Beck Center Ballerinas Rated Top 12 in National Ballet Competition

A group of eight talented dancers from Beck Center for the Art's Dance Education program traveled to Chicago January 18 through 20, 2013 to participate in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world's largest student ballet competition, and proudly came home with top honors.

Beck Center is pleased to announce the dancers' ensemble performance entitled "Phantom of the Opera" ranked in the Top 12 for ensembles. The group included Ali Cassidy, Bethany Comienski, Taylor Gerrasch, Julia Horner, Ciara McGlynn, Julia Parrish, Abby Schneider, and Becky Steffen. Beck Center dancers competed against students from such acclaimed ballet schools as The Joffrey Academy of Dance (the official school of the Joffrey Ballet), Interlochen Arts Academy, and Milwaukee Ballet School.

In addition, Julia Horner, 17, who has studied dance at Beck Center since age seven, placed in the Top 12 in the women's solo category for both her contemporary performance entitled "Revel in the Moment" and her classical piece, a variation from "The Talisman." This is the first time a Beck Center solo dancer has been awarded this prestigious prize. Ms. Horner has attended the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive in Detroit and received a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet Intensive in New York City last summer. She plans to continue her dance studies in college next year, and has been offered a dance scholarship to Mercyhurst University which offers one of the nation's top ballet programs.

"The YAGP offers our advanced ballet students the opportunity to compete alongside top Midwest dance training institutions, receive feedback from noted adjudicators, and take classes with highly sought after master teachers from companies around the world," said Melanie Szucs, Beck Center's associate director of Dance Education. "The results were the 'icing on the cake' for our students and confirm the excellent training they are receiving from Beck Center faculty."

During this exciting weekend of competition, Beck Center students also had the amazing opportunity to attend master classes with several esteemed dance instructors including Keith Roberts, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre; Claire Baulieu, Paris Opera Ballet; Ethan Brown, American Ballet Theatre; and Anna Liceica, New York City Ballet. All eight dancers, accompanied by their proud parents, came home tired, but very happy.

Youth America Grand Prix is the world's largest student ballet scholarship competition that awards over $250,000 annually in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. The competition is held annually around the world and in New York City, and is open to dance students of all nationalities 9 to 19 years old. Launched in 1999 by two former dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, YAGP is also a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization created with a mission to provide extraordinary educational and professional opportunities to young dancers, acting as a stepping stone to a professional dance career. For more information, visit

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