Get to Know YAGP 1st Place Winner Elisabeth Beyer
Last month, Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program student Elisabeth Beyer came in first place in the senior women's category at the Youth America Grand Prix's New York City Finals. Pointe touched base with the 16-year-old Rye, New York native to hear about her advice for competitions, how she stays calm backstage, and what's next for this young dancer.
What made YAGP different this year?
I was so excited for YAGP this year because it was my first year as a senior. I started YAGP when I was nine, so this was my seventh year doing it; it's always been a part of my life as a dancer.
Which variations did you perform?
For regionals I did Coppelia Act III variation, Grand Pas Classique and a contemporary piece by Barry Kerollis, and then for finals I did Grand Pas Classique again and a contemporary variation by Joshua Beamish. For the final round I did La Esmeralda. You don't have to do a different variation at finals, but my teachers and I wanted to show off different sides of my dancing.
What were the finals like?
I had so much fun this year. The whole time I was at finals I was smiling. I had such a great time preparing backstage and dancing onstage, and seeing all my friends. After all of the work I put into preparing throughout the year, it was nice to see that pay off when I performed.
Have you entered other ballet competitions?
Last year I competed in the Moscow International Ballet Competition at the Bolshoi Theater. That was also an amazing experience. And I'm going to the USA IBC in Jackson, MS, in June, so I'm looking forward to that as well.
Beyer in pas de deux class at Ellison Ballet. Photo Courtesy Ellison Ballet.
What are some tips that you have for dancers just entering the competition circuit?
I definitely get nervous before I go onstage, but it helps to think of competition as a performance, just in front of judges. I also say a Buddhist mantra 10 times, which is my lucky number, before I go onstage. It helps me to calm down.
What do you wish you could have told yourself as a nine-year-old when you were starting out at YAGP?
Even though it's lots of hard work, ballet is my dream. I think that it's easy to get caught up in the stress of competing, and it's nice to take a step back and realize that in the big picture it's just one competition.
Beyer with her brother. Photo Courtesy Beyer.
What does a regular day look like for you?
I commute into the city, so I take my brother to school and then carpool with a friend who's also at Ellison. We leave at 8:00 am, and depending on the traffic, get in around 9:15. We stretch till 10:30 when our technique class starts. We have pointe next, then a lunch break. In the afternoon we have workshop, which can be a rehearsal for our showcase, or more pointe class, or jumps or conditioning. In the evenings I usually have a private rehearsal with a coach for an hour; the time varies, because it's hard to get studio space in New York. In both directions in the car I do my homework. I'm in 10th grade and I'm taking all my classes online. I sort of miss normal school, but I have some tutors from my old school who help me with my math and English sometimes, which is is helpful.
What's next for you?
We have our spring showcase for the Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program this weekend. Then I'm going to the Jackson IBC in June; I'm trying to finish all of my finals before I leave. Then I'm doing two weeks at the Ellison intensive before going to San Francisco Ballet's summer intensive for the first time.
What are some things that you like doing outside of ballet?
I love reading and I like to bake and do crafts and hang out with my little brother when he's not too busy. I'm currently reading a book in my favorite series, The Selection.
What's your dream role?
I have three: Giselle, Kitri or Juliet.
Dancing kween Jennifer Lopez is preparing us for the second season of "World of Dance" by dropping an insane World of Dance promo that has her slaying the dance floor like we've never seen before. If America wasn't on the edge of their seats for the May 29th premiere they are now—wondering how the contestants of "World of Dance" could possibly outdo such a performance—but there's no doubt they will. This season's roster of dancers really takes the show's name to heart cause it's out of this world, with each dancer as ferociously talented as the rest! (We don't envy J. Lo's job of having to pick just one.) We've rounded up 7 young dancers you won't want to miss.
The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.
When watching Megan Skalla dance, several things are immediately obvious. She has legs for days and the archy feet to match. Her core is rock-solid, and her sweet smile is contagious. But the longer you spend with her, the more something else becomes clear: Megan’s got sass. Whether it’s a sharp shoulder roll during a hip-hop class or an intense stare during a sky-high développé, there’s a certain something extra that makes this 16-year-old pop. And her steadfast devotion to dance means she’s only getting better.
Megan started dancing when she was 3 at a small ballet studio near her hometown of Draper, UT, and was hooked immediately. At 7, she switched to a new studio, Pulse 31, and started to compete, but she still wasn’t dancing as much as she wanted. Finally, she came to The Dance Club in Orem, where she currently trains. She takes ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary and lyrical, and sometimes supplements her training with private ballet classes at nearby Barlow Arts Conservatory. “I’ve always loved ballet,” says Megan, who has attended summer intensives at Pacific Northwest Ballet School on scholarship for the past two years. “It’s the foundation for everything, and it makes me a stronger dancer in other genres.”
Though she dances from morning until night, Megan admits to boogying through her kitchen when she gets home, and would still do more if she could. “There’s a dance company that’s a big deal at my high school, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do both,” she says. Devoting her time to The Dance Club, she says, is more conducive to her goal of dancing professionally. The studio is full of mega-talented dancers, and Megan shines among them. Her secret? “In class, some dancers will avoid going across the floor with someone they think is better than they are,” she says. “But I like to go across the floor with the best dancer in class. That way, I can push myself to come up to her level.”
Megan’s strategy is working. She won the Teen High Score Solo award at New York City Dance Alliance regionals and was a Top 10 Outstanding Dancer finalist at NYCDA Nationals. She has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and was one of four Capezio NYCDA Model Search winners. As for the future, Megan knows one thing for sure: She’s going to keep dancing. “I want to go to college for dance, maybe to Brigham Young University, Marymount Manhattan or Juilliard,” she says. “But I still have a while to decide.” Until then, she’ll stick to her busy schedule. “It’s a lot of late nights and early mornings,” she says. “But it’s worth it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Birthday: March 6, 1996
Favorite food: Pasta
Most-played on her iPod: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
Dream dance role: “It would be really fun to be a Rockette. I want to do the Rockette summer intensive this year.”
Three words that describe her dancing: “Soft, passionate, aggressive”
Dream dance company: Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Favorite dance movie: Step Up
Who would play her in a movie: Nina Dobrev from “The Vampire Diaries”
First thing she does in the morning: “Hit the snooze button so I can sleep for 10 more minutes.”
Favorite dancers of all time: Travis Wall and Joey Dowling
Hidden talent: “I like to sing, but I’m only OK. I’d like to take voice lessons.”
Performer she’d die to work with: Celine Dion
Must-see TV shows: “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Lying Game”
Allison Thornton, Megan’s teacher at The Dance Club: “Megan has the body that every dancer dreams of: long legs, beautiful feet, great extension. But the best thing about Megan is that she knows how to use it all. She works really hard, and as good as she is in rehearsal, she’s even better onstage. Megan is very humble. She always has a smile on her face, she gets along with the other girls and she’s easy to work with. She’s a good person who has been blessed with great talent.”
Joanna Numata, street jazz instructor at Broadway Dance Center: “The first thing I noticed about Megan were her beautiful lines. She also had a really good, positive energy during class. She took direction and corrections well, which is so important.”
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
I started dance classes at a young age. By the time I was 3, I was training at The Dance Club, and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventions as a mini, and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so much variety—I was in awe.
Considering we practically live in our dance clothes, there's really no such thing as having too many leotards, tights or leggings (no matter what our mom or friends say!). That's why we treat every sale as an opportunity to stock up. And thanks to the holiday weekend, you can shop all of your dancewear go-tos or try something totally new for as much as 50% less than the usual price.
Here are the eight sales we're most excited about—from online options to in-store retailers that will help you find the perfect fit. Happy Memorial Day (and shopping)!
DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.
Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!
Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
Paige Fraser has performed on world-class stages and in a video with Beyoncé—yet some of her most meaningful dance moments happened in tiny classrooms on a small island 1,000 miles from America. This past spring, Fraser, who's danced with Ailey II and is a founding member of Visceral Dance Chicago, teamed up with the non-profit Milk Carton on a String to bring dance to underprivileged children in Haiti. Fraser taught daily ballet and modern dance classes and used YouTube videos and social media to introduce the students to other aspects of dance they hadn't been exposed to.
Now, Fraser plans to continue to use dance to give back through her own newly-funded non-profit, The Paige Fraser Foundation. But instead of traveling outside the country, Fraser will be helping kids in her childhood home: the Bronx. She wants her foundation to assist aspiring dancers no matter their color or abilities.
Read our interview with the dancer and do-gooder—and discover the life-changing diagnosis that inspired her to help other dancers achieve their dreams.