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Youth America Grand Prix NY Finals 2019 at Koch Theater

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Youth America Grand Prix Finals 2019
20th Anniversary Season

New York Finals: 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 17, 2019

Click Here to see a full list of winners of the 2019 YAGP competition.

The annual Youth America Grand Prix New York Finals competition draws thousands 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 12,000 students auditioned in cities around the globe, as well as in 20 American cities. Only 1500 students were invited to the New York finals. Tonight was the final round, after eliminations. Those who win, and many more, will be awarded scholarships to the world’s top dance schools and contracts to renowned dance companies. According to the YAGP website, “Nearly $500,000 in scholarships are presented annually, and over the past 20 years nearly $4 million has been awarded at YAGP in scholarships to leading dance schools and companies around the world”. There were too many student performance highlights to mention or fully list. Some recorded music is heard over and over, as students have learned a variety of male and female solos for this competition.

Among the Junior Women, numerous dancers caught my eye tonight, especially Elise Cho, 12, dancing as Aurora, “Sleeping Beauty”, from Southland Ballet Academy, CA, Ayako Tsukada, 12, dancing a solo from “Don Quixote”, from Wakui Ballet School, Japan, Allison Whitely, 13, dancing as Kitri, “Don Quixote”, from The Dallas Conservatory, TX, and Natalia Chersia, 14, dancing a solo from “La Esmeralda”, from Master Ballet Academy, AZ.

Among the Junior Men, a smaller contingent than Junior Women, highlights included Carson Willey, 12, dancing a solo from “Harlequinade”, from Alliance Academy of Dance, ID, João Pedro Freitas, 13, dancing a solo from “Flames of Paris”, from Ent’Artes – Escola de Dança, Portugal, Misha Broderick, 13, dancing a solo from “Diana and Acteon, from Master Ballet Academy, AZ, and Seungmin Lee, 14, dancing a solo from “Le Corsaire”, from Sunhwa Arts Middle School, South Korea.

Among Senior Women, all very talented and poised, it was very difficult to choose, but I was especially impressed with Brooke Noska, 15, dancing a solo from “Walpurgis Nacht”, from Hudson Conservatory of Ballet, OH, Basia Rhoden, 16, dancing a solo from La Esmeralda, from Master Ballet Academy, AZ, Arianna Crosato Neumann, 16, dancing a solo from “Coppelia”, from Danzaira Escuela Profesional De Ballet, Peru, and Min Young Kim, 18, dancing a solo from “Grand Pas Classique”, from Korea National University of Art, South Korea.

Among the Senior Men, virtuosic athleticism was enthusiastically featured, with enormous audience fervor. I was especially impressed with Francisco Gomes, 15, dancing a solo from “La Esmeralda”, from Academia Annarella, Portugal, Juan Valdez Ramerez, 16, dancing as Franz in “Coppelia”, from Kansas School of Classical Ballet, KS, Harold Mendez, 17, dancing a solo from “Diana and Acteon”, from The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Cuba, and Gabriel Figueredo, 18, dancing a solo from “Raymonda, from John Cranko School, Germany.

Kudos to all of tonight’s Finals competitors, kudos to the teachers and judges, and kudos to YAGP.

Moyu Yoshimura (14)
YAGP by VAM Productions

Natalia Chersia (14)
YAGP by VAM Productions

Joao Vitor Santana (15)
YAGP by VAM Productions

Xu WenSheng (16)
YAGP by VAM Productions

Yazmin Verhage (16)
YAGP by VAM Productions

Joao Gomes (17)
YAGP by VAM Productions

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