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Youth America Grand Prix
New York Finals 2012: The Final Round

Round 3 – Top Finalists for Junior (ages 12-14)
and Senior (ages 15-19) Categories

David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Larissa Saveliev: Founder and Artistic Directors
Gennadi Saveliev: President and Founder
Press: Jonathan Marder + Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 26, 2012

One of my favorite special events in ballet is the Final Round of Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). This year, as always, 5,000 young dancers audition around the world in semi-final rounds. The New York City Finals present the 300 dancers chosen in those auditions. And, the night that receives the most buzz is the final night of YAGP, with the final 60 of 300 competing repetitively, as the audience watches soloists interpret and perform many of the same ballet segments, with the judges making decisions for winners, some of whom will re-appear in the YAGP Gala the following night.

The Awards are given to the highest rated among women and men in Senior Division (ages 15-19), Junior Division (ages 12-14), and Pre-Competitive Division (ages 9-11). Special Awards go to Outstanding School, Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Choreographer, and so on. The Scholarships are valued in total at over $250,000. Among the many judges, teachers, and scholarship presenters, I noticed Franco De Vita, Director of ABT JKO School, Raymond Lukens, Artistic Associate, ABT/NYU – Master’s Degree Program, Elisabeth Platel, Director, Paris Opera Ballet School, Alexei Kremnev, Joffrey Ballet’s Academy of Dance, and Stanton Welch, Artistic Director, Houston Ballet.

Tonight’s Final Round brought out the Junior Women individually, each performing a Variation of a renowned ballet, including “Coppélia”, “Paquita”, “Don Quixote”, “Harlequinade”, “Walpurgis Nacht”, “La Fille Mal Garde”, “Satanella”, “Diana and Acteon”, “La Bayadère”, “La Esmeralda”, “Giselle”, and “Le Corsaire”. Dancers represented Brazil, USA, Japan, Republic of Korea, Portugal, Australia, and France. Each young 12-14 year-old dancer was poised, eager, and bubbling with enthusiasm. The audience at the Finals is always passionately vocal. The Senior Women, ages 15-19, danced some of the above Variations, plus those from “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Grand Pas Classique”, and “Raymonda”. It’s fascinating to see dancers add confident embellishments in the older category, while the younger performers seem so un-seasoned, so risk-taking. In the Senior Category, there were dancers also from People’s Republic of China.

The Junior Men, 12-14, added Italy and Switzerland to the global list, and they danced the male solos from many of the above ballets, all of which appear in standard full-length ballet repertory. One dancer, from Brazil, danced a different solo, from the “Nutcracker”, perhaps the best known, full-length repertory ballet. The Senior Men added Germany to the list, as well as solo ballet Variations, including “La Sylphide”, “Flames of Paris”, and “Flower Festival at Genzano”. All of tonight’s Variations were from classical ballet, and it would be impossible to choose favorite dancers. The courage of these students is breathtaking. They danced with a spring in their step and wide smiles all around. Kudos to YAGP.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at