Home & + | Search
Featured Categories: Special Focus | Performance Reviews | Previews | DanceSpots | Arts and Education | Press Releases
Join ExploreDance.com's email list | Mission Statement | Copyright notice | The Store | Calendar | User survey | Advertise
Click here to take the ExploreDance.com user survey.
Your anonymous feedback will help us continue to bring you coverage of more dance.
SPOTLIGHT:
YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX 2001
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
ExploreDance.com iPad Edition

New!
Read ExploreDance.com on your iPad!
Only $0.99 per issue! No ads!
www.exploredance.com/subscribe.htm
ExploreDance.com (Magazine)
Web
Other Search Options
Robert Abrams
Dance Events
Competitions
Ballet
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ** **
exploredance.com
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
ExploreDance.com Kickstarter Campaign

The ExploreDance.com Kickstarter campaign is live! Please consider backing our campaign to help us expand our coverage of dance.
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1306220552/exploredancecom

Youth America Grand Prix 2001

by Robert Abrams
May 6, 2001
New York, NY
The finals of the Youth America Grand Prix 2001 were held in New York City from May 4 to May 6. Regional competitions in classical and contemporary ballet were held in Denver, CO, Long Beach, CA, Chicago, IL, Boca Raton, FL, Winston Salem, NC, Torrington, CT, and Philadelphia, PA. As a result, the competitors in New York represented some of the best young ballet dancers in the United States - plus a few outstanding dancers from Japan and Europe.

The dancing was consistently inspiring. The dancers rose to the occaison such that I kept thinking, "How did she do that?" To be sure, a few dancers didn't stick their landing at the end of their routines, and a dancer stumbled during her routine once in a rarely. A youth dance competition is mostly about potential, so perfection isn't required for the audience to cheer the dancers on.

You should keep in mind that I am not a Ballet aficionado (I am mostly a Ballroom/American Smooth dancer), so I could be pardoned, as good as the dancers were, if I had started to say to myself, "Not another Esmeralda Variation?!"

Quite the contrary. The beauty of the Youth America Grand Prix was that at the same time it gave the participants the chance to push their craft to new heights (literaly when en pointe) and go home with feedback from a group of top judges, the event as a whole gave me a chance to gain insight into a foreign dance world. By "foreign" I am NOT referring to the numerous number of superb dancers wandering around chatting away in Russian. We have plenty of superb Russian dancers in Ballroom too.

I am not particularly familiar with Ballet's established body of choreography. The Youth America Grand Prix 2001 gave me the opportunity to see a solid range of choreography - much of it by Petipa, but more on that later. A body of named choreography is one of Ballet's strength's. The lack thereof, in my opinion, is one of Ballroom's current weaknesses. Ballroom is still stuck in a Guild stage of its intellectual property evolution - people tend to treat choreography as trade secrets.

One way to appreciate the nuance of choreography is to see the same work performed over and over again. For instance, in the three sessions from 3 PM to 7 PM on Saturday, Esmeralda's Variation (choreography by Vaganova) was performed five times. At first, I was impressed that the dancer could play the tambourine while dancing en pointe. After the third rendition, it started to look like a gimmick - an impressive gimmick to be sure. The tambourine seemed decoration. If dance is the movement of the body transformed into art, a prop takes away from the dancer's purity of expression.

But then, in the fifth and final rendition of this block of sessions, Andrea Emmons (18 years old, teacher Teresa Emmons) performed Esmeralda's Variation. She played the tambourine with authority, as a musical instrument and not just as a decoration. By seeing the choreography interpreted five times in short succession, it was possible to see that Vaganova was communicating that it is possible for there to be a unity between dance and music. Seeing this sequence of Esmeraldas, it was possible to see the same message in the special guest performance of Mucuy Bolles' choreography entitled "Antigamente" (translated as "once upon a time…") where Ms. Bolles seamlessly interacted with her moving (both literally and musically) violin accompianist, Daniel Roumain. The Esmeralda Variation is an example of classical ballet while Mucuy Bolles' work is an example of contemporary ballet, but the choreographic idea is the same.

In addition to gracing the stage as a guest performer Sunday night, Mucuy Bolles was one of the competition's panel of judges. The other judges were Robert Berthier, Oleg Briansky, Giuseppe Canale, Eleanor D'Antuono, Ana Marie Forsythe, Martin Fredmann, Melissa Hayden, Katrina Killian, Kevin McKenzie, John Meehan, David Richardson, Suki Schorer, Gailene Stock, Nadia Tencer and Laura Young. A distinguished group if there ever was one.

The following sections of this report include an interview with a judge, an interview with a Grand Prix finalist, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek proposal to take Ballet to new heights, and pictures galore. Even if you read no further than this, I strongly suggest that you consider attending or participating in the next Youth America Grand Prix. If you are a young dancer, you will have an opportunity to work on your craft. If you are a Balletomane, you will see much great dancing at a price well below what you would pay for a single night at the theatre. If you know nothing about Ballet, you will walk away richer for the experience.

You can find the Youth America Grand Prix web site at www.youthgrandprix.com

.




I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Canale about his role as judge and his views on dance. Mr. Canale was born in Italy and received his dance training at the National Academy of Dance in Rome, Maurice Bejart's Mudra dance school in Switzerland, and the School of American Ballet. He has toured extensively as a dancer with such companies as Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the 20th Century (Bruxelles), Ballet Company of Jean Deroc (Switzerland), Ballet Company of Germinal Casado (West Germany) and the Het National Ballet (Netherlands). Mr. Canale has choreographed works for Het National Ballet and for Teatro Massimo, becoming its Artistic Director in Italy in 1994. As the director of the company, he revitalized the theatre's repertoire and initiated multiple arts outreach programs. Since moving to the United States, Mr. Canale has become the Co-Director of The Northeast Academy of Dance and has appeared as a judge at the Luxembourg International Ballet Competition.

Robert Abrams: What do you look for when you judge a ballet competition?

Giuseppe Canale: Respect. Dance that is appropriate for the age of the dancer. Clean technique. Physical possibilities. Musicality. Coordination. I try to encourage them, to encourage their talent to go further.

RA: What has impressed you the most about the dancers here?

GC: There is a lot of talent here. A lot of good, young girls who are nine, ten, or eleven years old. They are very strong.

RA: Are there differences between young ballet dancers in the US, compared to in Europe or other parts of the world?

GC: Americans are different than Europeans. I love Americans for their attack.

RA: Could you expand on what you mean by "attack"?

GC: They go for it. They don't hesitate. They have energy floating. That's nice.

RA: Why do so many young ballet dancers choose to dance to choreography by Petipa?

GC: Petipa is one of the classical Russian choreographers. He was the greatest classical ballet choreographer. Everything comes after him.

RA: How can young dancers give back to their community?

GC: Do competitions. It is not just about winning. The experience of being with other students. Share the experience of being with other kids, other students. Reach by seeing other students.

RA: What makes you passionate about dance?

GC: I love dancing. Dance has been my life. I have been dancing since I was a child. I love to see beautiful dancers.




As brilliant as the Vitae of the judges may be, a ballet competition is first and foremost about the young dancers. I had a chance to talk to Emily Zimms, one of the participants, about her dance experience. Ms. Zimms is fifteen years old. She studies with Inessa Pakri at the Academy of Colorado Ballet. She was the winner of the Denver Regionals, and placed in the final twelve of the Senior Grand Prix category at the New York Finals.

Robert Abrams: How did you start in dance?

Emily Zimms: My cousin. I wanted to be like her. I was inspired. I took Jazz first. I took Ballet when I was ten. I have been dancing Ballet for five years.

RA: What has been best about this experience?

EZ: Coming to New York. Being with great people. It has been a great experience. Getting help with my teacher to prepare for the competition. Things that seemed big in the past don't seem as big now. The competition is also good to have in my resume.

RA: Why are you passionate about dance?

EZ: Expressing yourself, it is fun for others. However, I don't even see them (the audience) - performing is for me. What I love the most is that it makes me the happiest.

RA: What are your goals for your dancing?

EZ: I have to do the next production at CB2. Le Sophide, a solo part. We will have two performances. We still need to go over it and get it together in rehearsal.





There is a part of Ballroom that wants to be like Ballet, with an emphasis on technique, clean lines and performance. There is another part of Ballroom that wants to be like Basketball and other sports. It is with this experience of dance-as-sport in mind that I offer the following suggestion for taking Ballet competitions to the next level - only partly tongue in cheek.

Several participants danced choreography in which they used a bow as a prop and pantomimed firing arrows at some unnamed target - perhaps a deer, perhaps a lover. To be most convincing, a dancer must convince the audience that she really is firing an arrow. To so convince the audience, the dancer is likely to benefit from some practice firing actual arrows. Moreover, dance can be about motion and stillness. To demonstrate both elegant motion and stillness in the same performance is surely evidence of mastery. One existing sport in which participants must demonstrate both motion and stillness in the same event is the Biathlon: participants must cross-country ski and then fire a rifle at a target, ski again, stop and fire at a target, and so on until the finish line. The competitor's score is a combination of his time from start to finish and the accuracy of his shots at the targets. Imagine, then, a stage set with perhaps five large targets. The dancer must dance for a minimum number of seconds, stop, fire an arrow at the first target, dance again, fire an arrow, and so on until all five targets are attempted. To succeed, a dancer would have to go from motion (dancing), to stillness (archery) repeatedly. The scoring would be a combination of the current system of judging artistic merit, combined with the accuracy of her arrows. There might also need to be a few additional rules, such as "A dancer will be disqualified if she skewers a stagehand with her arrrow."

Sure, it sounds like a gimmick, but playing the tambourine en pointe can look like a gimmick too until you see it done well. Are you up to the challenge?




There was one aspect of the event that frankly made no sense. This was not the revelation that there is such a thing as a tutu bag.

There were a small handful of dancers who were competing as individuals, but who danced with a non-competing partner. While I appreciated the partner's dancing as art, I do not see what it added to the judges' ability to evaluate the competing dancer's ability. If partnering skills are part of the evaluative criteria, then all dancers in the competition should be judged on this basis. If partnering skills are not part of the evaluative criteria, no dancers should compete with a non-competing partner and should reserve such skills for the ensemble category.

From a Ballroom perspective, moreover, this anomaly goes deeper. The few dancers who did compete with a partner used choreography that didn't involve much actual partnering. Much of the time when both partners were on stage simultaneously, one partner would dance alone while the other stood still, and then they would reverse roles. When the two dancers were dancing in partnership, it was mostly limited to the man spinning the woman en pointe, plus a lift here or there. As I said before, I know a minimal amount about Ballet, so I do not want to let any subcutaneous strictly ballroom attitude let me jump to conclusions (the better one gets in dance, the more one has to guard against "attitude" and the creeping rigidity it brings), but I think that, based upon my own experience in Ballroom as well as evidence which could be seen in the Youth America Grand Prix ensemble performances, young ballet dancers can do a great deal more with partnership dance within the structure of Ballet than was evidenced in the few individual performances that incorporated a non-competing partner. If the Youth America Grand Prix were to add a partnership or duet category to the competition, I am sure that students, teachers and choreographers would rise to the challenge.






Enough talk, serious or otherwise. Here's what you are probably really interested in: pictures. The pictures were taken with an Olympus C-3030 digital camera. An F stop of 2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second was used as a compromise between stopping the action and having sufficient exposure. While there is no substitute for seeing dance performed live, especially since the human eye is a much more sophisticated light gathering device than any camera yet invented, the camera can reveal a beauty of the dance that is often too fleeting to see in the moment. With this in mind, the participants of the Youth America Grand Prix may represent the future of Ballet, but the beauty of their dance is now.



Pictures of performances are generally in the format:



    Dancer's Name, Age


    Choreography being danced


    The student's teacher(s)


    Original Choreographer




Clicking on a picture will show you a larger version of the picture.






Mallory Clark, 16


Aurora Variation, Sleeping Beauty


Amy Price, Amanda Shepard


Petipa







Arolyn Williams, 15


Paquita Variation


Jeremy Collins


Petipa







Marlena Bono, 17


Esmeralda Variation


Valia Seiskaya


Vaganova







Rachael Meyer, 15


Aurora Variation, Sleeping Beauty


Judy James, Annette Debas, Juan Sanchez


Petipa








Nicole Torgerud, 17


Variation from Le Corsare


Jo Jean Retrum


Sergeyev







Jacqueline Rafferty, 18


Giselle Variation


Wes Chapman, Roger Van Fleteren


Perot








Saran Vaaler, 19


Venice Carnival


John and Margrita Withes


Petipa







Taryn Olivieri, 15


Swan Lake, Pas de Trois


Charles Maple


Petipa









Cynthia Heidelberg, 17


Black Swan Variation, Swan Lake


Bonnie Mathis, Lirena Branitski


Petipa, Ivanov








Kotoe Kajima, 17


Kitri's Variation


Valentina Kozlova


Petipa









Suzanne Takahashi, 16


Le Corsaire Variation


Ayako Takahashi


Petipa







Daphne Zneimer, 18


La Bayadere


Marat Daukayev


Petipa








Hannah Kugler, 16


Sugar Plum Fairy


Alan Woodard


Lev Dvanov








Megan Huter, 15


Giselle Variation


Inessa Pakri


Perrot






Lauren Menger, 17


La Bayadere


Valia Seiskaya


Petipa










Amy Ruggiero, 17


Variation from Etudes


Valia Seiskaya


Lander









Fitzgerald (#800)


???


???


???








Madge Turner, 18


Variation, Esmeralda


Magdalena Maury


Vaganova








Ashley Kohl, 17


Black Swan


Sharon Story


Petipa







Michelle Thompson, 17


Sugar Plum Variation, Nutcracker


Inna Bayer


Inna Bayer







Katherine Whitlock, 15


Paquita Variation


Magdalena Maury


Petipa









Tara Kaleta, 15


Paquita Variation


Mary Moe Adams


Petipa







Rachel Lieberman, 15


Les Selphides


Nadia Veselova-Tencer


Fokine









Jarvi Raudsepp, 15


Variation from La Fille Mal Gardee


Nadia Veselova-Tencer


???









Miriam Golumb, 15


Paquita Variation


Olga Kresin


Petipa









Heather O'Halloran, 16


Paquita Variation


Mihailo Djuric


Petipa







Mary Ellen Beaudreau, 15


Paquita Variation


Mihailo Djuric


Petipa








Brigid O'Grady, 16


Pas De Trois' Variation, Swan Lake


Inessa Parki


Petipa









Hillary Lopes, 15


Kitri Variation, Don Quixote


Mishailo Djuruc


Petipa










Emiko Mannehs, 16


Aurora Variation, Sleeping Beauty


Kumiko Fujii


Petipa










Tatyana Martyanova, 17


Paquita Variation


Svetlana Osiyeva


Petipa








Kate Brezovsky, 17


Variation from Le Corsaire


Svetlana Osiyeva


Petipa










Elizabeth Chasteler, 17


Satanella Variation


Salwa Rizkalla


Petipa











Mira Allmeyer, 15


Kitri Variation, Don Quixote


Inessa Pakri


Petipa










Stephanie Bauger, 17


Medora Variation, Le Corsaire


Armando Gonzalez


Petipa







Priscilla Marrero, 15


Sleeping Beauty Variation


Liana Navarro


Petipa










Gabrielle Zucker, 18


Sylvia Variation


Eleanor D'Antuono, Susan Goldman


Balancine








Sara Mearns


Variation from Grand Pas Classique


Shamil Yagudin


Gsovsky









Melissa Thomas, 17


Variation from Satanella


Wes Chapman, Roger Van Fleteren


Petipa










Regina Palomar, 16


Variation from Diana & Acteon


Lucy Arce


Vaganova









Yuki Yasuda, 15


Giselle Variation, Act 1


Asako Ito


Perrot, Coralli









Cynthia DeGuzman, 16


Variation from Pas de Classique


Liana Navarro


Gsovsky









Amber Jackson, 16


Black Swan Variation


Jo Jean Retrum


Petipa, Ivanov











Victoria Lane Green, 17


Paquita Variation


David Moroni, Galina Yordanova, Jacqline Weber


Petipa








Andrea Emmons, 18


Esmeralda Variation


Teresa Emmons


after Vaganova








Emily Lynn Zimms


Queen of Driad Variation, Don Quixote


Inessa Pakri


Petipa







Melissa Hough, 16


Gamzatti Variation


Vladmir Djouloukhadze, Alla Sizova, Michele Wiles


Petipa






-



Likolani Brown, 16


Grand Pas Classique


Patricia Berrend


Gsovsky











Kyra Homeres, 16


TBA


Christine Spizzo


Petipa







Elizabeth Gahl, 15


Diana and Actaeon


Patricia Berrend


Vaganova











Elizabeth McGrath, 18


Variation from Satanella


Svetlana Osiyeva


Petipa









Jennifer Whalen, 18


Don Quixote


Linda Strangio-Hedberg


Petipa














Simone Elena Messmer, 16


Gamzatti Variation


Bonnie Mathis


Petipa








Courtney Clarkson, 15


Corsaire Pas De Deux


Magda Aunon, Magali Suarez


Petipa













Ashley Laracey, 17


Nutcracker Variation


Svetlana Osiyeva, Oliver Pardina


???












The audience packed the theatre.







Alexander Dutko, 14


Don Quixote Variation


Sarah Reid, Jessica Haris


Petipa, Gorski







Bo Busby, 17


Nutcracker Variation


Svetlana Osiyeva, Oliver Pardina


Oliver Pardina









Kiyoshi Kawano, 12


Le Corsaire


Ayako Takahashi


Petipa






Anthony Spaulding, 15


Golden Idol from La Bayadere


Kee-Juan Han


Petipa








Mathias Heymann, 13


Variation Espagnole


Veronique Sottile


Durand







Christopher Espinoza, 16


Le Corsaire


Liana Navarro


Petipa







Cory Stearns, 15


Black Swan


Valia Seiskaya


Petipa








Colby Damon, 16


Bluebird Variation, Sleeping Beauty


Petrus Bosman, David Keener


Petipa







Stephen King, 14


Pas De Trois Variation, Paquita


Dmitry Malikov, Slava Mesropov


Petipa








Brooklyn Mack, 13


Corsaire Variation


NA


Petipa









Benjamin Harber, 19


Variation, Don Quixote


Stela Viorica, Marat Daukayev


Petipa

















James Whiteside, 16


Angela D'Valda Sirico, Steve Sirico, Franco DeVita


Petipa










Sarah Bodley, 18


La Fille Mal Gardee


Donna Bonasera, Bryan Lewis


Gorsky








Britany Larsen, 16


Gulnare Variation, Le Corsaire


Debra Collins Ryder


Petipa








Stephanie Wisner, 15


Adele Variation, Die Fledermans


Sherry Moray


Ruth Page









Shannon Jones, 16


Variation, Coppelia


Teresa Emmons


After Saint Leon










Robin Benowitz, 18


Le Corsaire Variation


Sherry Moray


Petipa











Maria Tayag, 16


Kitri Variation, Don Quixote


Malu Rivera-Peoples, Inna Bayer


Petipa








Jennifer Yackel, 16


Giselle Variation, Act 1


Teresa Emmons


Perrot, Coralli










Maan Nabong, 15


Paquita Variation


Sherry Moray


Petipa










Katie Canavan, 16


Odette Variation, Swan Lake Act 2


L. Gulyeva


Petipa









Jordan Gazdziak, 15


Raymonda, Act 2 Allegretto Variation


Sherry Moray


Ruth Page










Rosie Lathrop, 16


Rosalinda Variation, Die Fledermaus


Sherry Moray


Ruth Page










Allison Campbell, 15


Aurora Variation


Cassandra Crowley


L. Alonzo after Petipa







Liliane Guillot, 17


Raymonda Variation, Act 1


Marina Noodga


Petipa








Michelle Beyerle, 18


Esmeralda's Variation


J. Anibal Macedo


Petipa









Rehearsal for the Grand Finale














Saturday Night Award Winners








SUNDAY - The finals, Ensemble competition finals, special guest performers, the grand finale, the award ceremony.





























































































































































































































































































































































ExploreDance.com

ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ******
exploredance.com


home || view our calendar || the store || copyright information || join our mailing list || mission statement
Search for articles by
Performance Reviews, Places to Dance, Fashion, Photography, Auditions, Politics, Health