The Stars Align at Youth America Grand Prix

American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland and Alexandre Hammoudi in the world premiere of Toccare choreographed by Marcelo Gomes (Liza Voll Photography)

Friday’s Youth America Grand Prix Gala “The Stars of Today Meet The Stars of Tomorrow” was one jam-packed night of ballet. The sheer number of ballet greats inside the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center was enough to leave me completely star struck. Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo, Matthew Golding, Sergei Polunin, Teresa Reichlen, Tamara Rojo and so many more made appearances on stage. Not to mention the stars in the audience. I sat next to Daniel Ulbricht and directly behind Sascha Radetsky (swoon!).

While the second act was dedicated to these well-known “Stars of Today,” the first act was all about the “Stars of Tomorrow.” The young dancers chosen represented the best overall performances at the YAGP competition this year, and they only found out Friday morning that they were chosen by the judges to perform Friday night!

Geraldin Getzemani Chico Valerio (9) and Salvador David Perez Enciso (8) from Mexico, the tiniest of the dancers, opened the show with the cutest frog pas de deux ever, CROACK by Martha Sahagun. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the audience was smiling the entire time.

Geraldin Getzemani Chico Valerio and Salvador David Perez Enciso in CROACK, choreographed by Martha Sahagun (Liza Voll Photography)

Juliet Doherty (Liza Voll Photography)

As the other winners performed, moving up in age to the senior dancers, it was very clear that these students will one day be dancing with the top ballet companies in the world. They were all near technical perfection and full of stage presence.

One of the best parts was spotting some former Dance Spirit “You Should Know” dancers! Juliet Doherty (Junior Gold Medal Winner) killed a fierce contemporary routine. Even audience members in the back row were marveling at her incredible feet and flexible back. Click here to read more about Juliet.

Hannah Bettes (Liza Voll Photography)

And Hannah Bettes (Senior Gold Medal Winner) stood out, dancing the lead role in a piece featuring Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory (the school won “Outstanding School” at YAGP 2011.) At 16, Hannah’s shining performance rivaled many professional dancers. Click here to read more about Hannah.

The first act’s finale was truly incredible: All of the YAGP finalists (250 dancers!) performed Carlos dos Santos, Jr.’s Grand Defilé. It was truly an amazing moment—so many young, talented performers (many of whom don’t even speak English) dancing beautifully together.

The Finalists of Youth America Grand Prix 2012 in Grand Defilé, choreographed by Carlos dos Santos, Jr. (Liza Voll Photography)

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