The 7 Youth America Grand Prix Competitors You Should Have Your Eye On
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.
My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.
In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."
An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.
"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.
With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.