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Youth Grand Prix America


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#16 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 05:18 AM

Can anyone explain to me why some students in this competition go through Regionals to get to NY, while others appear to just be entered and accepted directly into the NY finals? The only explanation I can think of is that, by allowing some prestigious schools to just send their students and not do Regionals, it opens up the Regionals for more students to have the chance to "win" and get to NY, thereby increasing the numbers in NY and of course increasing the amount of money that comes in from all the fees the students pay for each category and competition they enter. I understand those who do Regionals do have to pay to enter there, and then pay again to enter NY, except for the one Grand Prix winner in each Regional.

Other things I forgot to mention include the announcer during the events announced the name and age of the student, the teacher and the name and choreographer of the variation. I could never hear what he was saying at all. Then, at the Gala, the "emcee" was a guest star from Broadway, who, though charming and funny, had no clue what she was doing up there and wasted a large amount of time trying to figure out where she was on the page, what she was supposed to do next, etc. She had to keep calling the other announcer over to ask him what she was doing. It got very tedious and added to the length and tedium of the third act of this marathon.

#17 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 04:16 PM

They do indeed have a lot to learn, bhough. And I think that there just may be some major schools not participating in the future. There was one very major school that I know of which won a Major award last year and did not enter this year. My guess is that there will be more next year.

#18 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 04:00 PM

Exactly, aubri.

Balletmama, videos are accepted, but there are also some schools who do not have to do anything, just enter for NY.
By the way, I did not call it the competition from hell, however, I don't totally disagree with that terminology :) While I'm sure the people running it are extremely well intentioned, they have a lot to learn about these things if they are going to attract the best students from all over the world to NY for these finals. If you were not at the NY competition, you have no idea what it was like there. This was not a regional, in one city with one group of students. There were 218 of them there, from several countries besides the US. It costs a huge amount of money to travel from foreign countries, and it costs a HUGE amount of money to be in NY for several days in a hotel and eating in restaurants. There were people there from places in the States that are very far away and very expensive to travel from, like Hawaii, for instance. There were 28 dancers from Japan. There was a Ukranian student, an Austrian student, a Swiss student, and a number of Canadians. I just don't think that people are not going to be willing to do this after experiencing this kind of disorganization.

The competition also included very young students, called "pre-competitive", however, they were competing too. It encourages very, very young dancers to take on classical work that just should not be attempted by dancers of this age. Even the junior category pushes the dancers into classical variations that are mostly beyond their abilities. There were some juniors who were well qualified. However, I have to still question the validity of this kind of competition for children of 12 and 13 years old. I think that I would be more comfortable with the juniors being 14-16, and the seniors 17-19. The way it is now there are 15 year olds competing in the same category as 18 and 19 year olds who are looking for company positions.

#19 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 16 May 2002 - 08:16 AM

Jeannie, I responded to that article on the place where it was originally linked, but not sure what day that was. Anyway, I felt that Anderson was extremely kind, but also inaccurate when he said half an hour. The Gala was scheduled for 7 and it started after 8. And he did not go into the serious problems that really happened there. The sound system damaged one variation. The sound technician damaged two other works, including the grand pas danced by Savaliev and Reyes. Badly. The dancers did indeed do a very good job of carrying on. The awards were, IMO, fair and well deserved. I had no problems with that part of it at all, other than the way they were presented. Lots of talent there from lots of places! But the event, all of it, not just the Gala, was a totally disorganized fiasco. :)

#20 archaeo

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Posted 07 April 2002 - 09:09 AM

My daughter was telling me yesterday that a friend of hers is coming to NYC for a competition in May. She didn't know the name of the competition, but she said that he had won something in LA in order to qualify for this one.

So, I have two questions: is this the right competition, and can we buy a ticket and go along and watch?

Fran

#21 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 05:33 PM

Interesting questions BW. These questions are appropriate for most competitions, not just YAGP. I am not really able to answer the questions as they apply this year since I have not judged YAGP since the first year 2000, I think it was. Maybe things have changed and I only did the regional level. My students were not involved, nor did any of the judges have students competing. Yes, I was paid to teach Master classes and judge for the scholarship money available. I did not judge for the prizes since I did have students competing! This took my time and a lot of work believe me. It is not all fun and games. Judges do not always agree and there is a lot of work to be done. It may look like we are having fun, but that probably is because we love what we do, but do not let that fool you. It is hard work.

We are professionals and must get paid for our work. I am a dancer from the 1960's and 1970's when we were just expected to dance because we loved it. It was supposed to be okay to suffer and not make a decent living wage for 12 hours of very difficult, stressful and demanding work. I could never ask anyone to do that nor will I ever allow myself to do it again. It is also a lousy example to set for one's students. It is an unfortunate part of any business, the financial realities, but believe me people who demand to be paid for what they do, get a lot more respect from all including the business world, who in the end, really have a big impact on the not-for-profits such as ballet. YAGP is a not-for-profit organization. No one is making money believe me. The expenses in running a competition are very big. Who knows maybe there is someone on line who knows something about that!

#22 vrsfanatic

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Posted 26 March 2002 - 05:13 AM

I have the understanding that YAGP was originally conceived to allow American dancers the opportunity to be seen on stage annually by highly qualified professionals in a performance setting . As explained to me by Larissa, the year the competition was being planned, it was to be for 12 to 15 year olds only. Somehow it became a competition also for much younger students as well as older students, I think up to age 18.

YAGP has had to face the financial realities attached to doing such a competition annually. It is now being held in Japan and brings in international judges. Frankly, the international judges do give the opportunity for less corruption. Professional contracts have been given out at the Competition, top prize a contract to ABT Studio Company. Students are offered scholarships to various summer courses but as has been stated previously, the ones chosen for scholarship are in deed the same students who have already received scholarships to various other summer courses.

Having served on various small scale competition juries I would have to say the politics of YAGP are no different than other small scale competitions. As AT has stated, yes people do receive prizes because they are 18 and it is their last year, just like students in schools or dancers in companies receive roles because they are older or have a higher ranking. I do not necessarily agree with this, but it is a reality of the Dance World and are we as teachers not responsible also to help our students to be prepared for what they will face in the profession?

The fact that YAGP Finals are held in May does make it difficult for the judges to award the prizes to students who have not already made commitments to summer programs, but when else could it be held? Certainly not in December, no one would participate if it were held before Nutcracker was over. The fact that the prizes do go to the same students and schools, for me is quite normal. We, as teachers, school directors, and company directors are all after the same thing, the best students available. Personally, I think the fact that the same schools are awarded the top prizes could be some politics but not only politics!;)

#23 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 04:56 AM

Are competitions necessary? They are if you are a foreigner. Foreigners are not able to secure work in the USA without qualifications which show they are better than the American counterparts. With US Immigration this is done by showing prizes and awards. It is an actual question on the O1 and H1 visa application form.

As for Americans, I personally do not find it important in the least to participate in or win a competition, but it has become a way to find jobs. Companies like to use flashy PR regarding the dancers and winning awards. It is one thing the American mentality understands. Read the bios of the dancers in our companies with the highest professional standards. It always mentions this award or that award. If it were not considered a selling point they would not mention them.

It does not hurt a school either to receive this publicity. To say you have a student who has won such and such or the school has received top honors or the teacher has been awarded. Competition is high and one never knows what attracts various people. Sometimes what attracts some could push others away.

The competitors are numerous in NY because they do not only invite the winners to the Finals in NY. I think it is anyone who scores a 75 or higher. This pays the bills! An example: there are 10 regionals (this is hypothetical), 6 winners, 3 juniors and 3 seniors in each regional. That only makes 60 competitors all together. That will not pay the bills in NYC, for that matter anywhere. Also they accept video entries. People who did not compete in the regionals for some reason or another but are permitted to show themselves in NY. Some schools have open invitation to compete and only show themselves in NY, not in the regionals.

I can only speak for myself, but we have not only sent students to competitions to win an award. We have sent some when younger, to experiemce what it is like so that when they are older and they may be able to win. It will not be their first competition. For example in YAGP they have 15 year olds competing against 18 year olds. In our school there is a vast difference between the two age groups. Our 18 year olds are very, very good artistically and technically. Our 15 year olds may have the technique but not the maturity artistically, therefore the 15 year old is not able to be competitive with the 18 year old. The 15 year old might compete for experience but not to be awarded. The 16 year old however could actually win, beat the 18 year old! this I have seen. I find the age difference in YAGP too vast.

Is it a good experience? Overall I would have to say YAGP, as Prix de Lausanne, has been a good experience for our school and the students. We generally have won what we set out to win or accomplished what we set out to accomplish. Goals must be set for the school and the various students who participate. Not all can win the 4 prizes available in YAGP, but the students can achieve. We take our foreign students and they are seen by the "biggies", the younger ones gain experience in competition (ours are all in the 15 -18 year age group, we do not have students who are not in high school). The older ones win the prizes we set out to win and if they do not win, well they have had an experience being seen also by the "biggies". It has never hurt. The students do not have to participate, it is their choice and believe me there are many sitting at school wishing we had selected them to participate.

As far as I know, we have selected not to participate this year in YAGP. That could change, things always can. Our reasoning...timing. Our performances are just too close to the dates of the finals. It takes a lot of time to prepare the students for competiton and for us it may not be necessary to be seen every year! We will see!

#24 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 05:56 AM

Victoria, I agree completely with your post. I sit back and watch quietly. We do not cancel regularly scheduled classes however to rehearse the variations thank goodness, but I know we are very lucky to have the availablity of the students much more than the schools that work only "after school hours".

I wish you and your school all the best in your efforts this year. I know you and your school were quite successful last year. Merde!:)

#25 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 07:14 AM

I do not know the youngest age for competitors. Maybe 12. I know in the regionals there are a lot of really little ones running around, but they do not all compete. Yet again another way to make money. Let the little ones "get experience" I think is the idea. Since we do not even have juniors I cannot even comment on the little ones from first hand experience.

This one is for BW: Yes, I am fortunate enough to be teaching in a professional program. If you do not mind may I please suggest that you note, I said professional program. We are all professional teachers/former professional dancers working in a professional school. There is nothing pre-professional about what we do. I hope I may speak also for all of the other professional schools that are out there. Just because a school trains minors, it should not be called pre-professional. We all work our hardest and with our hearts, very professionally. We come from professional backgrounds and get professional results! A school that trains students on track for a profession career should be considered a Professional School! We certainly expect professional standards from our students.:)

#26 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 08:35 AM

I must agree with you Victoria, it can be rather frightening to see 11 and 12 year olds on pointe doing adult variations. But then again, sometimes quite interesting, as was the case about 12 years ago when Vanessa Zahorian, SFB soloist I believe, was a 9 year olds doing triple pirouettes on pointe in a variation she had prepared at CPYB for a performance at a summer program in Michigan. She was amazing. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. Was she artistically mature, of course not, but she was a knockout technically. I have never seen this technical level from a 9 year old again. Believe me, we all sat there in amazement.

I have sat through the regionals of YAGP. What a long day it can be! Sometimes such horrors, but then again sometimes some delight. As we have discussed privately, I have never been to the finals, had to stay home and teach, but I have heard from others the finals can also not be of the highest level, if one had to discuss the entire program. I hear from good sources though that those students from Washington are very good!:)

#27 vagansmom

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 02:17 PM

Some of the teachers and dancers I know who attended said that a lot more work still needs to be done in organizing. Floors also were very slippery - that seems to have been a widespread opinion.

Apparently there was a big contingent of really impressive Asian dancers that swept many of the awards.

#28 vagansmom

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Posted 14 May 2002 - 02:23 PM

I was delighted to read in that article that Barry Hughson was honored with a choreography award. I've loved his choreography for many years. Barry is a graduate of Nutmeg Ballet who went on to dance with the Washington Ballet before coming home to the Torrington area where he began what's now a very successful after-school arts program for children. He's now the head of the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT and a frequent teacher/choreographer for Nutmeg Ballet. My daughter's performed in many of his dances over the years.

#29 balletmama

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 07:09 PM

Originally posted by aubri
So why bother with regional? :confused:


This might sound corny, but regionals were a wonderful experience for my favorite young dancer. To have the opportunity to prepare a variation and perform it there, to take the workshop classes, to connect with the other dancers...it was well worth doing and totally different from making a video.

#30 balletmama

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Posted 10 May 2002 - 11:54 AM

I think to call this "the competition from hell" is an exaggeration. Having attended one of the regional semifinals with my daughter, I can say that most dancers and parents I saw looked perfectly happy. I had never been to a ballet competition before, because our studio discourages them, but I was impressed that the dancers were more than civil to one another and that it was an opportunity for them to really learn and grow. My daughter, along with another 15-year-old competing in the Seniors, won a "special commendation from the judges," which amazed and delighted her; the YAGP people deserve credit for making an effort to recognize the youngest dancers in that age group. Also, their winners include dancers who are not from the biggest-name, big-company schools. And every dancer who competed was invited up to the stage and given a rose during the closing ceremonies. It seems to me that a fledgling operation like this, which is clearly rather understaffed but trying to do something positive for young dancers, ought to be encouraged by people in the dance world.


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