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Youth America Grand Prix 2016

Feburary 6th, 7th & 8th was spent in Pittsburg with 6 very dedicated students, two school directors, and a loyal following of supportive parents...we went to, hold your breath....a COMPETITION. Something that I am widely known for being against. And quite honestly, I am heavily against competitions for many reasons. When I gather the strength I shall Blog about that later...but for now I will celebrate the awesomeness of the students and families I spent the weekend with.

And for anyone that doesn't is some Grand Prix history to give you an understanding as to why it is an exception to the "no competition" rule we have here at 4th Avenue Arts...

"Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) is the world’s largest and one of the most prestigious international ballet competitions. It is also a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The mission of YAGP is to provide educational and professional opportunities to young dancers, acting as a stepping stone to a professional dance career by offering scholarships or job opportunities to young dancers ages 9 to 19. Each year there are over 5,000 participants competing for elite scholarships. The regional competitions are conducted in 12 cities in the US and in 5 international locations. Selected students from these competitions are invited to New York City to participate at the YAGP Finals. YAGP offers dance students the opportunity to be seen, taught and professionally guided by the directors and faculty of the world’s foremost companies and schools, including: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Australian Ballet School, Canada’s National Ballet School and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, John Cranko School of Stuttgart Ballet (Germany), La Scala Ballet Academy (Italy), Paris Opera Ballet, and The Royal Ballet School (England), and the Rock School for Dance Education among others."

Some of Youth America Grand Prix Significant Achivements:

- YAGP established the Emerging Choreographer Series to provide an opportunity for upcoming young choreographers to present their work to the international dance community. The choreographers showcased in the series have recently included Marcelo Gomes, Adam Hougland, Camille A. Brown, Susan Jaffe and Justin Peck among others. - YAGP has awarded over $2,000,000 USD in scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools. Over 25,000 dancers worldwide have participated in YAGP’s international workshops, competitions, and audition classes. - In 2007 Youth America Grand Prix became the first organization in the 50-year history of Italy’s prestigious Spoleto Dance Festival to present performances by dance students.

So....even if you don't know anything at all about the dance world you probably have an inkling that all of the above things are...good things for students to reach for. The philiophosy at 4th Avenue Arts has always and will always be about the process, not the product. If the process can involve a chance for further education, a chance for schlorships, exposure to some of the top talent in the field....then by all means we will incoorporate that into our process. Sometimes I think the public (at least the public in my surrounding area) gets confused when I say I am not concerned with the "product". What I mean by that is I am extrememly interested in a students technique training, the progress, their life, and how to support them along their path. I will never be concerned with "tricks", learning choreography over technique, etc. There is not a trophy for everyone. Grand Prix will not be suitable for everyone. Part of my path is to listen and provide those outlets as they are needed.

With all that being said....I am so proud of the students who performed and took classes at the 2016 Grand Prix! My favorite memories this year include seeing Hunter Morrison compete in his first solo competition, hearing Karrah Parsons lead the dancers in prayer backstage before the group competition, seeing Elora Spradlin make sure everyone had a smile on their face throughout the day, being thankful for Sarah Johnson as she checked in with Hunter to keep his energy up during his third performance of the day, seeing the leadership in Isabella Burcham for keeping everyone on task with reviewing choreography, and for Mary Katherine Michael for not only openly sharing her bobby pins and hairspray with everyone...but her contagious love and energy.

Congratulations on a wonderful weekend back to training :)

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