BWW Review: Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Takes Lincoln Center, April 19, 2019, David Koch Theater.
Ballet Stars of today, and many of tomorrow's talented hopefuls, performed at YAGP's anniversary gala, Founded in 1999 by Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, it is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Many of today's most prominent ballet performers first began their careers here.
Opening the program was the Grand Defile, choreographed by Carlos Dos Santos Jr., a traditional piece d'occasion for more than 300 YAGP participants. These young dancers demonstrated their talent and their ability to work together as the most accomplished corps de ballet members. Bravo!
There were many student performances, followed by many professional contributions. I am happy to mention some of the stand-outs: Harold Mendez, 17 (Cuba), beautifully danced a variation from Diana and Acteon; Joao Vitor Percilio Da Silva, 15 (Brazil), demonstrated more than an admirable technique performing Sinergia; and 14-year-old Abra Geiger (USA) was remarkable dancing a contemporary piece, Revealed.
Before the first professional work, Porte Rouge, choreographed by Melanie Hamrick (both a YAGP alumni and a member of American Ballet Theatre [ABT]), a familiar voice came over the loudspeaker. It was Mick Jagger, who had orchestrated music of the Rolling Stones for this ballet, introducing it. The dancers who performed were Skylar Brandt, Herman Cornejo, Thomas Forster, Sung Woo Han, Calvin Royal III, and Christine Shevchenko of ABT, as well as Daniel Ulbricht of New York City Ballet (NYCB). They danced on a stage lit with spotlights from above and piped in smoke, which was not over-done.
Derek Dunn (Boston Ballet) and Juliano Nunes (Royal Ballet of Flanders) danced an impressive duo, Nothing Left, choreographed by Nunes to the music of Karen LeFrak. It was engaging, tasteful, and well-executed.
Closing the first half was Manon, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan. Danced by ABT principal dancers, Hee Seo and Cory Stearns; this is an excellent vehicle for Hee's talents. Her soft, elegant personality lends itself very well to this excerpt from this story ballet.
Opening the second act were more gifted children. An exceptional boy, Gabriel Figueredo, 18 (Germany), performed Chroma, a contemporary solo. He was not only flexible and technically solid--his performance was emotionally generous.
My favorite of the evening was Lucia Lacarra and Josue Ullate (Victor Ullate Ballet) in Pas De Deux from Carmen, choreographed by Victor Ullate, music by George Bizet. Lacarra is a stunning ballerina whose very fiber is completely invested in her performance. Remembering her brilliance from past performances, I was excited to see her again. She went beyond my expectations. Breathtaking!
In The Middle Somewhat Elevated, choreographed by William Forsythe to the music of Thom Willems, was danced by the long, lithe Ekaterina Kondaurova and Konstantin Zverev (Mariinsky Ballet).
Michael Fokine's Dying Swan, music by Camille Saint-Saens and performed by Micah McLaurin, was unusual in that there were two swans on stage. Ballerina Olga Smirnova (Bolshoi Ballet) was joined onstage by Calvin Royal III (ABT), wearing white tights. They danced separately while making a connection with each other occasionally.
Closing the performance was Don Q Jubilee, choreography by Marius Petipa to the always danceable music of Ludwig Minkus. Dancers, most of whom we had seen previously in this Gala, performed: Skylar Brandt, Tyler Donatelli, Derek Dunn, Kimin Kim, Rebecca King, Hee Seo, Christine Shevchenko, Cory Stearns, and Katherine Williams. A high energy ballet to conclude a high energy gala was a good choice. The audience left in high spirits.
Photo credit: with permission of YAGP