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!

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Dance News
Images by Norelle, courtesy Jennifer Falcione

When we asked what her proudest accomplishment so far is, Kiarra Waidelich paused for a moment. That's because she has so many to choose from: In the past two years, Kiarra's earned Mini and Junior Female Best Dancer at The Dance Awards, snagged Youth America Grand Prix's Hope Award, and made it to the divisional finals on Season 2 of "World of Dance." Equally gifted in ballet ("I love the mental and physical challenge") and contemporary, it's the latter that made Kiarra realize dance was her passion. "If something bad or stressful happens in my day, I use contemporary as a way to express and release what I'm feeling," she says. "Dance is a way for me to emote and let things go."

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Rising Stars
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, courtesy Elizabeth Gay

Avery Gay's chameleonlike abilities have earned her comp-world celebrity. In a testament to her versatility, she won the 2015 Hope Award—a prize reserved for the best classical and contemporary dancer in the pre-competitive age bracket—at the Youth America Grand Prix Las Vegas semifinals. Then she won it again at the 2016 Austin, TX semifinals.

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Dancer to Dancer

It seems like these days, if you wanted to spend all of your free time watching dance on TV, you probably could—not that we recommend it (everything in moderation, right?). But think about it: Just this spring/summer, we've welcomed Teen Vogue's "Strictly Ballet," Hulu's "The Next Step" and Ovation's "Young Marvels" to the dance TV family. Not to mention, we've blocked off our Wednesday evenings for a glorious two-hour feast of "So You Think You Can Dance."

(L to R) Madison, Lex, Sage and Andrea (photo via danceon.com)

Whelp, "SYT" executive producer Nigel Lythoe knows a thing or two about fans of dance TV—namely, they just can't get enough of it. That's why he's introducing two new web series this year, starting with "Dance School Diaries." This docu-series will follow four young ballet dancers—Andrea, Lex, Sage and Madison—as they prepare to compete in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. We're not quite sure what to expect. Will the promised drama be juicy or over-the-top? Will it be reality TV or "reality" TV? Normally, I'd say we'll just have to wait and see, but this time we don't have to wait—the series premieres today! There will be 14 episodes in total, airing on YouTube each Friday until mid-September.

Check out the trailer below, then make your way over to YouTube to watch the first episode. And let us know what you think in the comments!

Dance News

Happy Friday, ladies and gents! Does it feel like this has been an especially long week? It does, right? I have this theory that the colder it is, the slower time passes.

Anyway, here's a little something to reward you for making it through: a #FouetteFriday video!

Our friends over at TenduTV recently posted this INSANE clip of San Francisco Ballet principal Maria Kochetkova flying through the 32 fouettés at the end of the Don Quixote Act III pas de deux. (It's from the Youth America Grand Prix film Ballet's Greatest Hits, which is fantastic—go get it.)

Here's the thing about Masha: She's not just tossing these guys off. Her form is pristine. Look at that placement! It's perfect, turn after turn. Naturally, she sprinkles the series with doubles—complete with fan action—and caps the whole thing off by repeatedly changing her spot, like the total boss she is. Basically, our fouetté dreams are her fouetté reality:

*bows down*

Have a happy, dance-y weekend!

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