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The YAGP Gala (Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow) will be held Thursday, April 16 at 6:30pm at the Koch. Some of the dancers will be: Isabella Boylston, Paloma Herrera, Calvin Royal III, Kimin Kim, Kristina Shapran, Xander Parish, Tess Reichlen, Zachary Catazaro, Mikhail Kaniskin, Elisa Cabrera, Juan Pablo Ledo and Melissa Hamilton. Tickets are selling briskly. When I got mine one week ago, they had only been on sale one week and the orchestra and second ring were virtually sold out.

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An interesting lineup of artists and, with the exception of Marco Spada, all U.S. Premieres. Hopefully, should be interesting.

So the website is mistaken (and Marco Spada is not a US premiere?)

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Any reports on tonight's YAGP gala are appreciated.

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Writing now but somehow managed to lose most of the post.

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The YAGP Gala, Stars of Today meet the Stars of Tomorrow is always fun and tonight was no exception. Julie Kent and Jared Angle hosted the evening and Julie began with a heartfelt thanks to teachers, parents, the ballet going public and of course the finalists. A brief video followed with interviews with alumni (who are now working all over the world) and different ADs like Reid Anderson (Stuttgart), Ted Brandsen (Dutch) and Kevin (ABT) talking about how wonderful it was that YAGP gave students an opportunity to be seen by ADs from around the world (and gave ADs a chance to see students from places they might never go). A great institution, especially for those of limited means.

As for the dancing, before intermission it was by students who won awards. The names were not listed anywhere so please forgive me if I don't have all the info. About half the students danced variations from classical or known contemporary choreographers. A few danced premieres, created just for this night. They started off with a little 8 yr old boy who I believe did a variation from Don Q. Very cute but at that age it's really hard to predict how far they will go. Next, though, was an American pair (she was 12, he 15) who did most of the Grand Pas. The leap in maturity from the previous dancer was astonishing and these two were very good. He made sure to carefully place her before walking away and the balances she held were rock steady. Of course the crowd screamed with delight (YAGP is always a vocal) Very strong dancer, especially considering she's 12. The next dancer that made an impression on me was a Korean girl of about 14 who performed a variation from Esmeralda. She had high extensions (she held the tambourine near her head), but more impressive was her balance, as she slowly brought those développes into passe (or retire, if you are RAD trained). Wonderful. Winning for best ensemble was the pre-professional section of the Ellison Ballet School. These kids (about 20 girls and 10 boys) threw themselves with energy and their best technique into a piece about Carmen. The girl who played Carmen was quite dramatic and there were also lots of dancing for the demis. They looked well rehearsed, happy and technically adept. Well, done Edward! Then 2 Americans, Kennedy Kallis and Austen Acevedo (he now trains at Orlando ballet but at one point was at the Ellison school) danced Yuri Smekalov's Who Is My Shadow, which they previously performed at the Mariinsky's Young Choreographers Night. Unfortunately, this piece looked better on the livestream than in person; it got a subdued response from the audience both because the choreography isn't great and Kennedy really looks more of a gymnast than a dancer. Finally, the last dancer was one of 2 winners. She's Japanese (as is he) and performed what I think is the 5th variation from Paquita (the one Kondaurova usually does). I found her less interesting than the Korean girl mainly because she didn't have great epaulement and I expected more stage presence. Finally, we had the Grand Défilé performed by all 300 finalists. A lot of these kids were VERY good, even tiny 10 year olds doing difficult overhead lifts and lots of turns. There were also some 16 or 17 yr old pre-professionals who looked great; long limbed and clean technique. I think the future is bright (jobs, scholarships) for many of these kids.

After intermission we got the professionals. Most of the pieces were PDD and many were either World or NY Premieres. The segments were preceded by a brief video (they had some problems with this,so neither Tess/Zachary nor Melissa/Eric had usable videos) where the dancers spoke, generally about the work. The pieces were: 1) Denys Drozdyuk and Antonina Skobina (Latin Ballroom Champions) performing Espana Cani; 2) the Joffrey Studio Company performing kWindy Sand; 3) Calvin Royale III and Kristina Shapran performing Anton Pimonov's (from the Mariinsky) Untitled; 4) Genia Obraztsova and Semyon Chudin performing a PDD from The Pharoah's Daughter;5) Tess Reichlen and Zachary Catazaro performing Minuet from String Quartet no. 15; 6) Paloma Herrera and Juan Pablo Ledo (Teatro Colon) performing a tango called Verano Porteno; 7) Xander Parish performing Ballet 101; 8) Melissa Hamilton and Eric Underwood performing a McGregor PDD from his work Qualia; and finally Kimin Kim and Bella Boylston performing a PDD from Le Corsaire.

All of these dancers were good but not all of the choreography. The ballroom dancers were very flashy and charismatic and the choreography (by Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather) showed them off well. Still, this was a ballet crowd so the audience gave them a nice round of applause but no screaming. The Joffrey dancers looked quite good but the choreography here (by Alexei Kremnev) was entirely forgettable. Next up were Shapran/Royale. She is a lovely, romantic dancer, often quite dramatic. He is intelligent, technically clean and just plain interesting to watch (and needs to be made an ABT soloist ASAP). They looked good dancing together but this rather witty, contemporary piece didn't do them justice (the Pimonov piece was presented as part of YAGP's Emerging Choreographer Series). The real dancing started, IMO, with Genia and Semyon of the Bolshoi. She is delicate, pretty and has great technique. I love Semyon. He is tall and slender with a long neck and proud carriage. He can throw off several triple air turns and make it seem like nothing. But he is interesting to watch even just standing still. I loved them in this PDD and I'm really sorry Semyon isn't coming to ABT even without Smirnova. I also loved Tess and Zachary in Minuet. This was 1 of the 2 pieces I thought was well choreographed and suited the dancers (the choreographer was Emery LeCrone) filled with overhead lifts where Tess was in a backbend as well as penchees, Tess got to stretch her long limbs to infinity. She looked very regal and very interesting. She certainljy held her own with the better known stars like Genia. Zachary was also wonderful (and very handsome). This piece made me proud of NYCB and eager to see them in a few weeks.

Then we had Paloma and Juan Pablo. This piece was ok, a well executed tango. But here, the video was wonderful; we got to hear Paloma talk of her love of dance, no matter where, how small the theatre or audience. That she didn't think of her career, just that she wanted to dance. It was very heartwarming and I'm sure everyone was thinking about her retirement (and poor send off) in a few weeks. She got cheers when the piece ended. Up next was Xander. I've seen Ballet 101 before on YT and it's very funny and has to be performed with some precision so the positions look distinct. I thought Xander did a good job (maybe not as good as Shklyarov) but better than I expected. He has beautifully pointed feet and a good comic touch. although he goyt a warn response gpfrom the audience it wasn't as enthusiastic as in the UK.

,,,

Then Melissa and Eric. This was a typical McGregor piece, rather similar to Chroma but the two of them performed it beautifully and it really suited them well. Melissa is petite and has the flexibility of a rubber band, as Eric would take her leg and stretch over his head, more than 180 degrees. Eric is strong and partnered Melissa very securely. They got a lot of cheers from the audience. I hope the RB brings them to the Koch in June.

And finally, my favorite Kimin Kim. I was wowed by him in London last August. He has such virtuosity, charm and partnering skills I felt he was the next "it" dancer. Well, I think the audience at YAGP felt the same. Kim came onstage (Ali in Corsaire), stretched his arm up, leaped and the audience gasped. It was all good from there as Kim did barrel turns, multiple pirouettes, overhead lifts with Bella, all executed with extreme virtuosity and charm. Instead of doing just a la seconde turns, he alternated them with attitudes and pirouettes. The audience started yelling bravos after his first variation. Unfortunately, Bella didn't fare as well. Nothing was wrong (she did multiple fouettes, no problems) but she just isn't in the same league as Kim. She looked like a soloist and him like a principal (and until 2 days ago that situation was the reverse). They didn't really look good together although Kim partnered her well. Luckily, when Kim comes to ABT he'll be dancing with Semionova. I can't wait!

Anyway, it was a great night that I think everyone enjoyed. Thank you YAGP.

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Thanks for the review/info.

Looking forward to the Hallberg Legacy show tonight. Kondaurova is doing Diamonds. That should be magnificent.

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Amour - Thank you for the detailed review. I was there last night also and agree with your assessments of the evening. I went last year for the first time and loved it. I enjoy seeing the YAGP kids just as much as the "stars", many of whom were sold short by a few schlockey "world premiers" that fell flat with the audience. Kim was definitely the star of the evening. I think Boylston is a lovely dancer, but do feel she was promoted ahead of her time - as you said, she looks like a soloist - all the more when dancing with someone with the star power of Kim.

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Tonight was David Hallberg's "Legacy" night. It was something of a disappointment but to be honest I wasn't expecting too much.

First of all, there was entirely too much talking. Every piece (except Diamonds) was preceded by David's reminiscences about the piece, the company, a dancer, his nerves about guesting, blah,blahblahblah. I know he uses his body to communicate most of the time so I want to cut him some slack. But he managed to sound pompous and, at the same time, like an old man. You might expect Jacques D'Amboise or Peter Martins or even younger people like Robbie La Fosse to be reviewing their career as though it were over and in the long distant past. David is too young to take that tone, especially since he says he plans to resume dancing once he's healed.

Then there were the pieces. IMO, only a few pieces warrant discussion. The others had such bad choreography and/or dancing they're not worth spending time on. The program was: 1) the Pharaoh's Daughter PDD again with Genia/Semyon; 2) Lar Lubovitch's Scriabin Dances, performed by Veronika Part; 3) Balanchine's Diamonds PDD with Chudin and Kondaurova; 4)Bejart's BHAKTI III, performed by members of the Tokyo Ballet; 5) Pontus Lidberg's "Untitled" for ABT's Studio Company; 6) Stephen Baynes "Unspoken Dialogues" for Amber Scott and Rudy Hawkes of the Australian Ballet; and 7) Anton Pimonov's Choreographic Games 3x3 for 6 members of the Mariinsky Ballet including Kondaurova, Sergeyev, and Batoeva.

Well Pharaoh's Daughter was great, a repeat of last night. The other piece really worth discussing was Diamonds. I've seen it innumerable times by NYCB and others (generally then just the Diamonds PDD but I once saw the Mariinsky do an entire Jewels).i thought Kondaurova started out really strong and she is SO gorgeous. But towards the middle it began to get a little Swan Lakey, IMO. The emphasis on classical arms and hands, the way she bourreed, plus what I saw as a small attempt to act (and interact with Chudin) marred the performance a bit. That, I think, is not how Balanchine is supposed to be performed and it make this 20th century work look like 19th century Petipa. I wish Merrill Ashley would spend just a day or two at the Mariinsky, going over some of the lead roles. I bet it would make a world of difference. Still, this was the highlight of the evening for me.

The Bejart BHAKTI was classic Bejart, cheerfully vulgar, looking dated (though the program didn't say, a Google search indicates it was choreographed in 1968). That is almost exactly what I thought (That it reminded me of the '70's, especially things Arpino was doing for the Joffrey in the '70's). But it was well danced, really used ballet technique, and used it well, something you can't say about some of the other pieces. So I enjoyed it.

Now to the Pimonov (and not in a good way). This lightweight dance, trying to be witty was the same type of thing as last night's piece with Shapran and Royale. With its flexed feet, off balance turns on the heel (there were no pointe shoes in either piece) this was modern dance not ballet. And not even good modern dance. I felt cheated that Fateyev brought 6 Mariinsky dancers over to perform this nonsense (which lasted all of about 10 minutes)! What a waste of talent. Even though not every Smekalov piece is wonderful, I feel his choreography uses ballet vocabulary, acting and has a good sense of theatre (costumes, sets, etc) so it has more depth and challenge (for the viewer and the dancer). I'd take a piece from him in a heartbeat over Pimonov.

Finally, I want to mention that I think it was great that Hallberg commissioned a piece (which just happened to be for ABT's Studio Co.) We need more new works and more new choreographers. The last two nights have shown me how dependant we are on Ratmansky, Wheeldon,Peck and Scarlett. We need more new ballet choreographers and we need them soon. David Hallberg commissioning a piece is a big step in the right direction.

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Saw the 'Legacy' program last night---can't quite understand the criticism of Hallberg's commentary. His comments on being a dancer were thoughtful and welcome. Such an articulate

fellow----commentary could be a second career for him. Semyon Chudin was the highlight of the program for me---all I could think was 'WOW'! Kondaurova did not 'pull off' 'Diamonds'--

too much emoting, girl! She was ever the Russian Prima Ballerina......The surprise was an insert in the program for Veronika Part in a Lubovitch contemporary solo to Scriabin. She

was sandwiched between Obraztsova and Kondaurova and held her ownflowers.gif Thje Tokyo Ballet in Bhakti while not one of my favorite Bejart's (yes, I do have favorites) had an

interest the other two ballets lacked. It has been a long time since I went to a program of this kind---and it's bound to be longer still before I go back.

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Just to clarify, Austen Acevedo has been trained completely at Orlando Ballet (since age 10) with summers at ABT where he has been a national merit scholar to continue his studies during the year in Orlando. While I agree the piece choreographed on he and Ms. Kallis for the Marinsky Young Choreographer's Night was not overly impressive, the opportunity provided to these young students to travel and work with the professionals at the Marinsky and Vaganova School was very special. It is an amazing opportunity that YAGP made possible.

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Just to clarify, Austen Acevedo has been trained completely at Orlando Ballet (since age 10) with summers at ABT where he has been a national merit scholar to continue his studies during the year in Orlando.

Sorry, I think I confused him with Adrian Mitchell, who previously trained at Ellison but now trains in St. Petersburg at the Vaganova and was the lead male in the Vaganova piece presented at the Young Choreographers Night (the piece called Elementarium).

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