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Youth American Grand Prix Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow 2013 Gala at the David Koch Theater….

May 9, 2013
© Liza Voll Photography

Viengsay Valdes & Osiel Gouneo from the National Ballet of Cuba in Peter Quanz Double Bounce. Liza Voll Photography

The Youth American Grand Prix “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” Gala that was held April 18 at the David H. Koch Theater, it was more than just good, it was excellent. The evening was divided into two exceptional sections, the Stars of Tomorrow and then the Stars of Today.

Stars of Tomorrow opened with a very young and very talented Violinist Elli Choi who begin the evening with Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. Ms. Choi gave reason to why she is part of the Juilliard School’s Musical Protégé Series. I could not believe so much talent was packed in such a small body…..

Daichi Ikarashi, age 10 was awarded the Pre-Competitive Hope Award and performed the Variation for Don Quixote. I have seen seasoned professional dancers not do as well. He attacked his variation with a confidence that had to be admired.

Silver Medalist in the Junior Women’s Division, Maria Clara Coehlo, age 14, performed Magalenha. Choreographed by Ana Palmieri, it was a sassy Samba inspired work done en pointe. Ms. Coehlo had the audience in the palm of her hand. The performance was dazzling, a brilliant mix of Classical Ballet and Brazilian Carnival!

Jinchang Gu, age 15 preformed Disha Zhang’s My First Modern Piece and was just extraordinary. But it was not just the performance of Mr. Gu but also the choreography of Disha Zhang that must be mention. Mr. Gu came on in silence, wearing only white briefs; he begins to casually swing his body as if loosening up before a class, then quick angular movements to the floor. But it is the transitions and movement choices that create the work’s originality; they go from sharp and angular and close to the body to smooth elongated lines. Some of the shapes and positioning of limbs seemed almost insect-like. It was an outstanding performance of an equally outstanding work.

The second half of the program “Stars of Today” was a gathering of some of the most talented dancers from some the top ballet companies in the world such as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, The Bolshoi and the National Ballet of Cuba.

The U.S. Premiere of Double Bounce, choreographed by Peter Quanz was a great success. This is a whimsical contemporary work fully utilizing the classical vocabulary. Set to the fast paced score of David Lang, the work lives up to its name. Wearing a thin and very flexible white tutu with large black dots, Viengsay Valdes was seldom still. Osiel Gouneo also all in white with a single red dot over his heart follows Ms. Valdes about the stage devotedly. He is always there for her, a steady support in a topsy-turvy world. I am reminded of the complicated partnering often employed in the works of Forsythe or Kylián, a constant state of motion and exploration of space. Mr. Quanz is a choreographer of great talent and I am always excited when I have an opportunity to see any of his work.

I was just as excited to see Wayne McGregor’s Borderlands Pas de Deux performed by the San Francisco Ballet’s Maria Kochetkova and Lonnie Weeks. This Pas de Deux is filled with sculptural imagery and makes a statement that is deeply emotional. Mr. Weeks would sweep Ms. Kochetkova into his arms and then swing her almost haphazardly to the floor. As with just about every work by Wayne McGregor, Borderlands has its own unique signature of genius.

The definitive highlight of the evening was Paris Opera Ballet’s Dorothée Gilbert and ABT’s Marcelo Gomes in the Balcony Pas de Deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. It is easy to forget just how good a dancer Marcel Gomes is until you see him with other dancers just as renown as himself, for it is then that you are able to fully witness just how superb of a dancer he truly is.

© Liza Voll Photography

Paris Opera Ballet’s Dorothée Gilbert & ABT’s Marcelo Gomes in Kenneth MacMillian’s Balcony Pas de Deux from Romeo & Juliet. Liza Voll Photography

Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Gomes created a synergy that was felt by every member of the audience. His undying devotion to Juliet was without question. Ms. Gilbert moved about the stage as light as breath, her movements enchanting with every step and bourrée.

The Youth America Grand Prix was launched in 1999 by two former dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, YAGP was created with a mission to provide extraordinary educational and professional opportunities to young dancers, acting as a stepping stone to a professional dance career. Each year YAGP awards over $250,000 annually in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. Over 300 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 50 companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, among others.

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