January 29, 2019

The YAGP Experience

CityDance Conservatory students take to the road for the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) experience each season.

Youth America Grand Prix, founded by Larissa Saveliev, is the world’s largest global network of dance. It fulfills its mission of dance education through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, educational and outreach activities, performances and films.

Over the past 9 years, since the founding of the Conservatory, CityDance has been participating in YAGP and has garnered broad recognition and awards at YAGP Regionals - from top 25 and top 12 finishes, to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place individual and ensemble awards across classical and contemporary techniques and best choreography, outstanding school, outstanding teacher and Hope awards. CityDance Conservatory students have also received invitations to perform and awards at the annual international Finals in New York City.

Participating in YAGP benefits our dancers in countless ways. Preparations allow our young dancers to train intensively as well as learn new original contemporary solo choreography with professionals of stature. They also perform challenging classical variations staged and coached by a Nijinsky Award winner.

Such individualized attention is confluent to our overall programming at CityDance and something that we are very proud to offer our Conservatory students.

The YAGP experience also allows our dancers to learn to deal with the pressures that accompany live performance. Each YAGP regional semi-final has special master classes for different age groups.

At YAGP, the dancers gain recognition, occasionally win awards and have the opportunity to receive offers and scholarships from reputable dance companies and schools for summer study. They also may be invited to attend the annual YAGP Finals in New York City. Winning an award at the international Finals is very hard to do, but it is particularly thrilling for the dancers, given that the award ceremony and gala take place at Lincoln Center. Two seasons ago, at the 2017 Finals in NYC, Conservatory student Makani Yerg was recognized by Shelly Power, then Artistic Director and CEO of Prix de Lausanne. Power invited Makani to attend the 2018 Prix de Lausanne, bypassing the normal application process. Makani participated and gained the honor of being one of the 20 finalists in one of the most prestigious dance competitions in the world.

For each YAGP regional competition, our dancers travel with CityDance School & Conservatory Founding Artistic Director Lorraine Spiegler and Ballet Master Stanislav Issaev. The dancers and coaches visit different cities, having the exciting opportunities to meet new audiences and dance professionals along the way. So far in 2019, CityDance students have attended YAGP Regional Competitions in Atlanta, Georgia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Conservatory Dancer Kirby Brenner (17), finished Top 24 Overall Senior Division at YAGP Atlanta. While in Atlanta, Kirby met Bobby Barnett, Artistic Director Emeritus of the Atlanta Ballet and former New York City Ballet dancer, and even had private coaching with him!

At the Pittsburgh Regionals, two of our youngest dancers performed extremely well -  Ashley Dougherty (13) finished Top 12 Contemporary Junior Division and Top 24 Overall Junior Division. Corbin Holloway (11) received the Hope Award and was invited to perform at the 2019 Finals at Lincoln Center. This is Corbin's second Hope Award. For their excellent performances, Stanislav Issaev also earned the Outstanding Teacher award at YAGP Pittsburgh.

Purchase, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2019 YAGP Regionals are just ahead for our dancers.  Ella Berton (11) and Madison Sharer (15) will travel to New York February 22 through 24, and Mackenzie Davis (16) and Logan Byrd (14) will travel to Philadelphia March 1 through 3.

Overall, the YAGP experience is one of great benefit to our young dancers, and we're so proud to expose them to the greater dance world each season.

Photos courtesy of Stanislav Issaev.