YAGP Preview: Two Galas and a Final Final

Jerry Hochman

As you may already be aware, Youth America Grand Prix (“YAGP”) will be returning to Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater this year to further celebrate its 25th Anniversary year. This year there will be two celebratory Galas, on April 18 and 19, 2024, as well as the New York Finals (affectionately known as the Final Finals) on April 17. The anticipated line-up for the two Galas has just been released, which I’ll summarize below.

Kimin Kim at YAGP 2012
Photo by Liza Voll

For those not familiar with it, YAGP is the largest global network of dance. Since its founding in 1999 by Larissa Savaliev (who emigrated to the U.S. after having trained at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy), YAGP’s mission has been to educate and provide contact opportunities for young dancers – ages 9 to 19 – of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to connect with prestigious ballet schools worldwide through instruction, scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, and performances. Over $5 million has been awarded in scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools, with up to $500,000 now awarded annually.

To date, over its 25 years of programming, more than 250,000 young dancers have participated in YAGP’s program of international workshops, audition classes, and dance awareness events.; currently, more than 15,000 young dancers audition annually. 450 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 80 professional companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and many others. Over 100 of these alumni are Soloists and Principal Dancers.

Chloe Misseldine
Photo by Youn Sik Kim

As I’ve written many times before, medaling is not YAGP’s purpose or its goal – while not insignificant, its importance is the additional opportunities the events provide for contacts and scholarship opportunities. An additional benefit from all this that I’ve observed over the years is that YAGP is at least equally important for the friendships and lifelong associations that the program enables.

YAGP’s 25th Anniversary Gala program on April 18  features two World Premieres; one by James Whiteside with American Ballet Theatre’s Isabella Boylston, Catherine Hurlin, and Jake Roxander, and live accompaniment by pianist Matthew Whitaker; a second World Premiere by Maria Konrad, with Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s Adji Cissoko and English National Ballet’s Vsevolod Maievskyi, with music by Karen LeFrak. And Stuttgart Ballet’s Elisa Badenes, Mackenzie Brown, and Gabriel Figueredo will make their professional New York stage debuts, as will Mariinsky Ballet’s May Nagahisa and Paris Opera Ballet’s Bianca Scudamore.

An elegant Gala dinner will follow the performance program.

May Nagahisa
Photo by Darian Volkova

YAGP’s April 19th Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow “Best of 25 Years” Program (which may include young dances who have medaled in the April 17th New York Finals) features classical, neoclassical, and contemporary masterpieces from 25 years of YAGP performances – from Don Quixote to Lady of the Camellias – as well as a World Premiere by choreographer Joshua Beamish with former San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Benjamin Freemantle, Philadelphia Ballet’s Sterling Baca, The Royal Ballet’s Melissa Hamilton, ABT’s Betsy McBride and SunMi Park, and English National Ballet’s Vsevolod Maievskyi, with music from Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. Another World Premiere will be choreographed by Mexican choreographer Julietta Martinez, featuring dancers from the graduating classes of the world’s 4 leading dance academies: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre (USA), Princess Grace Academy (Monaco), John Cranko School of Stuttgart Ballet (Germany), and Zurich Dance Academy (Switzerland).

Brady Farrar
Photo by Darian Volkova

The Full Cast (many of whom I remember vividly from their performances in prior YAGP New York Finals), includes: Adji Cissoko* (who I highlighted in a recent review of Alonzo King LINES Ballet, before I knew she’d be participating in this program); Elisabeth Beyer, Skylar Brandt, Isabella Boylston, Daniel Camargo, Catherine Hurlin, Betsy McBride, Chloe Misseldine, SunMi Park, Jake Roxander, and Calvin Royal III (all with American Ballet Theatre); Brady Farrar (ABT Studio Company); Antonio Casalinho (Bavarian State Ballet); Constantine Allen (Dutch National Ballet); Vsevolod Maievskyi (English National Ballet) Benjamin Freemantle*(International Principal Artist); Nozomi Iijima (K Ballet Japan);  Maria Khoreva*, Kimin Kim, and May Nagahisa (all with the Mariinsky Ballet); Isabelle LaFreniere (New York City Ballet); Germain Louvet*and Bianca Scudamore (both with Paris Opera Ballet); Sterling Baca (Philadelphia Ballet), Melissa Hamilton (The Royal Ballet), and Elisa Badenes, Mackenzie Brown, Gabriel Figueredo, and Friedemann Vogel* (all with the Stuttgart Ballet). Except for those with asterisks next to their names, all are YAGP alumni – and many of the few who are not YAGP alumni have participated in prior YAGP events. My understanding is that most are expected to participate in both Galas.

As usual, casting is subject to change, so for the most current information please check the YAGP website, where you will also find ticket purchase details.