Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) has become a sort of staple in dance training, especially if your main focus is classical ballet. It’s not mandatory or necessary, and the truth is that more than 90% of the highest ranking ballerinas in the world never participated or didn’t win YAGP. It’s also true that if you’re a finalist in NYC then your YAGP experience has been drastically different for someone who just competed but didn’t rank. I’ve trained YAGP top 3 finishers and seen the CEO play matchmaker with different directors making their pitches to dance parents and dancers. I’ve also trained the dancer that just wants performance experience and doesn’t place or get positive comments, ever. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, I hope I can help.
Here are the biggest things you should focus on in preparing for and participating in YAGP.
Your variations should be chosen by a ballet teacher that knows professional classical ballet repertory AND your dancer. These variations will stick with them for life so make sure the first person teaching them knows what they’re talking about. Also, it’s important that dance coaches and teachers don’t use dance class time to coach variations. If there’s a variations class that’s even better, but coaching for variations should be done in private lessons or in extra class time. BONUS TIP… study on YouTube. See what different dancers have done with different variations. So many videos are available from around the world of different ballet stars performing these variations. See what choices they made stylistically and decide what would look great on your dancer.
Contemporary Choreography for YAGP is a GREAT opportunity to grow as a dancer. Find a great Contemporary Ballet Choreographer and ask them to set a solo on your dancer. If they’re not in your area you might need to travel for your dancer to learn the choreography and schedule video sessions to keep maintaining it. Ask your choreographer what modern, contemporary, or jazz classes your dancer can take to get better and better at making the choreography look great!
Getting the Music
Get the music that you’ll be performing to as soon as you decide which pieces you’re doing. Your contemporary and classical music should be downloaded to CD for YAGP, but make sure you have immediate access to it for your own private rehearsals and studying. You might need to download it from youtube.
Make sure you choose costumes that show off the things that make your body great for classical ballet. If you have long legs, show that off. If you have short legs, maybe a high cut leotard would make your legs look longer. Avoid shorts that stop mid thigh as they cut your line off. Your choreographer should make the big decisions but if they choose something that doesn’t make you look and feel good, go rogue.
Your training regimen is your dancer’s daily schedule. When will they make time to practice classical variations and contemporary works? Sessions with teachers are important but if you’re only able to schedule 2 rehearsals a week, maybe you should schedule some rehearsals without teachers present as well. Ask your teachers what your dancer should be doing when they practice alone and run with it. Laying it out on the calendar is extremely important. It’s the only real way to get an aerial view!
I hope these help you on your journey!
Training for YAGP has been a big part of my life for a long time. If you need help with anything else please don’t hesitate to reach out!