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

Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Challenge Your Friends and Family to This TikTok Ballet Quiz

The latest popular TikTok dance challenge isn't the "Renegade," or set to "Savage," by Megan Thee Stallion—it's testing how much your friends and family really know about what you do in the studio all day.

TikTok user @kayausvlogs recorded herself asking her partner to guess what common ballet terms look like based on the way they sound. The results were...mixed, to say the least—and pretty hilarious. Naturally, the trend went viral, and now dancers everywhere are testing their friends and family and posting the results. Here are some of our favorites.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search