The world of fashion has Anna Wintour, the ballet world has Larissa Saveliev, artistic director at the Youth Ameria Grand Prix. As it goes by the YAGP, founded in 1999, the YAGP has become a force to be reckoned with. The YAGP starts with thousands upon thousands of students competing at the semi finals all around the world, and narrows down to a select few hundred for the finals. The finals happen in NYC and stretch on for about ten days. Over the ten days they take master classes and workshops from the world’s best teachers, artistic directors and dancers. From there a select few are chosen for the final round and perform at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
I was super lucky enough to talk to Larissa about the YAGP. Not only is her job to pull off the YAGP, but her main concern and constant focus are the nurturing of each young dancer, and understanding how she can help that dancer succeed. She doesn’t just see the number, but the child. She knows each kid personally, and she does her best to help each and every one. It’s a big deal. She is nurturing each child and helping them get connected to the right school or company.
The new wave of the competition: Boys… The young boys and young men at the YAGP are dominating the YAGP. More and more boys are becoming present at the YAGP and pushing towards the front of the competition.
As she nurtures kids, the YAGP is dictating technique, new takes on variations and pushing towards the front of the ballet trend. Ms. Saveliev sees herself as the step in between company directors and students. She has so much access to directors and the ability to help kids, that she doesn’t want the competition to become commercial. She wants to keep the nurturing personal level of helping kids follow their dreams.
“We want to keep helping improving the education in ballet.”
Even if kids can’t make it to New York, the kids still have connections to her and she does her best to stay in contact with them. “Don’t give up and pursue your dream. You can get rejected multiple times, but it takes one person to say yes and you can become successful.” And the proof is in the pudding. The list of the YAGP alumnae grows and grows each year. And each year alumnae come back to support the YAGP and the future generation of ballet. Tonight’s audience at the Gala included dozens of YAGP superstars who are now at major companies.
So, what is Larissa doing after the YAGP? Staying home and watching TV on the couch for a week! A well-deserved position for a woman who is juggling hundreds of kids, thousands of parents and coaches, teachers, artistic directors, venue coordinators and more.