Eleven area dance students have been selected to attend the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. Here are the details:
Dancing toward their Dreams
Local Dancers Prepare for the Largest Ballet Competition in the World
Striking a graceful pose, Ava Conaway’s tutu sparkles, Abby Cardella balances effortlessly on the tips of her toes, and Abby Hartlieb floats across the floor in beautiful bourrées. But these aren’t members of a professional New York City dance company, they are a select group of talented ballet students at the Rage Box Dance Center in Forest Hill.
Eleven girls between the ages of 8-13 have been selected from an invitation only audition to attend the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). This event; the largest student- based ballet competition in the world; allows thousands of young dancers the chance to compete for scholarships, cash awards, college acceptances, professional contracts, and possibly the coveted opportunity to perform on Lincoln Center stage in NYC. Former YAGP competitors fill the roster of almost every major ballet company, and a select few have even appeared in Hollywood films, TV shows and documentaries including First Position, Breaking Pointe and Black Swan. Regional events are held each year in France, Brazil, China, Japan and throughout the USA.
For Rage Box students, YAGP is no small commitment. Those selected agree to multiple ballet classes per week in addition to group rehearsals and their other dance classes. Eight girls have also been chosen to compete with classical solos, requiring additional classes, rehearsals and private coaching to perfect the same choreography performed by famous ballerinas. Despite the long hours spent at the studio, the dancers also excel in academics and even on the sports’ field. Their dedication, focus, work ethic and determination rivals adults decades older, and has already lead to several scholarships and other opportunities in the dance world.
Students must not only perfect the advanced steps, but also the precise ballet technique, musicality and artistry, all of which are judged equally. In the end, it comes down to the moment the dancer steps on the competition stage, having less than two minutes to prove to the five world-renowned judges that they have what it takes to one day become a professional ballet dancer.
“I don’t lie to the girls, it’s a little intense,” says Kathryn Jacques, Rage Box’s YAGP liaison and ballet instructor. “As much as I want this to be a fun, educational experience for the dancers to individually grow and improve, it’s not without the cliché blood, sweat and tears. But they understand this is all part of moving one step closer to their dream. When I see them on that stage, knowing how hard they’ve worked to overcome difficult steps or a bad injury or even their own self-doubts, it always makes me tear up a little because they look absolutely beautiful. They inspire me every day.”
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to our more serious ballet students,” says Karen Muccioli, Director of the Rage Box Dance Center. “While Rage Box has historically been known for its contemporary work, our students have developed a strong technical base in classical ballet, allowing them to accomplish anything in the dance world.”
And the hope is that one of those accomplishments will be success at the 2016 YAGP competition. Best of luck to these amazing and hard working young ladies!
2016 Rage Box YAGP competitors: Abby Cardella (11), Mikayla Cardella (8), Ava Conaway (9), Taylor Curry (12), Jillian Hanover (9), Abby Hartlieb (12), Sarah Jump (11), Madison Kelly (12), Courtney Lisiewski (9), Katelyn O’Connor (13), Maddie Ramos (12)