The Stars Align at Youth America Grand Prix

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.

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.

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.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search