What did all the senior women of YAGP final round have in common? They were stunning, the majority were tall, they all could jump and they all were dancing for their lives. Most years, I would have to say, that the men in the senior competition dominate the competition, but this year hands down, it went to the senior ladies. While the junior women have a few years ahead of them and more chances; for these women, tonight was the night and this was it. For the girls at Kirov academy, their school is closing and coming to an end, for those 17 and up, they are hoping for a job. For some of these girls, COVID-19 took away multiple chances to network and be seen, and so tonight was the night they needed to secure a spot at a top school, because of the limiting opportunities.
But what was the problem with final round? Most of the girls and boys have already been committed and signed to either a school or company. This year’s final round was full of Prix candidates who competed in February this year and locked in their offers then, so they went on stage and danced their hearts out, takings risks; like competing a new variation, or deviating from their first round. While some might feel that they took chances away from other girls, the prix candidates were clear. They all danced beautifully, and they are tenaciously pursing their dreams.
On a positive note: the diversity and representation included amongst the seniors was impressive. It reminds us that ballet is slowly changing and that there is an entire generation of talented dancers of color coming up.
A standout Saela Rivera-Martinez (16), the Prix de Lausanne candidate from the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, the girl was close to flawless – face, body, jump. Legs, feet, turnout, and more; all presented very well in the Cuban style coaching of Gamzatti. But she was not the only standout of the evening.
The technical feat of Master Ballet Academy‘s Prix candidate Maya Schonbron (17) took home the prize. Not only did she pull of her impressive en dedans to en dehors Italian fouettés, but she pulled off five pirouettes like it was nothing.
While all of the girls were graceful and lovely, the youngest female of the night was probably the most elegant. Last year’s junior winner, Natalie Steele (15), from Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy, came out with second act Aurora and was the most lovely way to start the evening.
Another standout was NiGiri Yoshimoto (15) from Acri Hormioto Ballet Academy of Japan. Her version of Esmeralda was killer fast, extremely sharp, and artistically snappy.
Other girls of note for the evening: Aurora Chinchilla (15) did the full sugar plum, meaning the extra long coda. Brooklyn Brizendine (16) did an exceptionally fast version of cupid. Chloe Han (16) pulled of a stunning version of Satanella. Anna Inchausti gave us a very fun and flirty version of Kitri.
The men of the evening were nice, but there wasn’t that much to report on. It was the year of Flames of Paris, Paquita, and Diana & Acteon. The costumes for men have improved a lot over the last ten years, but the men’s costume of the night goes to Korean HoYeon Kim (15) from Sunhwa Arts High School. The blue Coppelia costume was stunning and hew as fantastically clean.
Carson Wiley (15), from Alliance Academy of dance slayed Flames of Paris with flexibility and turns. While Zander Magolnick (16), Elite Classical Coaching, slayed Flames with triple tours. Other stand outs of the night: Alexander Alvarez Silvestre (18), Hibiki Tsukamoto (18), Ethan Maas (16).
Senior Grand Prix: I honestly don’t know if they will pick one.
Photos by Star Action Shots.