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 Post subject: Competitions
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 4:21 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 12:01 am
Posts: 1
Location: Fort Worth
Hi I'm new here and need some advice. Went to see a dance competition for the first time yesterday. :confused:

I just went to see a regional competition of the YAGP in Irving TX and couldn't help but get a strange feeling about this. The dancers were beautiful and the juding was fair. The rules of performing were the bizzare part.

I just seemed like a strange way to showcase dancers. There were dancers that danced once in each category put up against dancers that went on a few times in that one category. The dancers that went a few times seemed to be wearing out and stumbling throughout their last routine. The competition just dragged on and on. I'll probably schreik if I see another "Esmerelda" or Don Q piece again!

The other strange part is that eventhough the majority of winners were the ones that do it only once, two of them (I know for a fact) were actually perfessional dancers more than they were students. Of course they won. They just learned their parts from the teacher of the feeder school into the company in which they work. These two were on the payroll of the company and better dance well to keep their jobs. Only one of them is registered as a student because she hasn't graduated high school yet. They were also within the specified age limit of the yagp so I guess they still qualified to dance this competition. Their pieces were wonderful and they were giddy about winning, so more power to them.

I just cant help but wonder if this is what the YAGP is really trying to promote. Kinda feel really odd about this whole show yesterday. Am I right to be skeptical about this situation? Or could I be overtired of seeing too many tambourines and fans?

<small>[ 30 January 2005, 07:39 AM: Message edited by: ksneds ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Competitions
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 5:58 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19616
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
For all us non-US readers: YAGP?

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 Post subject: Re: Competitions
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 6:37 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3394
Location: Canada
YAGP = Youth America Grand Prix

FYI, the rules state the no professionals are allowed, so there must be a good reason the two dancers you mentioned were allowed to compete. Perhaps they are not yet being technically professional... or are non-competing partners, which is allowed.

I agree with the unease about this competition...and some of the other ones that have popped up in recent years.

Almost all of the competitiors are really too young to be doing the "variations" and honestly, I think the time, money and energy put into competing would be much better spent on summer programs and good quality dance schools. 8-9-10-11-12 year olds should not be under that stresss, nor are they ready to be dancing these variations, especially on pointe. (If you look at the competition photos, almost all of the 11 year olds who were tops in the pre-competitive division (pre-copmetitive, competitive?) were on pointe. Eeek.)

FYI, all competitors from age 12 and up must do one of the required solos or pas de deuxs if they compete in the classical section. I shudder to think of 12 year olds even attempting pdds from a list including 'La Sylphide', 'Paquita', 'Don Q' and 'Napoli'. Or gasp, gasp...'Etudes'. The ballerina's variation from 'Etudes' is a challenge for top-quality professional dancers, and shouldn't be reduced to something cranked out to win a prize. Nor do I feel that there are very many teachers, at least in the US, who are capable of properly coaching a student in the Bournonville rep, like Sylphides, Flower Festival and Napoli.

At YAGP, each solo or variation entry costs $70 and each of 3 compulsory workshop costs $70 or $85. And it costs $25 for each teacher observing a workshop. Multiply that by all the competitiors at the regional semi-finals and NY finals, and even subtracting the cost of renting the competition locations and paying judges and workshop leaders, that would seem to more money than needed to cover costs (YAGP is a non-profit).

I very much agree with people who feel that competitions are really only useful for ballet students who are at the cusp of professional careers and are looking for exposure and the chance to be considered for scholarships at top schools or professional contracts. And the top level of YAGP does that very nicely, and that's a healthier kind of competition - and to be very clear, I don't have problems with the senior level competition at YAGP. (Though I think the repertoire is not always appropriate)

I suspect that the competition comes from the experiences of the founders, ABT soloist Gennadi Saviliev and his wife, who were trained in the Soviet System. I wonder - and am by no means an expert on the topic, whether they are taking a concept - competition - that works better in systems like at the Russian companies, or the big European company schools like the Royal Danish Ballet School or the Royal Ballet School, where students start from a young age and receive daily instruction. It's a huge difference at younger ages, when young dancers are receiving daily instruction - though often just 1 - 1.5 hours a day, and are being carefully monitered by experienced professionals, rather than doing 2 0r 3 classes a week until they are 12 or 13, like many young US dancers.

To me, competitions like the Prix de Lausanne and the NY International Ballet Competition are much more healthy and appropriate for dancers. Both are aimed at older dancers and seem to be much more strict about health issues and age-appropriate repertoire.

Also, at NY IBC, for instance, the $75 entry ee covers room, board and food for the whole three weeks. Competitors must prepare a free solo, but do not learn the pas de deux until they arrive at the competition. Thus, there is much less pre competition stress and all competitors have equal access to coaching and time. Competitors also must live together in dorm housing and are assigned host families from their respective nationalities (when possible), so there are no stage moms hovering in the corner, nor pressure from coaches.
I had the pleasure of getting to watch some of the rehearsals, and I would think that the dancers got more out of working with Thomas Lund and Eva Koborg on the pdd from 'Kermesse in Brugge' that one would get from a whole week of stressing on an overly ambitious solo for the YAGP.

However, most of the competitors were already professional, though usually corps members, but the competition brought many of them to the attention of more prestigious companies and has led one young woman to a starring role in the touring company of 'Movin Out'.

I am curious to know how other people feel about competitions...

You can read more about YAGP at


<small>[ 30 January 2005, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: ksneds ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Competitions
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:50 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:01 am
Posts: 3
Location: the bat cave
Note from Stuart: This was posted by Kate during the process of moving the topic.

katie lyn...

I have moved your post over to the 'Students Questions and Experiences' thread, where it should get more responses. It's now called 'Advice on Competitions'.

This topic seems to be focusing on whether or not competitions - YAGP in particular - are good or bad, and I invite you post on that topic.

Kate (moderator)

<small>[ 02 February 2005, 01:33 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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