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"15th Anniversary Closing Night Celebration", Youth America Grand Prix 2014, at David H. Koch Theater
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"15th Anniversary Closing Night Celebration", Youth America Grand Prix 2014, at David H. Koch Theater

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15th Anniversary
Closing Night Celebration
Youth America Grand Prix 2014

David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Larissa Saveliev: Founder and Artistic Director
Gennadi Saveliev: Founder and President

Featuring Renowned Guest Artists
Student Participants of YAGP
Scholarship Competition for Students

Press: Jonathan Marder and Company, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 11. 2014

For its Fifteenth Anniversary, Youth America Grand Prix actually mounted an entirely second Gala, with one or two repeats from last night. They even brought out more student winners from the global dance competition. The program once again began with a Juilliard classical music student, this time on piano. Nadia Azzi performed Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” with dizzying speed and mastery beyond her years. Representing YAGP participants, Juliet Dougherty, 16, of the USA, performed the Variation from Grand Pas Classique, David Fernando Najarro Yudes, 17, of Monaco, performed a Variation from Don Quixote, and students from the Rock School in the USA performed Noir et Blanc, choreographed by Justin Allen. With stiff, black tutus and rock music pulse, the strongly muscular, Rock School piece highlighted the talent of this Philadelphia based dance academy. The audience, filled with YAGP participants, preparing to finally return home after their lengthy New York competition, plus teachers, parents, and fans, was vocally ebullient.

Tonight’s star-studded performances began with Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino of Bavarian State Ballet, as they presented a dignified ballet, Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes, music by Rachmaninoff. Maria Kotchetkova of San Francisco Ballet and Joaquin De Luz of New York City Ballet performed the poignant and emotional, World Premiere, Kübler Ross, choreographed by Andrea Schermoly, music by Vivaldi, complete with projections, involving mourning and grief. Olga Smirnova, of The Bolshoi, and Evan McKie, of The Stuttgart and National Ballet of Canada, introduced another World Premiere, Wiegenlied Pas de Deux, by Mr. McKie, music by Strauss. This was a light work, interesting, not riveting.

Next, in a more spritely vein, Ashley Bouder of City Ballet and Semyon Chudin, of The Bolshoi, danced Bournonville’s Pas de Deux from La Sylphide, music by Lovenskiold. It was a stylized, although not very connected, rendition. Then, Beckanne Sisk, of Ballet West, and Fabrice Calmels, of Joffrey Ballet, kicked the evening up ten notches with Arpino’s Light Rain, music by Adamz and Gauthier. I’ve seen this work before, and it’s always enthralling. The final, pre-intermission piece, a repeat from last night, was the mismatched duo, Linda Celeste Sims, of the Ailey Company, and Daniil Simkin, of ABT, in Ailey’s Pas de Duke, music by Ellington. Even more, tonight Mr. Simkin looked like a teen, next to the mature, modern dance dynamo, Ms. Sims, who upstaged him at each turn. Alicia Graf Mack, originally cast in the piece, would have been a more appropriate partner.

After intermission, Jared Angle, Taylor Stanley, and Daniel Ulbricht of City Ballet, along with James Whiteside of ABT, accompanied by Susan Walters on piano, appeared in a New York Premiere, Justin Peck’s Distractions, music by Alexander Rosenblatt. Like all of Mr. Peck’s abstract, syncopated works, this ballet had verve and vivacity, lyricism and life. It was brief, perfect for this Gala program. Rebecca Rasmussen and Steven Ezra, of MOMIX, gave us a second night of Moses Pendleton’s mastery (also choreographed here by Yim Acito and Solveig Olsen), with TUU, music by TUU. Unlike Millennium Skiva, seen last night, TUU, involved intertwining, spider-shaped athleticism. It featured MOMIX’s requisite, acrobatic feats and the expected, hefty accolades. Evan McKie, of The Stuttgart, followed with a solo, New York Premiere, Marco Goecke’s On Velvet, music by Elgar, which was, unfortunately, borderline cartoonish. Lauren Lovette of City Ballet was then paired with Herman Cornejo of ABT for Balanchine’s Pas de Deux from Rubies, music by Stravinsky, which is regularly seen on this very stage. Mr. Cornejo was in fine form and supported Ms. Lovette in this high level debut.

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin, of The Bolshoi, then partnered for Balanchine’s Pas de Deux from Diamonds, music by Tchaikovsky, from Jewels, as was Rubies. These Bolshoi dancers were well-matched and seasoned in partnering, as they brought out the sumptuous sophistication of this work. The “wow” factor was finally evident in Brooklyn Mack’s (The Washington Ballet) Gopak, by Zakharov, music by Solovyov-Sedoi. He introduced his solo with humility, as he was coached by YAGP’s Co-Founder, Gennadi Saveliev, the Gopak maestro extraordinaire. Mr. Mack then brought down the house with his hormonal lunges and rapid leaping, in gravity-defying backbends. Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino, of Bavarian State Ballet, returned for Russell Maliphant’s Two Times Two, music by Andy Cowton. By this time in the endless program, third night in, only propulsive, virtuosic feats could grip the eye. That feat was the Pas de Trois from Petipa’s Le Corsaire, music by Drigo. Brooklyn Mack (The Washington Ballet) returned with Iana Salenko (Berlin State Ballet) and Joseph Gatti (Principal Guest Artist), for all the feverish fouettés, lightning leaps, and dizzying dervish that this Pas de Trois commands. Kudos to all, and kudos to Youth America Grand Prix on its Fifteenth Anniversary.

Lauren Lovette and Herman Cornejo
in Pas de Deux from "Rubies"
Courtesy of Siggul/Visual Arts Masters

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin
in Pas de Deux from "Diamonds"
Courtesy of Siggul/Visual Arts Masters

Brooklyn Mack
in "Gopak"
Courtesy of Siggul/Visual Arts Masters

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