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The 7 Youth America Grand Prix Competitors You Should Have Your Eye On

Gabriel Figueredo. Photo via Instagram @biel_figueredo

Youth America Grand Prix, the world's largest student ballet competition, is coming up on the end of its 20th-anniversary season. As aspiring pre-professionals gear up for this year's New York Finals, we're taking a look at a handful of YAGP participants who are already generating major buzz.


Gabriel Figueredo

Age: 18

School: John Cranko School

Awards & Accolades: 2019 Prix de Lausanne winner; 1st Place in the Senior Men's Classical Dance Category at 2019 YAGP Barcelona; Só Dança Ambassador; Junior Men's Youth Grand Prix at 2013 YAGP New York Finals (age 12)

The Brazilian dancer has the kind of regal charm and crazy facility—the extension, that turnout, those feet—that bring to mind hyper-talented stars renowned for their refined classicism, like Vladimir Malakhov. His controlled legginess also makes him an ideal vessel for choreography like Wayne McGregor's.

António Casalinho

Age: 15

School: Conservatório Internacional de Ballet e Dança Annarella

Awards & Accolades: Senior Grand Prix at 2019 YAGP Paris; 2018 Special Distinction Award and Emil Dimitrov Prize for Young Talent from Varna International Ballet Competition; winner of "Got Talent Portugal" 2017; Youth Grand Prix at 2018 YAGP Paris and 2016 YAGP New York Finals; Hope Award at 2015 YAGP New York Finals and 2014 YAGP Paris

The precocious Portuguese dancer has been competing (and racking up awards) steadily since 2012, and in 2017 he won reality competition show "Got Talent Portugal." But the ease with which he's dominated since stepping into senior categories—and the cool confidence with which he pulls off bravura variations and impossible turning combinations—suggests that this prodigious dancer won't flame out anytime soon.

Mackenzie Brown

Age: 16

School: Académie Princess Grace

Awards & Accolades: 1st First Prize/Gold Medal Winner, Contemporary Dance Prize and Audience Award at 2019 Prix de Lausanne; Miss World Dance 2016–17; Finalist and scholarship winner 2016 YAGP New York Finals

Although Brown hasn't competed at YAGP since she landed her scholarship to Académie Princess Grace at the 2016 Finals, we couldn't leave off the only American prizewinner at this year's Prix de Lausanne. Her technique is refined without being precious, with generous épaulement and exquisite attention to detail—and she's got a knack for contemporary rep, too.

Jake Roxander

Age: 16

School: Studio Roxander

Awards & Accolades: Senior Grand Prix at 2018 and 2019 YAGP Las Vegas; Youth Grand Prix at 2016 and 2017 YAGP Seattle

Roxander grew up training at his parents' studio in Oregon (where he and his dad occasionally get into light saber duels during Nutcracker season). He's walked away with the Grand Prix at regional YAGP competitions for the last four years. His solid technique and exceptional talent for turning caught the eye of Pennsylvania Ballet director Angel Corella, who offered Roxander a spot in PA Ballet II next season.

Joaquin Gaubeca

Age: 16

School: Cary Ballet Conservatory

Awards & Accolades: Senior Grand Prix at 2019 YAGP Winston-Salem; Bronze Medal, Senior Male Classical Division and 5th Place, Senior Male Contemporary Division, at 2019 American Dance Competition | Youth International Ballet Competition

A relative newcomer to the American competition scene, Gaubeca's stage manners are as generous as his plié. While his ballet performances need more technical refinement, his rawness and abandon make him a compelling mover in both classical and contemporary choreography.

Jonacy Montero

Age: 16

School: Westlake School for the Performing Arts

Awards & Accolades: 1st Place in the Senior Contemporary Dance Category and 2nd Place in the Senior Classical Dance Category at 2019 YAGP San Francisco; 2nd Place in the Senior Contemporary Dance Category at 2018 YAGP San Francisco; 1st Place in the Junior Men's Classical Dance Category and 2nd Place in the Junior Men's Contemporary Dance Category at 2017 YAGP San Francisco; 2015 New York City Dance Alliance National Junior Male 1st Runner Up; 2014 NYCDA National Junior Male 2nd Runner Up

A capable, gracious partner, Montero frequently teams up with his classmates (usually, Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales) to compete with pas de deux. But his contemporary chops equal, if not exceed, his classical capabilities, marking him as a truly versatile dancer on the brink of coming into his own.

Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales

Age: 15

School: Westlake School for the Performing Arts

Awards & Accolades: Youth Grand Prix at 2018 and 2019 YAGP San Francisco; 1st Place in the Junior Women's Contemporary Dance Category and 3rd Place in the Junior Women's Classical Dance Category at 2017 YAGP San Francisco; New York City Dance Alliance National Junior Outstanding Dancer 2016

The petite dancer's sunny persona and clear lines when dancing classical variations bely the intensity and articulation she brings to the table in contemporary work—a duality reflected by her back-to-back Grand Prix wins at YAGP San Francisco.

In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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