AND THE CROWD GOES CRAZY…

The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ the David H. Koch Theater @ Lincoln Center

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Any evening at Lincoln Center always promises to be a success and enjoyable for the mature ballet goer. But, tonight was different as hundreds of young ballet dancers flocked to the fountain with the anticipation of what was to come. Tonight, the Youth America Grand Prix hosted a beautiful gala honoring their lifetime achievement honoree Bruce Marks, the pure talent of top performers from the Prix, and professionals from all around the world. Dozens of professional dance icons glided across the marble floors at Lincoln Center to support their colleagues, young dancers, and the talented and forever a part of ballet history Bruce Marks. By the time the audience sat and the house lights dimmed, the sold-out house was ready for ballet.The energy was different from other nights at theater. It was young, it was hopeful, it was exciting. As the lights dimmed, dozens of screams from the third and fourth ring poured into Lincoln Center, the anticipation was bursting, and it led to a spectacular evening of ballet.

 

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Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

It opened with a male pre-competitor, Brady Farrar doing the variation from Talisman that was pretty awesome. Followed by the pas de deux from Coppellia from Master’s Juniors featuring Avery Gay. Classical Dance Academy performed a competitive ensemble piece titled Existence that involved a glowing pink parachute. Junior division’s Takumi Miyaki performed the male variation from Swan Lake. This was followed by a contemporary solo from Jan Spunda titled “Swan” which was a male take on Dying Swan. A senior from Korea redid her variation from Raymonda. Tara from Portugal performed a contemporary solo in a skirt. Maddison Penny blew the audience away with her variation of Esmeralda and Taro Kurachi blew everyone over again with his Don Q variation. This was followed by the Grand Défilé with choreography by YAGP resident choreographer Carlos do Santos, Jr that included 300 YAGP participants from 30 countries. It rivaled many corps de ballets from major companies. It was just legs for days and clean technique. Arms that are too short for their bodies because of their ages, but beautifully proportioned bodies.
YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

The night then honored Bruce Marks. The talented and beautiful Nina Ananiashvili presented the award. His acceptance speech was funny, heartfelt and inspiring. Then it just got long a political, but he is Bruce Marks and 80, so let the man do his thing.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

ACT II brought the roaring applause. The second half of the program opened with Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro performing Wheeldon’s Pas De Deux from Carousel. It was a very cute pas de deux but completely out of text from the Carousel Suite… Without the entire ballet the pas de deux is kind of boring. They were not boring, as I adore Tiler Peck. He was nice, but

James Whiteside then performed in place of Xander Parish in a solo by Marcelo Gomes. James Whiteside is beyond beautiful, the problem with this solo was that it was not thought out well. It seemed very disjointed and lacked the interesting factor.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of TomorrowBrittany O’Connor and Paul Barris performed a very sexy ballroom number involving one pointe shoe and a backless sequin dress with a live music ensemble. She had legs and body for days… Like for days. So between ballroom steps and ballet steps, the sexy duo performed with intricate lifts and spiraling whip arounds. Photo courtesy of the YAGP by VAM.

 

Skyler Brandt and Gabe Stone Sayer performed the always crowd pleasing pas de deux from Spring Waters. Both are now at ABT and both former YAGP finalists. He was charismatic, and she as full of energy like always. Skyler Brandt is truly turning into ballet’s sweat heart, and there is a clear reason: she is adorable. Her big eyes, all American body type, a smile that’s worth a million dollars and she’s clean.

Svetlana Lukina and Evan McKie performed David Dawson’s new Swan Lake Pas De Deux. In this minimal costuming, and contemporary take, the White Swan has total control and is almost enticing. She is mesmerizing and this was probably the most interesting piece of the night. For the mature balletomane, this probably was the jewel of the evening, but for the kids and this young audience, it wasn’t enough… But what came at the end truly was what the audience craved…

Ian Spring performed the always popular David Parson’s Caught. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a very cool strobe hiding the in-between steps and only what Mr. Parson’s wants you to see. Like a series of photographs. I have now seen Angel Corella do it and it was awful but the audience liked him and Glen Simmons from Ailey which was spectacular. Ian Spring brought a very fun and very lively take to it which I enjoyed a lot. Plus, the kids were going crazy over it.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

 

 

Goddess Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino performed Light Rain by Gerald Arpino. The choreography was dated, but it showcased Ms. Lacarra’s impeccable legs and feet and the fact that she has no hips. It was purely all about flexibility.

The night was then stolen by Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (baby daddy status) from English National Ballet. They performed the pas de deux from Le Corsaire which ENB just did. It was so impressive. He was so impressive. From his ENB’s emerging artist performance to skyrocketing through the company, Cesar Corrales might just be ballet next Roberto Bolle. With the exception that he turns with his shoulders up. Tamara Rojo was beyond marvelous. Her technique was spotless and her triple fouettes were quite impressive as they came with ease. The audience adored them. Ovations galore, as they deserved it.

It was a great and exciting night as the young ballet bunheads of tomorrow screamed with admiration. It was a great, beautiful and crazy night. A night where young ballet hopefuls became even more inspired by ballet legends and royalty.

 


Thank you to all of my sponsors who helped me go cover the YAGP FINALS in NYC.

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English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2016

A social commentary on ENB’s Emerging dance program… So I am watching ENB’s Emerging Dance LIVE… and I am not trying to say I told you so again, but I am totally saying I told you so again… Rina and Cesar killed that sh!t…

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Okay, so the live streaming worked great for me, no problems, but I know whenever I am going to live stream I plug in my ethernet able and don’t rely on wifi… Mmmm so six talented dancers selected by their colleagues competed this year: Isabelle Brouwers, Cesar Corrales, Rina Kanehara, Jeanette Kakareka, Daniele Silingardi, and Erik Woolhouse.
Three grand pas de deuxs were selected: Talisman, Black Swan and Diane and Acteon. Then it began…

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Isabelle Brouwers and Erik Whoolhouse took on Talisman…
It is hard going first in a competition, no one wants to but someone has to do it. Unfortunately for these young two dancers, nerves got the best of them in the pas, and caused the variations to be safe and complacent. And by the end of the coda, he was tired and couldn’t do the full press lift… Which I totally get… It is exhausting, and you probably didn’t sleep well the night before… Nerves. Pacing yourself… it all plays into a factor.

Then Jeanette Kakareka and Daniele Silingardi took on Black Swan…
The pas de deux was gorgeous. Jeanette’s body makes some of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen. Her body makes lines that rival Svetlana Zakarhova’s. No joke. The pas de deux was enticing, and sensual. Then I think nerves got to Mr. Silingardi in his variation causing his turns to be off, and a lot of falling out. Her variation was gorgeous, and luscious but lacked a lot of audience connection. The coda, he became more unstable, but she rocked it out. I don’t know how she turns with those feet, that hyperextension and hypermobility… she must do some serious pilates or something.

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Finally, Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales performed Diane and Acteon…
And they freakin slayed. From her opening emboîtés… to his extremely sound partnering skills… She was 10 times better than at the prix (2015), and 1000 times more than at the YAGP… Like no joke, stunning. She is also the youngest member at ENB. HE freaking nailed the variation to a point that was insane. His turns are super powerful, and clean… It was insane. His performance quality, and bravura really did outshow the other to male competitors…
She became a little off in the turns but covered it so well, and was so precise with EVERYTHING! Like she no joke had the best audience connection and playfulness, her dynamic is just so incredible. LIKE everything….. Her fouettés on the diagonal… with that crazy arm change… fierce. His turns and jumps… baby daddy status… okay he is also extremely handsome. His variation was insane with the series of jumps he did, but his coda was EVERYTHING.

Then the contemporary solos started for the night:
Mr. Whoolhouse performed Eros Redux by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa- danced so much better… soooooo nice and relaxed, his body is really interesting when moving contemporary… his arms and legs are so long and fluid. I’ve noticed a lot of the men of ENB have these extremely elongated bodies that are really interesting to watch.
Isabelle Brouwers took on a new work by Charlotte Edmonds- did not like this piece what so ever… and the unitard was … yucky
Daniele Silingardi took on Spring and Fall by John Neumeier, he danced so lovely… so pleasant and carefree it was nice. A really nice redeeming moment.
Jeanette Kakareka took on Requiem for a Rose by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.This is a very hard variation/solo for anyone, so I don’t know how smart it was for a young dancer to take it on… She did a great job though… really interesting take on it.
Cesar Corrales took on Congrabajo para Hombre by Julio Lopez with music by Astor Piazzolla (one of my favorite composers) danced gorgeously, manly, body for days, and I think he connected to it well.
Rina Kanehara took on Les Ballet’s de Monte-Carlo’s Black Swan by Jean-Christophe Maillot. It is to the black swan music but contemporary… it was definitely cute and dynamic buuuuut she could have taken on something with more depth like the others…

It is now intermission while the judges decide… and now I am going to talk about what happened in the chat room, that corresponded with it… SanFranBallet made a comment about it being a sporting event and that we shouldn’t critique dancers blow by blow and enjoy them… Which is totally fair…. but this is a competition streamed worldwide, and everyone is looking at these dancers for principal potential, dynamic dancing and a source of inspiration… So, when it comes to competitions, if there are technical flaws…. yes, they are easy to point out and spectators, myself included, come down hard on the dancer… Ironically, being inconsistent as a performer causes a company to not renew a contract… so… I dunno…  Other power players showed up to online chat, USC’s new Kaufman dance program showed up. — Daria Klimentova, former principal at ENB showed up, which she retired to the same Romeo and Juliet PDD performed below. Sara Murawski from Slovak National Ballet showed up online among others.

Then the program concluded with Laurretta Summerscales* and Max Westwell , people’s favorite* from last year who is now a Principal… They danced Romeo and Juliet PDD which was gorgeous, and refreshing because they don’t do the MacMillan version they do Nureyev’s… And I am just gunna say, that she didn’t win the competition but is now a Principal dancer… It isn’t always about winning, but experience and consistency and it showed here tonight… how much a dancer grows… changes… and can accomplish in a year. Her performance tonight was stunning and breathtaking and her dancing has changed drastically. A good Juliet dances as if she is in love, reckless and all consumed at the same time…
Then Jinhao Zhang** performed Corsaire’s Pas D’esclave who won last year’s emerging artist** with Shiori Kase. The partnering was gorgeous, and he has grown a lot as a dancer and a partner as well…. and he’s a freakin tall Asian…. 🙂 Ummm the costuming was kind of ugly but the choreo was great, and they danced so beautifully together… it was just distracting to see that ugliness… but the dancing is sooo stunning, I guess it doesn’t matter.

The Corps de Ballet Award went to: Jennie Harrington
People’s Choice Award: Cesar Corrales
And the Emerging Dancer Award 2016 went to Cesar Corrales
So, the super fierce Cesar won, which means he will be either promoted very soon, or he will change companies… Who knows… Just another star to follow in the universe of ballet… We shall see…