They were fun and fabulous, in their best evening dresses, as they flocked last night to the Alice Tully Hall for Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) 2023.
It was the Stars of Today Meets the Stars of Tomorrow Gala.
YAGP Founder Larissa Saveliev and Board Chair Richard Osterweil welcomed guests as they filled the theater. The gala chair, Marcella Hymowitz, looked stunning in pink chiffon, or as Barbara Tober, a gala veteran, put it, “she floats around the room in that dress. She’s perfect!”
Marcella was the driving force behind the evening’s success, part of every decision, including crafting (with her young daughters) the four-foot-tall spring flowers that decorated the room. In her short speech she said, “Sometimes dance can LITERALLY save lives. Since February 2021, YAGP has worked tirelessly to relocate Ukrainian ballet students displaced by war. One of them – 16-year-old Nikita Malaki – performed here at Lincoln Center tonight! Nikita is one of the 200 Ukrainian dancers whom YAGP has placed on scholarship at leading dance schools in Europe and the United States. YAGP wishes a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, whose generous support has made it possible for YAGP to continue doing this important work.”
Standing with Marcella were her co-hosts Paul Arnhold, Elissa Brenner, Lili Buffett, Grace Fuller Marroquin, Wes Gordon, Alyson Gradone, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, Sarah Hoover, Lilli Hymowitz, Marcella Hymowitz, Eve Jobs, Lindsay Kraus, Candice Miller, Colby Mugrabi, Grace Pomeranc, Indre Rockefeller, Daniela Tisch, Virginia W. Tomenson, Lesley Vecsler, and Lina Wallach.
The Gala kicked off YAGP’s 25th Anniversary season, with a program that featured the World Premiere of Reflective Response #1, danced by Michaela Mabinty DePrince*, choreographed by My’Kal Stromile, both from Boston Ballet. Accompanying the piece was 15-year-old prodigy singer Paloma Dineli Chesky and Grammy Award-nominated pianist David Chesky, performing live. Israeli choreographers, Ohad Naharin and Sharon Eyal, presented rarely seen works performed by YAGP International Contemporary Dance Ensemble (ICE), made up of 35 dancers, spanning 15 countries. An excerpt from Ohad’s Decadance invited audience participation. Dancers made their way into the audience inviting guests – including Andrew Martin-Weber – on stage to dance with them.
Guests include YAGP Board Members John Beukelman, Barbara Brandt, Sergey Gordeev, Gabriel Hoffman, Carrie and Jonathan Kaufman, Kamie Lightburn, as well as Kara Acker, Maria Cristina Anzola, Sarah Arison, Mollie Acquavella, Ashley Bouder, J Alex Brinson, Linda and Martin Fell, Amy Fine Collins, Luiza and Steve Gold, Judith Hoffman, Breanna Khoury, Molly Knauer, Allie and Will Kopelman, Beejan Land, Dylan Lauren, Allie Meixner, Andrew Martin-Weber, Michaela Moinian, Alberto Mugrabi, Wendi Murdoch, Taylor Olson, Samantha Pariente, Karine Plantadit, Jason Pomeranc, Scott Sartiano, Mariel Sholem, Gabe Stone Shayer, Allyson Tang, Barbara Tober, Tal Waksal, Yael and Oded Weiss, Hal Witt, and Christian Zimmermann.
The program included a NY solo debut from Italy’s Jacopo Tissi (La Scala Ballet) dancing the U.S. Premiere of an excerpt from, The Ninth Wave. Tissi also danced Le Corsaire Act II pas de deux with Christine Shevchenko* (ABT). Jun Masuda* (Tulsa Ballet) and Shale Wagman* (Bavarian State Ballet),danced the U.S. Premiere of Hungarian Dances, and Wagman joined Evelina Godunova (Berlin State Ballet) for a pas de deux from Flames of Paris. Tiler Peck (NYC Ballet)and Roman Mejia (New York City Ballet) performed a pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Tarantella, Constantine Allen* (Dutch National Ballet) performed 5 Tango’s, and Chloe Misseldine* (ABT) performed William Tell. Claudia Mota and Allen performed the iconic pas de deux from Le Parc by Angelin Prejlocaj.
Sharing a stage with these ballet superstars were YAGP’s 2023 competition winners (stars of tomorrow), ages 9 – 19, dancing favorites Harlequinade, Paquita, Für Elise and more. This season over 15,000 talented young dancers auditioned for YAGP around the globe and in 23 U.S. cities. At the Finals, YAGP awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to 300+ dancers to attend the world’s best dance institutions! In addition to scholarships, more than 30 YAGP participants have already received professional contract offers, with more to come in the weeks following the competition.
Youth America Grand Prix
Youth America Grand Prix is the largest global network of dance. YAGP fulfills its mission of dance education through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, performances, and education. For the past 24 years, over $4.5 million has been awarded in scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools, with up to $500,000 now awarded annually. Since YAGP’s founding in 1999, over 200,000 young dancers – ages 9 to 19 – of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds have participated in YAGP’s international workshops, audition classes, and dance awareness events. Today, more than 12,000 young dancers audition annually. More than 450 Youth America Grand Prix 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 (UK), Mariinsky Ballet and many others. Over 100 of these alumni are soloists and principal dancers. Larissa Saveliev founded Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) after training and touring with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, before moving to the United States in the early 90’s.
Photo credit: 1) Christian Zimmermann, Marilyn Kirschner, Karine Plantadit, Andre Lespierre. 2) Heather Wagman, Shale Wagman, Evelina Godunova. 3) Carlos Dos Santos, Joanna Simone, Matthew Rinklin. 4) Jason Williams, Marcella Guarino Hymowitz. 5) Marcella Hymowitz, Grace Fuller Marroquin. 6) Lilah Ramzi, Sarah Hoover, Lili Buffett. 7) Jason Pomeranc, Tal Waksal, Scott Sartiano. 8) Natasha Boucai, Brent Winston, Virginia Tomenson. 9) Elissa Brenner, Lina Wallach, Candice Miller, Lindsay Kraus. 10) Indre Rockefeller. 11) Melissa Smith, Sarah Arison, Emily Reifel, Lola koch. 12) Lilli Hymowitz, Marc Anthony Perales. 13) Zachary Weiss, Lilah Ramzi, Lili Buffett, Isiah Magsino.14) 15) Gala photos by BFA Ben Rosser and Bre Johnson Performance photos by LK Studio/Jennifer Wingrove.