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Editorial: Youth America Grand Prix rises like Spring

by Robert Abrams
May 11, 2003
New York, NY

Editorial: Youth America Grand Prix rises like Spring

May 11, 2002

For those in the know, Spring in New York City is marked not just by the blooming of daffodils and tulips, but also by the blooming of tutus. The Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) held its final round of competition in classical and contemporary ballet in New York City on May 6. This is the second year ExploreDance.com has covered the event. YAGP is a great way for young ballet dancers to test themselves against their peers. The event includes several workshops, so it can be a learning experience as well as a competition. Since there is only one dancer competing at a time, each dancer can be assured the full attention of the distinguished panel of judges. YAGP is also a good way for non-ballet dancers to gain an introduction to ballet. Not that many such dancers do - most of the audience is family members and other competitors - but I heartily recommend that others check it out next year.

Here are a few pictures from the final round.


Maria Abashova (Gold Medal winner in Senior Women), standing with fan


Maria Abashova in jete


Joseph Philips (Gold Medal winner in Senior Men), saluting the crowd

There is still one aspect of YAGP's competition structure which I do not understand. A small handful of women compete with a partner, usually for a short section of their routine, and then come back on and dance alone for a while. It would seem to make more sense to either require all dancers to compete with a partner, or to prohibit such partnering. As it is, some dancers are being evaluated on a different set of skills. As loathe as I am to push YAGP onto the slippery slope of category creep (the phenomenon where ballroom competition organizers stuff ever more dances into their competitions to get people to pay for more entries - for instance, I happen to like Argentine Tango, but the philosophy which underlies Argentine Tango is fundamentally non-competitive and so by rights it should not be featured in ballroom competions), YAGP only has three categories for individual dancers so far (Classical, Contemporary,

and Grand Prix which requires a dancer to perform both types of ballet) - four if you count the Ensemble category. YAGP should add a partnership category. In such a category, the participating man and woman would be judged together, just as in ballroom amateur competitions (just don't use ballroom's scoring systems as a model - more on that some other time). The pair could be any two dancers for that matter. New York City has female firefighters, so there is no biological or choreographic reason why a woman couldn't perform a lift if she wanted to train for it, and that set peice where the male dancer spins the female dancer looks like it takes more finesse than muscle strength. With a partnership category, the Grand Prix category could be restricted to single dancers only, which would make the judging more logically consistent. Dancers who wanted to show off their partnering skills could compete head to head with other such dancers.

For more pictures from the final round, go to yagp2002.html. For pictures from YAGP 2001, go to yagp2001_vsm.html. To visit YAGP's web site, go to www.yagp.org.

Sincerely,

Robert Abrams

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