Youth America Grand Prix – World’s Largest Ballet Scholarship Competition

Chloe Misseldine

Photo Credit: Darian Volkova

The world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition – YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX (YAGP) – returned to Lincoln Center, New York City for the first time since before the covid pandemic to present its 2023 Stars of Today Meets the Stars of Tomorrow Gala. Supporters were welcomed back by YAGP Founder Larissa Saveliev and Board Chair Richard Osterweil as well as hosts Paul Arnhold, Elissa Brenner, Lili Buffett, Grace Fuller Marroquin, Wes Gordon, Alyson Gradone, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, Sarah Hoover, Lilli Hymowitz, Marcella Hymowitz, Eve Jobs, Lindsay Kraus, Candice Miller, Colby Mugrabi, Grace Pomeranc, Indre Rockefeller, Daniela Tisch, Virginia W. Tomenson, Lesley Vecsler, and Lina Wallach.

YAGP Board Member and Gala Host, Marcella Hymowitz, shared, “Sometimes dance can LITERALLY save lives. Since February 2021, Youth America Grand Prix has worked tirelessly to find new dance homes for Ukrainian students displaced by war. One of them – 16-year-old Nikita Malaki – performed here at Lincoln Center tonight. Nikita is one of 200 Ukrainian dancers whom YAGP placed on scholarship at leading dance schools in Europe and the United States – giving them a chance to continue living and practicing their art in safety. YAGP wishes a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, whose generous support has made it possible for YAGP to continue doing this important work.” 16-year-old Nikita now trains at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. He performed Gounod Duet with schoolmate Jade Conner.

Samantha Pariente, Lindsay Friedland, Lesley Vecsler, Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, Alyson Gradone, and Colleen Crivello

Photo Credit: BFA Ben Rosser

Guests include YAGP Board Members John Beukelman, Barbara Brandt, Sergey Gordeev, Gabriel Hoffman, Carrie and Jonathan Kaufman, Kamie Lightburn, as well as Kara Acker, Maria Cristina Anzola, Sarah Arison, Mollie Acquavella, Ashley Bouder, J Alex Brinson, Linda and Martin Fell, Amy Fine Collins, Luiza and Steve Gold, Judith Hoffman, Breanna Khoury, Molly Knauer, Allie and Will Kopelman, Beejan Land,  Dylan Lauren, Allie Meixner, Andrew Martin-Weber, Michaela Moinian, Alberto Mugrabi, Wendi Murdoch, Taylor Olson, Samantha Pariente, Karine Plantadit, Jason Pomeranc, Scott Sartiano, Mariel Sholem, Gabe Stone Shayer, Allyson Tang, Barbara Tober, Tal Waksal, Yael and Oded Weiss, Hal Witt, and Christian Zimmermann.

Wes Gordon, Indre Rockefeller, and Paul Arnhold

Photo Credit: BFA Bre Johnson

The Gala kicked off YAGP’s 25th Anniversary season, with a program that featured the World Premiere of Reflective Response #1, danced by Michaela Mabinty DePrince*, choreographed by My’Kal Stromile, both from Boston Ballet. Accompanying the piece was 15-year-old prodigy singer Paloma Dineli Chesky and Grammy Award-nominated pianist David Chesky, performing live.

Jacopo Tissi (La Scala Ballet) danced the U.S. Premiere of a solo excerpt from the ballet, The Ninth Wave, choreographed by Bryan Arias. Tissi also danced Le Corsaire Act II pas de deux with Christine Shevchenko* (American Ballet Theatre). Jun Masuda* (Tulsa Ballet) and Shale Wagman* (Bavarian State Ballet, New York debut), danced the U.S. Premiere of Hungarian Dances, and Wagman joined Evelina Godunova (Berlin State Ballet, New York debut) for a pas de deux from Flames of Paris. Tiler Peck (New York City Ballet) and Roman Mejia (New York City Ballet) performed a pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Tarantella, Constantine Allen* (Dutch National Ballet) performed 5 Tango’s choreographed by the legendary Hans van Manen, and Chloe Misseldine* (American Ballet Theatre) performed William Tell. Claudia Mota and Allen performed the iconic pas de deux from Le Parc by Angelin Prejlocaj.

Photo Credit: LK Studio and Jennifer Curry Wingrove

Israeli choreographers Ohad Naharin and Sharon Eyal presented rarely-seen works performed by YAGP International Contemporary Dance Ensemble (ICE), made up of 35 dancers, spanning 15 countries. Dancers from around the world auditioned for ICE, then flew to Israel in December 2022 to rehearse with the ballet masters. 18 dancers from the ensemble performed excerpts from OCD Love and Decadance at the Gala.

Sharing a stage with these ballet superstars were YAGP’s 2023 competition winners (stars of tomorrow), dancing contemporary and classical ballet favorites. These talented young dancers (ages 9 – 19) danced in front of top ballet school directors and company heads in hopes of scholarships and job opportunities.

Morgan Ligon and Keenan Mentzos

Photo Credit: LK Studio and Jennifer Curry Wingrove

This season over 15,000 talented young dancers auditioned for YAGP around the globe and in 23 U.S. cities. At the Finals, YAGP awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to 300+ dancers to attend over 40 of the best dance institutions across the globe! In addition to scholarships, more than 30 YAGP participants have already received professional contract offers, with more to come in the weeks following the competition.