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Youth Grand Prix America


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 08:27 AM

Victoria, how did it go? Did you bring back any interesting impressions?

#2 Natalia

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 08:49 AM

Thanks, Victoria. Now you've *really* piqued my interest to find out how it went! For the time being, get some rest...

#3 Natalia

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 07:58 AM

Victoria - Thanks for posting your candid & honest impressions. WHEW - sounds like a competition from hell! :)

Such disorganization shows a lack of respect for those who worked hard to compete. The YAGP folks could learn a thing or two from the Jackson IBC organizers; now *there's* a group of true professionals who know how to run a competition like clockwork.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 16 May 2002 - 08:10 AM

Thanks for sharing that article, BW.

Verrrrry interesting....

The full picture becomes a bit clearer, doesn't it? ;)

#5 Natalia

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Posted 16 May 2002 - 09:22 AM

Victoria et. al -

Of course Anderson has to tone it down a bit. It's a shame that he couldn't tell-it-like-it-is! We're grateful for the candid reports of Victoria & the others who were there.

Like I stated earlier: The Competition from Hell (logistically speaking, at least)!!!

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 May 2002 - 04:31 AM

One point hasn't been addressed headon here, and that is what the competitors from other nations received as an early impression of what ballet is like in the US. It sounds embarrassing, and not the way any production should be shown in any venue (even "amateur night in Dixie"), let alone in a world-class one like New York City. It makes both the town and the country look bad.:)

#7 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 09:11 AM

BW, the age thing is hard to really answer, because there are always rare exceptions to almost everything. However, generally, children of 11, 12, and 13, even those with a great deal of talent, are still not advanced dancers. They are talented potential and should be doing work suited for their physical and technical development at the time. The classical variations were created for professional soloists and principal dancers. They are very difficult.

We have a talented 12 year old who attended another school prior to coming to our school last fall. The other school was big on entering competitions, and the director of that school entered this child in one of the Grand Prix regionals this year, even though she is now a student at our school. The mother called and asked for coaching for her on one of the Paquita variations, one which is difficult for our most advanced 16 and 17 year olds! While this child is very talented, she is absolutely not ready to be doing this kind of work! (Not to mention asking to be coached at our school when we have not entered her in this competition! We do not enter students of this level, even if they are exceptionally talented. But that is beside the point of this topic.)

If they are going to have 12 year olds competing, then they should, IMO, be doing things choreographed for them which are suitable for their technical abilities and physical maturity. Variations on pointe for students who have only been on pointe a year or so are not generally appropriate, in my opinion of course.

Another big problem of this competition is that 15 year olds are in the same category as 18 year olds, and the Juniors range from 12-14. There is a huge difference between those ages, in both categories, in terms of physical maturity and strength.

Just a few more reasons why I don't much like these things ;)

#8 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 04:57 PM

Very good way of putting it, aubri :) Making "stars" out of 12 year olds has nothing at all to do with the making of a dancer/artist.

#9 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 25 March 2002 - 09:03 PM

BW, that is one of the questions I had thought of too, about the winners of this particular competition getting summer scholarships. Certainly they are the ones who would get summer scholarship offers anyway! If the scholarships were for the following year, or even half a year of tuition, it would seem to be more valuable. But of course the idea of winning in NYC comes into play here too. Why they bring so many people to NY I don't know. It has to do with points won in the regional competitions.

#10 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 05:46 AM

Excellent post and explanation, vrs! Thank you. I agree that the age categories should be changed, at least as far as considering a 15 year old a "senior". Do you know what the lowest age is for the Juniors?

BW, our school has also benefitted from sending students to this particular competition, and so far I don't think that it has hurt anyone, although that remains to be seen a bit further on. We had 3 last year and there are three this year, two of them repeats and one new one. All senior category this year, but the 15 year old was a junior competitor last year. It was their own decision to compete. One of them is also on the list for Jackson, a 16 year old.

I am yet to be convinced that all this preparation and emphasis on competing, working on the same variations for a long period of time, sometimes missing classes for rehearsals and coaching sessions, is the way to go. But, that remains to be seen too, and I will try to stay openminded about it. I think the things that create my reservations about these competitions are the politics and judging aspects, the fact that artistry is not something that can be judged like a sport and these things place ballet in the position of being treated like a sport, and the fact that some very young dancers become "stars" way too soon.

And then there is the $$$ factor. The fact that they have to allow non-winners to attend the finals in NY in order to pay the bills, the costs to the entrants themselves as well as the school or teacher, and the way that acceptances to the NY finals vary from being in a regional to just sending a video or even automatic acceptance if you are from a certain school. Somehow this just does not seem quite right to me.

#11 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 06:05 AM

Thanks, vrs. We do not cancel any classes either. However, sometimes the students who are competing miss their classes in order to rehearse. Not all the time, but any time taken from classes is not good, IMO :)

#12 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 07:47 AM

Bravo, vrs!!! I have always disliked the term pre-professional, and you are absolutely right! :)

My question about the lower age limit, having never been to one of these competitions, is based on concern that very young dancers are doing variations on pointe from the classical repertoire. I don't know if this is the case, but if it is, I don't think I want to see it. Seeing 11, 12, or even 13 year olds doing variations that were created for professional ballerinas and soloists is not my idea of a good time. :(

#13 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 02 May 2002 - 04:32 PM

The School of the Washington Ballet has two students in the Senior Category this year. Also, our Young Dancers will be performing at the Gala. I will be there Sunday and Monday for parts of the competition and for the Gala.

#14 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 04:49 PM

Yes, I was there. I just got home, and I don't think I am ready to post my impressions at this time. They are very negative, but it's not the dancers, it's the organization, or more correctly, the total disorganization of the whole event. I will try to do more on this, but no time right now.

#15 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 04:31 PM

Okay, I'm going to try and tell you a bit about this competition. Please keep in mind that I was not there in any official capacity. I was just there to observe and experience it. Our school did have two students entered, and our Young Dancers were performing on the Gala, so I had a vested interest, but not a direct need to be there as I do not work on the competition variations, and the Young Dancers ballet was choreographed by Lynn Cote and rehearsed by Lynn and our Associate Director of the school, who also coached the variations. I do teach these dancers, however.

My problems with this particular competition are not about the dancers or the winners. I think I have previously expressed that I am not generally in favor of competitions for young dancers, as I believe they become all about the tricks and not about the art of ballet. The development of an artist is not just about how many pirouettes or fouettés they can do, or how high they can jump. Entering them in competitive events focusses on these things and not on the art. It also promotes very young dancers doing things that they might not be ready to do correctly, which will develop bad habits that are very hard to get rid of. It can be very detrimental to talented young people who don't "win", and it can promote major egos, the "star" syndrome, in those who do. For dancers who are already professional, or ready to be professional and looking for a job, I think they can be valid. For children, I am not convinced that they are a positive thing.

That said, let me now deal with this particular competition. It was the most totally disorganized event of any kind that I think I have ever attended. The schedule kept changing, there were too many contestants, there were massive delays every day including the Gala itself, and the production staff at Alice Tully totally screwed up the Gala by not having a proper rehearsal so that the stage manager (if there was one) and the sound person could have some clue about what they were doing. Not only did the dancers not get to rehearse for the Gala, but the technicians were lost. The sound person either had no communication with the stage manager, or the stage manager had no clue what was going on, or both. Many of the dancers did not know if they were performing on the Gala or not. The sound person was either a moron, or just had not been given the information and the rehearsal time to know that a grand pas de deux has to stop after the pas de deux, before the male variation, and then again before the female variation, and then again before the coda. He also stopped the music in the middle of the ballet that our Young Dancers were performing, and did not restart, even though the dancers kept going. One of the Grand Prix variations was done almost totally in silence after her tape messed up very early in the dance. She kept going, and did a lovely job in spite of this.

But this was NY. It was Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. I thought I was at some obscure performance at an Amateur Night in Dixie. It was unbelievable. It started over an hour late, the sound person wrecked the show in several instances, and the awards ceremony was as disorganized as the rest of the event. The night before we had waited over an hour for the results of the competition for the finalists in the Grand Prix. The students had been going all day, and they were there until midnight two nights in a row. They started at 9:30 in the morning the next day. The Monday competition for the Grand Prix placement was also delayed by an hour. They went from there to Alice Tully, supposedly for a rehearsal, and they did not get to run anything on the stage. They did a light cue and a sound check and that was it. No run through. They got there at 4:30 and were scheduled to perform at 7. It did not start until 8 or after. Their performances that night showed the exhaustion, and probably a total lack of food as well. There was no time between the competition at one venue and the need to be at Alice Tully at 4:30. Another major flaw was the stage. It was filthy. You could see the dust, which made it very slippery. There were slick spots that were visisble from the house. Several dancers fell, including one of the guest artists from ABT.

My other HUGE problem with this competition is that they have 15 year olds in the same category as 19 year olds. This is absurd. You have very talented children competing against young dancers who are company ready, and there were several of those who were indeed ready and quite wonderful. But not fair to the younger dancers to be in the same category. And the "pre-competitve" category is also, IMO, a problem. There were children under 12 years old doing things that just should not be done at that age. On pointe. Even some of the Juniors, who are 12-14, were asked to do work that I feel is beyond most of them. Some were ready, but very few. Other categories were also strange, and the competition in the non Grand Prix events, like Classical Seniors and Contemporary Seniors, is puzzling to me. I did not quite understand and saw a lot of people in the Classical Seniors category who were not anywhere close to the level of the people in the Grand Prix.

Other than that, it was a great weekend ;)


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