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How Youth America Grand Prix Is Keeping A Spotlight On Dancers

Over 1,000 dancers from around the world were slated to descend on New York this week to participate in Youth America Grand Prix’s final round. But like most events around the country, the annual ballet scholarship competition — dubbed the largest in the world — was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, to celebrate what would have been the much-anticipated conclusion, the non-profit is streaming last year’s New York finals to a global audience.

Mimicking the competition’s multi-level format, the stream will feature performances of New York’s 2019 final round from both the junior and senior divisions. The live event will premiere on Facebook at 7 p.m. April 17, and a repeat of the stream will take place April 18 at 7 a.m. for international audiences. In an announcement on Facebook, Youth America Grand Prix Artistic Director Larissa Saveliev stated that she will be watching the live broadcast with viewers and will be on the lookout for comments.

“This is an opportunity for you, your family, friends and online community to gather around some of the world’s most promising young dance talent and join the world’s largest dance block party from the comfort of their home,” Saveliev said in the post.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the competition, which annually doles out high-dollar scholarships for recipients to attend distinguished dance institutions (since it was founded, the institution has awarded $4 million to dancers). Leading up to what would have been the 2020 New York finals, over 12,000 ballet students ages 9 to 19 spun through semi-final rounds, culling together finalists from 14 counties worldwide for placement. This week’s events would have determined the competition’s ultimate winners, in addition to bringing together top participants with prestigious companies and schools.

“You don’t have to be the winner to get the prize,” Saveliev told ALL ARTS last year, explaining the competition’s focus on placing students within programs. “You don’t have to be first, second, or third. You just have to be spotted — noticed by one of the school directors. And that’s your biggest prize. You’re going to get your acceptance to the school.”

To account for the potential loss in scholarship opportunity, Youth America Grand Prix announced a virtual scholarship program last week that allows for eligible dancers to apply for scholarships and placement at participating schools and companies.

“For 20 years, YAGP has been committed to assisting students with the next steps in their dance careers,” Saveliev said in the announcement. “And even in these challenging circumstances, we continue our mission of facilitating as many scholarships as possible.”

In addition to the scholarship portal, Youth America Grand Prix has called upon alumni and other ballet luminaries to present a host of free online classes for dancers. Luca Masala, Sasha, Maria Khoreva, Kathryn Morgan, Karine Plantadit and Skylar Brandt are among some of the artists featured. An archive of classes can be found on the Youth America Grand Prix Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


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