One of the most prestigious dance competitions in the world will return to Gwinnett for a second year when the Youth America Grand Prix holds its Southeastern Semifinals at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center Feb. 21 through 23. Young artists from several of Gwinnett’s dance schools will be competing.
YAGP is no ordinary competition. The Grand Prix is international in scope with competitions in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Japan and Belgium. There are 14 semifinals in the U.S. from coast to coast. A major motion picture titled “First Position” was distributed to great acclaim last year, depicting the lives of young dancers aspiring to compete in the finals. This year these finals will occur in New York City in early April.
This competition focuses on the highest levels of classical ballet and contemporary disciplines for dancers between the ages of 9 and 19 divided into three categories by age. Many young artists from Gwinnett participated last year when YAGP held its Southeastern semifinal in Atlanta for the first time, with GBT’s Madison Greene and Abigrace Diprima as well as Victoria Hasek and Tamon Uruno of the Royal Dance Academy attaining the status of top 12 finalists in their respective age groups for the Southeast.
This year, at least 24 young artists from Gwinnett studios are competing. Studios responding to inquiries yielded the following list of participants, listed in alphabetical order of the studio name:
• From Buford School of Ballet, participants are Kayla Muirhead, 14 and Bridget Horrocks, 16.
• From the Academy of Ballet in Norcross — Anna Margaret Dunlap, 15, of Roswell High School, and Samantha Mia Lee, 18, of Norcross High School
There are 14 competitors from Gwinnett Ballet Theatre — Taylor Adams, 14, Grayson High School; Kaylee Boyd, 15, home schooled; Julianna Brown, 14, Brookwood High School; Abigrace Diprima, 18, Gwinnett Online; Kelli Frangoulis, 15, Brookwood High School; Hannah Freeman 14, Grayson High School; Madison Greene, 14, Brookwood high School; Sydney Haglund, 16, home schooled; Danielle Hoyle, 14, Trickum Middle School; Alex Nowell, 10, home schooled; Cameron Silas 14, Cruise Middle School; Jordan Silas, 16, Brookwood High School; Amelia Snyder, 14, St. Pius; Madeline Whitehead, 15, Grayson High School.
• From Sugarloaf Ballet are the following competitors — Alberto Andrade, 13 from Creekland Middle School; Jada Bourgeois, 13, Lanier Middle School; Charly Gioino, 16, Gwinnett Online Academy; Ava Hager, 12, Osbourne Middle School; Abigail Harrison, 16, Gwinnett Online Academy; Jane LaMay, 16, Greater Atlanta Christian; Lola O’Leary, 9, Level Creek Elementary; and Alexis Smith, 13, who is home schooled.
Now in its 15th year, YAGP has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to winning dancers since it was launched in 1999 by two former dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev.
For more information regarding Youth America Grand Prix, visit the website at www.yagp.org. For information about the competitions at Gwinnett Center and ticketing, go to www.gwinnettcenter.com.
Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at email@example.com.