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By Kina Poon
Tonight, everything culminates for 350 international student finalists as they compete for the top awards of the Youth America Grand Prix. (Dancers who have been in their shoes? Sarah Lane, Beckanne Sisk, Whitney Jensen, and Lauren Lovette—just to name a few.) In addition to winning medals and scholarships, some students will earn a coveted spotlight moment in tomorrow evening's hit parade: "The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow."
YAGP always pulls out all the stops for their galas, and this year's edition is no exception. Svetlana Lunkina will perform for the first time since she announced her leave of absence from the Bolshoi, citing threats related to her husband's business dealings, in January. (According to this CBC News article, she had already been in Canada, where she is a permanent resident, for six months at the time of the announcement.) In an exciting new partnership, American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes will dance with the lovely Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Dorothée Gilbert in MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet. Gomes has also choreographed a solo for Chase Finlay of New York City Ballet (Tous les Jours, a reference to ballet's merciless day-in, day-out training requirements). City Ballet will also be represented by its resident cool glamazon, Tess Reichlen, and its Prince Charming, Tyler Angle, in another premiere, by Emery LeCrone. New York gets its first look at Wayne McGregor's Borderlands (see this month's cover story), with tiny dynamo Maria Kochetkova and up-and-coming corps member Lonnie Weeks of San Francisco Ballet. YAGP has also paired Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet and Herman Cornejo of ABT in Le Corsaire, with Alejandro Virelles, a beautiful Cuban dancer recently of Corella Ballet and now at BB, showing off his Ali. Two more Cubans—two of Ballet Nacional de Cuba's biggest stars, Viengsay Valdés and Osiel Gounod—will perform a new piece by Peter Quanz. Clifton Brown, the former Ailey star, also makes an appearance, in a solo by Fredrick Earl Mosley.
Dorothée Gilbert and Marcelo Gomes rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. Photo by James Bort, Courtesy Gilbert.
But we'll be on the edge of our seats for this pièce d'occasion: Nina Ananiashvili and Lil Buck sharing the stage in their signature role, The Dying Swan. Lil Buck's take is mesmerizing; Ananiashvili's, given her age and her emphatic rendition, is heartbreaking. The last time we saw the Georgian diva perform her Swan in 2011, the deafening applause called for an encore—and she immediately ran upstage and performed the solo again. Who knows what will happen tomorrow night...
Toi toi toi to tonight's final-round competitors, and get your tickets to tomorrow evening's show here.