The show featured the works of 19 budding choreographers, all finalists vying for this year's big prizes. The winner receives a $15,000 production budget for their very own, evening-length show in NYC, produced by Break the Floor, while first and second runners-up win $5,000 and $3,000 production budgets, respectively. So naturally, all of the choreographers brought their A-games.
Honestly, we haven't been able to stop talking about it since. Nicole and I sat down this morning to debrief.
Maggie: So let's talk Saturday night. How would you characterize the overall vibe of the evening?
Nicole: Super high energy. It was so cool to walk into a ballroom full of dance lovers and professionals, all on the edge of their seats waiting for the show to begin.
Maggie: I completely agree. It was awesome to see that high energy carry into the choreography—especially in the musical theater pieces. Derek Mitchell's We Both Reached for the Gun and Caleb Teicher's A Little Moonlight didn't skip a beat. So much fun.
Nicole: The contemporary pieces were also really strong. I especially enjoyed the complex partnering in Jessie Hartley Riley's No Need to Fear. Our 2014 CMS finalist Alyssa Allen ROCKED that piece.
Maggie: And what about Jake Tribus and fellow CMS finalist Sarah Pippin in Kristen Russell's The Cave? Talk about a feel-good piece. I loved the sweeping movement across the stage—it felt like they were frolicking in a field.
Nicole: Totally. But let's talk about the big winners of the night. Second runner-up Emma Portner's Let Go, Or Be Dragged—I really appreciated the way she incorporated elements of street dance in a contemporary piece. Plus, the super-solid ladies partnering was quite impressive.
Portner entered the competition with another piece: Come Back, Let Me Under!
Maggie: I agree. I thought her movement quality was especially unique. I applaud her dancers for pulling off such complex, idiosyncratic movement with complete precision.
Nicole: First runner-up Cherrise Wakeham's She was completely different but equally impressive. It was romantic and gentle and lovely.
Maggie: And those skirts. Where can I get one? But the big winner of the night was Talia Favia. Her piece, The Difference Between Action and Words, was extremely powerful. The dancers used tape to convey the feeling of being silenced or controlled.
Nicole: The dancers just went for it. It was probably the most technically demanding choreography of the evening. Shout out to January 2012 cover guy Chaz Buzan, who was a real standout in the piece.
Favia entered the competition with another excerpt: The Difference Between Sinking and Drowning.
Maggie: Chills. Saturday night also featured excerpts from last year's runners-up: Lindsay Nelko, Jacob Jonas and Andre Kasten. We really saw how much development can happen in a year!
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!