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Youth America Grand Prix Gala 2012: Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow
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Youth America Grand Prix Gala 2012: Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

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Youth America Grand Prix Gala 2012
Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Larissa Saveliev: Founder and Artistic Director
Gennadi Saveliev: Founder and President
Hosted by Ana Gasteyer and Brian d’Arcy James

Featuring Renowned Guest Artists
Winners of YAGP Ballet and Contemporary Dance
Scholarship Competition for Students
(See YAGP 2012 Winners)
Press: Jonathan Marder + Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 27, 2012

• Yonah Acosta - (English National Ballet)
• Alicia Amatriain (Stuttgart Ballet)
• Islom Baimuradov (The Mariinsky Ballet)
• Jiří Bubenĺček (Featured Choreographer, Dresden Semperoper Ballet)
• Otto Bubenĺček (The Hamburg Ballet)
• Misty Copeland (American Ballet Theatre)
• Herman Cornejo (American Ballet Theatre)
• Robert Fairchild (New York City Ballet)
• Yolanda Correa Frias (Norwegian National Ballet)
• Marcelo Gomes (Featured Choreographer, American Ballet Theatre)
• Alexandre Hammoudi (American Ballet Theatre)
• Ekaterina Kondaurova (The Mariinsky Ballet)
• Maria Jeffers (Musician)
• Karen LeFrak (Composer)
• Simon Mulligan (Musician)
• Justin Peck (Emerging Choreographer, New York City Ballet)
• Sergei Polunin (The Royal Ballet)
• Vassily Primakov (Musician)
• Teresa Reichlen (New York City Ballet)
• Tamara Rojo (The Royal Ballet)
• Brooke Quiggins Saulnier (Musician)
• Miranda Sielaff (Musician)
• Jon Vallejo (Dresden Ballet)
• Friedemann Vogel (Stuttgart Ballet)
• Charles Yang (Musician)
• Elizabeth Young (Musician)

Last night I reviewed the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Final Round, and some of the winners of that Final danced tonight in the Stars of Tomorrow half of the program. It’s always heartening to hear the hoots and whoops from hundreds of student dancers in the balcony, cheering on those against whom they had competed, as YAGP takes a team approach with emotional support from all, not to mention over $250,000 in scholarships awarded. The list above refers to the Stars of Today, ballerinas and premier danseurs from around the globe, plus tonight’s musicians, but the Stars of Tomorrow were equally as exciting to experience, with a freshness in their style, an un-seasoned sense of risk and youthful bravura.

Hosts for tonight’s Gala were Brian d’Arcy James (Shrek) and Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live), who kept the momentum seamless, joking between themselves. This morning the judges chose the 2012 finalists to perform tonight, in ensembles and solos, and they danced repeat Variations from classical ballet that had been presented last night in the Final Round. Plus, ballet schools performed as ensembles. Two students from a Mexican Ballet Academy hopped and jumped about the stage in Croak, wearing spring petal colors as little frogs, and the audience was immediately warmed. In addition, the Next Generation Youth Ballet at Patel Conservatory danced Shostakovich Suite, choreographed by Richard Cook. Peter Stark staged the work. These youths performed fouettés with fervor.

One soloist, a Korean student, a 2012 Grand Prix Winner from the Senior Category, wowed the crowd in a Don Quixote Variation with astounding leaps and spins. Finally, numerous YAGP finalists appeared in the annual Grand Defile, choreographed, as always, by Carlos dos Santos, Jr., this time to Tchaikovsky. It was thrilling to see so many youthful performers intertwining in synchronized perfection, much like the Busby Berkeley choreography of mid-20th century, only without kaleidoscopic effects.

In Stars of Today, the rising choreographer, New York City Ballet dancer, Justin Peck, choreographed Furiant, to Dvorak’s “Piano Quintet No. 2”. Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild, City Ballet principals, were onstage, accompanied by a live string quartet and piano. Mr. Peck is a stunning dancer, and his choreography follows his sense of classicism and refinement. Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Reichlen are two of the most fascinating principals who show their emotions fully, and they were well cast in this sinewy, sultry work. Mr. Peck was supported here by the Emerging Choreographers Series. Next, Tamara Rojo, of the Royal Ballet, performed Life is a Dream, choreographed by Fei Bo. This work utilized a prop, like a fishbowl, to atonal, surreal music. It was interesting, hypnotic, gripping.

Herman Cornejo, who can eat the stage with his compact, taut muscularity, designed his own Tango, called Tango y Yo, a solo to Piazzolla’s intoxicating music. Mr. Cornejo shared his Argentinean heritage with his fans, and they loved it. When Yolanda Correa Frias was joined by Yonah Acosta for the Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire, the audience, and especially the balcony, went wild. This is a propulsive ballet with numerous “tour de forces”, and I longed to see Mr. Acosta again soon, very soon. He’s a rising star fully formed. Ms. Frias swung her legs rapidly in dizzying fouettés, the requisite 32.

A high point of this Gala was Marcelo Gomes’ (an ABT principal, reviewed frequently on this column) own choreography, Toccare. He brought in two ABT dancers, soloist, Misty Copeland, and corps dancer, Alexandre Hammoudi. There were media images depicting the performers in close-up, and, in Toccare, I believe Mr. Gomes has come of age as a choreographer, combining past compositional experiences with his dance persona. The score, Grand Jeté on a Violin, by Ian Ng, was performed live on violin and piano by Charles Yang and Dmitri Dover. Jade Young created the mesmerizing images, that included fragmented, magnified views of the dancers’ bodies. Ms. Copeland is a captivating performer, and she now deserves center stage while she is so youthfully exuberant. It was thrilling to see her showcased here, and Mr. Hammoudi is another rising star on the ballet scene, with stage presence and gravitas.

The Romeo and Juliet Pas de Deux, also known as the balcony scene, was another
“tour de force” performance, stylistically, performed by Alicia Amatriain and Friedemann Vogel, both of the Stuttgart Ballet. I say stylistically, because I longed for more chemistry, more depth of character. Yet, John Cranko’s choreography filled the stage with romantic lifts and elegant embraces, and the Prokofiev score is always riveting. Gentle Memories was a World Premiere by Jiri Bubenĺček to a score by Karen LeFrak. Dancers included Ekaterina Kondaurova, Islom Baimuradov, Otto Bubenĺček, and Jon Vallejo, with live piano by Simon Mulligan. Ms. Kondaurova is an enchanting, exciting performer, and, here, with three male partners, she was even more in the spotlight. Adding the pianist as a fourth male in the mix, this ballet kept the audience’s attention, after a very long evening was about to close.

The final work of this Gala, the Pas de Deux from Diana and Acteon, featuring Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin, brought back Ms. Rojo, this time with the final set of 32 fouettés. Although Ms. Rojo was more compelling than her partner, Vaganova’s Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux is always a show-stopper. I’d love to see this full ballet, which I just discovered is in the ABT repertory since 1973, choreographed by Nureyev after Vaganova. What a buzz that would create. Tomorrow is YAGP’s Gala tribute to Natalia Makarova. Kudos to YAGP, and kudos to tonight’s performers, those of Tomorrow and those of Today.

Dancers from Haydee Barron Academia de Danza
in Croak
Courtesy of Liza Voll

Misty Copeland in Toccare
Courtesy of Liza Voll

Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin
in Diana and Acteon
Courtesy of Liza Voll

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