Friday, November 11, 2011

An Evening With Anne Polajenko: "Y.A.G.P. 'A Closer Look'"


   I’ve been asked so many times about the selection process for the Youth America Grand Prix final in New York , I figured this might be appropriate time – as semi final rounds begin for 2012 – to give the following description.

   In order to reach the final rounds of Youth America Grand Prix, dancers must first compete in a semi-final round in a location of their choosing. This can be in any number of places from Brazil to Mexico, Europe, Japan and in eleven locations around the United States. Semi finals take place between Sept. 2011 and March 2012. All locations and dates are listed on the Y.A.G.P. website,

   The earliest on the schedule is usually Brazil where Marisa Pivetta of the arts organization Passo de Arte is in charge of organizing the event. Dancers may come from as far as Argentina for the several day event. In addition to competition, they have the opportunity to take classes from master teachers. The competition is open to soloists (Men and Women), pas de deux and ensembles. Each are judged in their own category.

   Solo competitors are divided into three age groups: Pre Competitive (ages 9 – 11) Juniors (ages 12 – 14) and  Seniors ( ages 15 – 19). All perform Classical Variations from a selected list and a Contemporary solo. Judges award scores based on performance but also on technique they have observed in the classes. Only competitors achieving very high scores are eligible to continue on to the New York finals. 

   Judging the competition are the representatives of the international schools offering the coveted scholarships. These are only awarded at the Gala performance concluding the final rounds in New York. This year’s panel in Brazil included:
Tara Mitton Catao from the Harid Conservatory – USA
Christine Gunn – New Zealand School of Dance
Luca Massala – Princess Grace Academy Ballet - Monaco
Tadeusz Matasz – John Cranko School – Stuttgart Ballet - Germany
Nancy Raffa – American Ballet Theatre – JKO School – USA
Carlos dos Santos Jr. – Alvin Ailey School – USA

   30+ international judges rotate for semi final rounds. Eventually all will come together in New York.

   To view a video and learn more about Passo de Arte and the Brazilian portion of the Y.A.G.P. international selection process, go to

   2003 was the first year dancers from Brazil participated in the New York final rounds. With Anne Polajenko of So’Dança (bottom center) are a few of that year’s big winners:
Daniel Deivison (San Francisco Ballet School, now a company soloist) at the back right;
Paulo Arrais Neto (Paris Opera Ballet school, now soloist with Boston Ballet) behind Anne; Isabella Gasparini – Gold Medal Juniors (National Ballet of Canada School) next to Anne, and Flavia Carlos – Silver Medal Juniors – next to Paulo.

   --- Anne Polajenko

     And here we are, the weekend is at hand, let us go out and rejoice in the awesomeness that will occur, hope you all had a fantastic week and hope you have a glorious weekend, 

 Love from your humble blogger,

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