This past weekend (March 1-4, 2018) Kansas City’s Folly Theater was teeming with tutus. It was the first time Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) had held a Regional Semi-Final in Kansas City. It appears to be a success.
More than 300 students from all over the city, region and country competed.
Just how did KCBS stack up against the competition? Pretty well.
For the second year in a row, KCBS received the “Outstanding School Award”. Last year it was at the competition in Indianapolis. “It felt good to get it here at home. There were several schools in the running, so it wasn’t something we expected to get but we are thrilled and honored,” Holmes said.
Also of special note, Kansas City Ballet School student, Aurora Wessel (11), won the “Hope Award”. This is an award that YAGP doesn’t always give out. It is intended as a special honor for the student who exceeds in both contemporary and classical competition. It’s more prestigious than simply winning first place. Aurora placed in the Top 12 for both Contemporary and Classical dance categories in the Pre-Competitive Age Division.
The overall number of pieces performed by category by all participating schools: Pre-competitive Category (66 pieces), Junior Category (196 pieces), Pas de Deux (14 pieces; 7 were from KCBS), Ensembles (30 pieces), Senior Classical (122 pieces) and Senior Contemporary (76 pieces).
“Many of the visiting schools and the judges were pleasantly surprised at how wonderful Kansas City is and how well the arts are supported here,” Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes said. “I was surprised at how many schools locally and regionally came to KC to participate.”
It’s no secret that Kansas City is conveniently situated in the heart of the country making it an easy drive from many states or a great place for air travel. And as a new YAGP venue, there was a lot of excitement specifically because of the “unknowns”. A little unpredictability can have advantages, so in this competition it’s not a bad thing to compete in a new location.
Kansas City Ballet School students really made an impression according to KCBS YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye, “I received such positive feedback from other schools’ students and parents about the kindness of our KCBS students towards others, and that is something I’m incredibly proud of. Our kids were wonderful ambassadors for our school.”
“I am so happy with the work that all of our coaches and teachers put into preparations for this competition. At first I was not sure about having our students participate in a competition. But Racheal changed my mind about that when she brought a small group to YAGP two years ago. The reason we now do YAGP is because of Racheal. She had the vision that in participating in YAGP, our students could expand their already intense dance education by working through the process of learning, refining and performing these solos. And on top of coaching, she single-handedly did all the administration and scheduling, not to mention costumes, makeup demonstrations and took care of so many other details,” says Holmes. Her dedication certainly paid off. See the list of KCBS accomplishments for the 2018 YAGP Regional Semi-Finals below.
Holmes would like to thank Kansas City Ballet Artistic Director Devon Carney and Kansas City Ballet Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley for supporting KCBS in its YAGP efforts. “It’s always a huge undertaking for the school and it puts strain on the organization to have this many kids participate. So, I appreciate them taking a leap of faith on us,” Holmes says.
FINALS IN NYC
Invitations to attend the 2018 YAGP Finals will go out soon. The Finals will be held in New York City on April 19 at Lincoln Center.
2018 YAGP, KANSAS CITY, MO, KCBS WINNERS
Outstanding School: Kansas City Ballet School
1st Place Pas de Deux Category
2nd Place Ensemble: Coda from Esmeralda (Racheal Nye)
Hope Award: Aurora Wessel (11)
Top 12: Penelope Guezuraga (11)
3rd Place: Penelope Guezuraga (11)
Top 12: Kathryn Benson (11)
Junior Classical Women
1st Place: Poppy Trettel (12)
3rd Place: Melody Sasser (14)
Top 12: Addison Diaz (14), Mia Porter (12)
Junior Classical Men
2nd Place: Grady George (13)
Top 12: Poppy Trettel (12)
Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Grace Reed (18), Hope Wampler (16), Timothy TV Cao (15)
Top 12: Camryn Potts (17), Mina-Vasiliya Stoyanova (17), Timothy TV Cao (15)
Read previous post about the 2018 YAGP competition?
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Learn more about YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye: