by Jessica Wilson
The Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) was formed in 2000 as a non-profit educational organization in order to support and develop world-class dancers from the ages 9 to 19, of all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.
YAGP aims to provide educational opportunities and scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools for young dancers as a global network of resources and opportunities which connect students, teachers, schools and dance companies. YAGP is known for providing students with top-quality education and training from the directors and faculties of some of the world’s foremost companies, such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet, among others. As a result, YAGP refers to itself as the “internet of the dance world”, working to maintain and extend the dance network of the United States, and provide a multitude of prospects for the next generation of dancers.
Each year, YAGP conducts 12 regional semi-finals competitions throughout the US, and an additional 4 international competitions in Brazil, Mexico, France and Japan, considerably extending the reach of YAGP. Each season culminates in a week-long ‘New York City Finals’, in which over 1,000 of the world’s most promising dancers compete for scholarships and professional job contracts offered by YAGP. The dancers are renowned for representing 30 different countries on 5 continents, emphasising the sheer expanse of YAGP in the dance world, and just how prestigious the organisation has become since its inception.
The close of the competition is marked by the “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” Gala, which features the leading performers of the competition, along with the stars of today’s leading dance companies. The annual “Legends in Dance” Gala, in addition, educates audiences and dancers alike, honouring an esteemed contributor to the dance field, with acclaims from critics such as the late Clive Barnes of the New York Post, Francis Mason of the New York Times radio, and Emma Manning of Dance Europe magazine.
It is clear that the YAGP is one of the most celebrated and influential dance competitions in the US, presenting young American dancers with the potential to truly succeed in their dance careers with a fantastic opportunity in their first steps towards achieving their dance dreams.
In just 13 short years, YAGP has become the largest student ballet scholarship competition in the world; the number of participating students, teachers, dance schools, and companies exceeds all others with great cultural and ethnic diversity. Over 20,000 dancers worldwide have participated in YAGP’s international workshops, competitions, and audition classes, and over $2 million in scholarships have been awarded at YAGP competitions.
Outstandingly, over 250 YAGP alumni are dancing with over 50 companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, demonstrating how profound YAGP’s influence is, leading the way for the American dance sector. To follow the competition, or learn more about this organisation, visit their website.
Assistant Editor Jessica Wilson is a final year student at Middlesex university in London, studying Dance Performance. Jessica reviews London shows for the Society of London Theatre’s initiative for 16-25 year olds, TheatreFix, writes features for A Younger Theatre and blogs for Cloud Dance Festival, with additional press responsibilities. She has completed many marketing internships, the most recent at English National Ballet.
Jessica has also previously interned for SOLT, East London Dance and the ISTD dance examination board. Jessica is a National Youth Dance Ambassador for Youth Dance England, focusing on young people’s access to dance. She is extremely passionate about opportunities for young people enabling them to succeed and hopes to continue advocating this in the future through a variety of means.