Dancers at Marat Daukeyev Ballet School on La Brea and Wilshire are hard at work preparing for Youth America Grand Prix 2013,(YAGP) the worldwide ballet competition made famous by the award-winning 2012 documentary First Position. Dancers have been preparing all year for the semi-finals this weekend in Huntington Beach, CA. Students from MDBS are slated to enter 71 pieces: solos, pas de deux and group dances, with dancers ranging in age from 9 to 18. Most dancers compete in both classical ballet and contemporary dance. Last year there were 53 entries, out of which 13 MDSB students progressed to the finals in NYC where many of them placed. Park La Brea resident Isabella Franco won a 2nd place medal in the under 12 category.
Additionally, Andy Schermoly, MDBS’s contemporary teacher, won the Outstanding Choreography Award and MDSB won the Outstanding School Award.
Larchmont Village competitors include Isabel Murr, Mikhael Kinley-Safranoff and Matisse Love, who placed in the top 12 Women’s Junior Classical last year. Joely Maples, Judith No, Priscilla Duggen and Emma Daukayev are all competing this year for the first time.
Marat believes that competitions offer students the immediate and concrete goal of preparing a variation to perform before a panel of judges and that it is a great incentive for their advanced dancers’ growth. At YAGP they are exposed to peers from other schools, giving them a glimpse into the ballet world outside of their own. Ballet is a very demanding art form – experiencing the international dance community first hand can help students formulate realistic expectations and inspire the motivation necessary to pursue a professional career. YAGP also offers an opportunity for dancers to seen by ballet companies and schools from around the world. Scholarships and are awarded to outstanding competitors.