Before you begin to read my opinion and experience at YAGP Tampa back in January 2018, I want to state my Opinion on Ballet Competitions. You can click on the link to read more about what I think about nowadays' ballet competitions.
We spent our winter break rehearsing for two ensembles, and the girls that were going to compete as soloists were working as hard as ever in both their classical and contemporary variations.
We did not stop: I had not been as tired as in those two weeks, probably since last April/May (with a very hard, full of stamina performance). I guess it was because the two pieces we brought were contemporary (all new to me, still practicing) and we had to re-choreograph many things.
The weekend for Youth America Grand Prix arrives, and we are ready and determined to have a great experience. It was the first YAGP I ever attended.
Tension fills every room of the theater. Both humble smiles and bad looks are mixed backstage. The audience fills up depending on the contestant, and I see the typical tables where the judges sit.
Just before going on stage with our group, I stood there, overwhelmed by the size of the stage. The beautiful Straz Center with its Morsani Hall filled me up with excitement as they announced both of our pieces. Overall, as a group and soloists, we did our best!
However, I have a huge concern.
Both when I sat down in the audience and in the wings, I asked myself the same question whenever a new entry came by, "is this what people are dancing these days for a ballet competition?"
I was shocked when I saw the contemporary and ensemble numbers. In my opinion, some participants are going away with what ballet and contemporary are, in terms of the dance forms. All I could watch were "tricks..." and probably more of lyrical-styled performances.
I compared the majority of the performances I watched during the competition with the pieces companies brought to the "Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow" Gala. I can definitely say that whatever the participants danced differed so much from what the professionals brought.
I am not saying that what the participants brought to the stage that weekend was not beautiful.
I respect every art form, and therefore, every type of dance. I just want to say that, again as I said before in my Opinion Article, I do not think ballet competitions need to be all about tricks. There are competitions for that (And they are beautiful as well!).
I cannot lie, of course. There were excellent students that performed their solos and ensembles impeccably. And it was very pleasant to see whenever they came up with beautiful costumes and their piece went just as they planned.
I was more excited about the Master Classes.
When I found out Ashley Bouder was going to teach variations, my mood went to the roof! I think it was the best way to learn Balanchine and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, with no other than a New York City Ballet Principal dancer.
Overall, you always learn something new when you attend different events. I take this first YAGP experience as a rich lesson.
Who would have thought I would go to YAGP? I never did.
But now I can say I did it.