMahon's "Star Search," that is.
Two weeks ago, the 14-year-old ballerina from Lake Shore Drive traveled to the Disney/MGM studios in Orlando, Fla., to compete in the televised talent show.
"I was very excited," she said. "Ever since I was little I wanted to be on it."
Michele, who started dancing when she was 3, said she auditioned for the show when she was 6 years old but didn't make it.
Since then, she has won so many crowns in regional and national ballet competitions that "we crown the stuffed animals," said her mother, Janet Wiles.
She studied with the Royal Ballet in London in the summer of 1990, then turned down an offer to board at the company's school.
The next summer, she studied with the Joffrey Ballet in New York.
Last year, she toured with the Kirov Ballet, dancing the role of Clara in the "Nutcracker." The tour took her to Mexico City and New Orleans.
She also performed in a Russian television documentary on the life of Oleg Vinegradov, the artistic director and head choreographer for the Kirov.
Michele, a 10th-grader, has been on a full scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington since she was 11.
She studies under Alla Sizova, a former prima ballerina for the Kirov company, and is in the top of her class, academically and artistically.
But it always bothered her that she didn't pass that first audition for "Star Search." In May, she got a second chance.
A "Star Search" recruiter called Dance Explosion, the Glen Burnie studio run by her aunt, Coleen Parker, looking for groups.
Michele's grandmother, Rita Parker, answered the phone and persuaded the recruiter to consider Michele.
"I guess they were thinking 'Another grandmother who thinks her granddaughter's special,' " said Mrs. Wiles, who took her daughter to the audition in Towson.
But Mrs. Wiles said she was more concerned about getting Michele ready for the Teen Miss Dance of America contest in New York in July.
She needn't have worried. Michele beat 71 other girls to win that title.
The "Star Search" producers called, asking for more tapes of her performances. In June, they called to say Michele had made the show.
She performed part of a scene from "Romeo and Juliet" for the "Star Search" audience, but lost to Boys With an Attitude, a group of 9-year-olds who performed a hip-hop dance.
"I didn't care, as long as I got to be on TV," Michele said. "They were cute and the audience liked them a lot."
Larry Wiles, Michele's father, added that the recruiter who auditioned Michele had a background in dance, the judges on the show did not.
"It doesn't make or break her in any way," he said. "She'll get national exposure and you never know who'll be watching. I'm real proud of her. She's done real well."
The show will air Jan. 17 and again July 4.
While Michele says she is hoping something will come out of her "Star Search" performance, she also says she wants to go to college to become a doctor or a lawyer.
Then, again, she adds, "I want to dance for the rest of my life."