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Youth America Grand Prix 2015: The Final Round, at the David H. Koch Theater
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Youth America Grand Prix 2015: The Final Round, at the David H. Koch Theater

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Youth America Grand Prix
New York Finals 2015: The Final Round

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

David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Larissa Saveliev: Artistic Director and Founder
Gennadi Saveliev: President and Founder
Press: Jonathan Marder and Company, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 15, 2015

The annual Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition draws many hundreds from the international ballet community, including student competitors, teachers, family, sponsors, and ballet aficionados from New York and well beyond. The final round of competition is held at Koch Theater, with screaming student fans in the upper tiers. Seemingly hundreds of floral bouquets can be seen in the audience, with parents, as well as students, already disqualified from the finals, showing up for support. The spirit and soul of this and the following night’s Gala are ebullient. First we see Junior Women, then Junior Men (ages 12-14), followed by Senior Women, then Senior Men (ages 15-19). Some of these students are already in dance ensembles and receiving school tutoring, while others are in junior or senior high school, practicing and studying dance every other moment. Preparation for dance competition requires dedicating many hours/day to focused and grueling exercises and barre work, plus performance rehearsals.

Over 7,000 students begin the semi-finals rounds in Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Mexico, Japan, and 15 American cities. Only 350 students are invited to the New York finals. Those who win, and many more, will be awarded scholarships to the world’s top dance schools and contracts to renowned dance companies. There were too many student performance highlights to mention or list all. Some recorded music is heard over and over, as students have learned a variety of male and female solos for this competition. Numerous dancers caught my eye tonight, including Kotomi Yamada, 12, from Yamada Chie Sunny Ballet School, Japan. She danced Vaganova’s Variation from Diana and Acteon with youthful verve and vivacity. Also, Shin-Yong Kim, 14, from Sunhwa Arts Middle/High School, Korea, danced Petipa’s Variation from La Esmeralda with unique skill and charisma. Both of these Variations were exceptionally challenging and only performed a few times during the evening.

Junior Men, who caught my eye, were Liam Boswell, 14, from Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory, USA, who danced Vainonen’s Variation from Flames of Paris, and Ryu Bautista, 14, from The McDonald College of Performing Arts, Australia, who danced Petipa’s Variation from La Bayadčre. Both of these young men brought enthused shouts from the energized crowd. Among Senior Women, I was impressed with Madeline Woo, 16, from V&T Dance, USA, who performed Petipa’s Variation from Don Quixote, and, among the Senior Men, I was impressed with Lang Ma, 19, from The Washington School of Ballet, USA, who performed Gsovsky’s Variation from Grand Pas Classique. Both Ms. Woo and Mr. Ma had astounding speed and balance. Click Here to see a full list of winners of the YAGP competition. Kudos to all of tonight’s Finals competitors, kudos to the teachers and judges, and kudos to YAGP.

Kotomi Yamada, 12, Japan
Variation from "Diana and Acteon"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM

Shin-Yong Kim, 14, Korea
Variation from "La Esmeralda"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM

Liam Boswell, 14, USA
Variation from "Flames of Paris"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM

Ryu Bautista, 14, Australia
Variation from "La Bayadere"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM

Lang Ma, 19, USA
Variation from "Grand Pas Classique"
Courtesy of Siggul/VAM

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