About the Author:
Youth America Grand Prix - New York Finals
|Round 3 - Top Finalists for Junior (ages 12-14)|
and Senior (ages 15-19) Categories
|Martin Luther King HS Auditorium|
65th St and Amsterdam Ave., NYC, NY
|Gennadi Saveliev and Larissa Saveliev, Founders and Artistic Directors|
Boris Shapiro, General Manager
Sergey Gordeev, Public Relations and Copywriting
|Teachers and Judges: Claude Bessy, Mucuy Bolles, Oleg Briansky, Giuseppe Canale, Eleanor D'Antuono, Melissa Hayden, Deborah Hess, Denise Jefferson, Raymond Lukens, Tadeusz Matacz, John Meehan, Cleo Parker Robinson, Carlos dos Santos, Jr., Gailene Stock, Diana White, Shamil Yagudin|
Grand Prix Award (Seniors) (Contract to ABT Studio Company)
Youth Grand Prix Award
Pre-Competitive Awards (ages 9-11)
Outstanding Contemporary Dancer
Grishko Model Search
By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 27, 2003
On a warm spring evening in New York, in a warm, musty auditorium, with a dark row of prestigious judges from the international dance arena, in Act I of the New York Finals of the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition, about 20 young dancers in the Junior Division, some dancing to the same or similar music, some in classical motif, and some in contemporary motif, performed onstage with pride and presence, before parents, judges, teachers, press, and a general audience of dance enthusiasts. With tutus and tambourines, pointe shoes and ballet slippers, tiaras and rosebuds, these slender and cherubic dancers, from Iowa to the Ukraine, and New Jersey to Japan, had the look of total confidence and confection, as they pranced and pirouetted, pivoted and leaped, with perfect timing and tenderness.
Some of the Junior Category dancers, such as Katherine Williams, age 14, from the Ballet Royale Institute, Maryland, in a pale, tangerine, chiffon costume, dancing the Grand Pas, from Sleeping Beauty, was angelic as she fell into the evocative mood of the recorded cello and piano passages. Christine Shevchenko, age 14, from the Rock School of PA Ballet, danced the Paquita, choreographed by Petipa, with a fan and fantastic technical skills, as she achieved extensive elevation and excellent elongation. Jennifer Stahl, age 14, of the Classical Ballet Academy, CA, danced La Esmeralda, choreographed by Petipa, with extreme coyness, as she attempted to mesmerize the audience and judges with her tambourine dance. In fact, this particular dance seemed to be a signature event throughout the Finals and Gala, with the tambourine slapped against the elbows and knees, and the toe shoes kicked above the head to reach the fanciful instrument. Anais Bueno, age 14, from Fomento Artistico Cordobes, Mexico, danced a passage from Don Quixote, choreographed by Martha Sahagun, after Petipa, in which she swept away a toy mouse, while dancing in a maid costume, and used tremendously adorable theatrical skills to create this campy motif.
After a break, Act II of the New York YAGP Finals began with about 26 male and female dancers from the Senior Category. These teenage dancers performed in competition, in a most amazingly professional manner, with bravura and energy, beads and feathers, dissonance and melodies, courtliness and coquettishness, en pointe and barefoot. Ian Lindeman, age 15, from Universal Ballet Company, Washington, DC, led Act II with a muscular, spring-like style, of confident leaps and spins, to the score of Coppélia, choreographed by St. Leon. Shane Weurthner, age 15, also from Universal, danced in contemporary style to one of my favorite scores by Piazzolla, played by Gidon Kremer on violin. Jade Payette, age 15, from Southland Ballet Academy, California, costumed in silver, danced a solo from Le Corsaire, by Petipa, en pointe, seemingly endlessly, all smiles and poise. Ami Sakachi, age 18, from Soda Ballet School, Japan, was the final La Esmeralda, choreographed by Petipa, costumed in gray and white, and full of bravura and technically perfect kicks and turns. Joseph Gatti, age 18, of Orlando Ballet School, Florida, a finals winner to be announced, was miraculously skilled and charismatic, as he presented Flames of Paris, choreographed by Vainonen.
Arlene Minkhorst, Associate School Director of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, told me that, "The primary goal of any ballet school is to look for a talent you can train. I'm looking for students, who can benefit from our training. The school and company have a special relationship. Most of our corps comes from the school. A lot of students filled out forms. We have 26 scholarships available for the 4 week summer session."
Parents and students, teachers and visitors, were all amazed and proud to have witnessed such perfection and power from student dancers, all of whom show promise and purpose, as they created an aesthetic smorgasbord of dance, for all to devour. I look forward to the next series of Youth America Grand Prix Finals, 2004. Kudos to the dancers, judges, and to Gennadi and Larissa Saveliev, as well as Sergey Gordeev, who succeeded in organizing such a complex, artistic event.
More YAGP 2003.