YOUTH AMERICAN GRAND PRIX
April 17, 2015
The Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) presented their annual gala “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow,” at the David Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. YAGP is an international scholarship competition that brings in young competitors from 5 continents, representing 30 countries. The final round takes place in New York and offers the chance for young dancers to be seen by renowned directors, teachers, and critics.
In the first half of the program, winners of this year’s competition performed short variations from classical ballets as well solos from the contemporary component of the competition. A mix of high kicks from Junior Grand Prix winner, Shin-Yong Him’s Esmerelda accompanied an elegant finesse displayed by Yu Kurihara’s (senior women’s 1st place) Paquita. The Ellison Ballet’s professional division, winner of the Ensemble Category, pulled off an exciting and trick-filled excerpt from Carmen. With 360-degree jumps and a series of multiple in sync turns, Ellison served as one of many examples of the fresh passion and energy the students brought to the stage.
In YAGP tradition the first half closed with the “Grand Defile,” featuring choreography from Carlos Dos Santos and over 250 YAGP participants. Grouped by height and age, they quickly enter and exit the stage with precise turns and highflying scissor leaps. At the last moment, all of the young performers enter the stage; it’s an exciting moment- hundreds of smiling faces taking their first of potentially many final poses at Lincoln Center.
The second half’s “Stars of Today,” opens with a rousing Latin Ballroom number performed by dancers Denys Drozdyuk and Antonina Skobina. Other notable pieces include The Royal Ballet’s Melissa Hamilton in her New York Professional debut (a YAGP alumnus) and Eric Underwood in Wayne McGregor’s Pas de Deux from “Qualia”. Dressed simply in a white leotard and Underwood in a white top and shorts, the piece is understated and sexy. McGregor has a way of winding body limbs into avante garde poses at once elegant and dismembered.
Bolshoi Ballet’s Evgenia Obraztsova and Seymon Chudin’s Pas De Deux from “The Pharaoh’s Daughter,”elicited cheers and screams from the theaters fourth ring where the participants sit. Although perhaps not theatre etiquette appropriate, it’s endearing to hear young people get so excited when a dancer takes on 32 turns on pointe or Chudin beats his leg quickly moving across the stage in a series of jumps. Although shaky for some of the performance the two dynamite dancers pull things together for a solid ending.
To close the show in traditional gala fashion was Isabella Boylston and Kimin Kim in the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. Both dancers, YAGP alums, are in their career primes and didn’t disappoint with their dancing. Kim’s powerful presence tended to overshadow the softer Boylston, but they complimented each other well in the coda and managed to complete the one task a dance gala tries to achieve: to entertain.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Bailey Moon