Kansas City Ballet School has now competed in Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) for four years—the last two years Kansas City has been the host. The competition took place at The Folly Theater downtown and the master classes were held at KCBS.
In 2019, KCBS submitted 71 solo entries, three pas de deux entries, and four ensemble entries for a grand total of 78 entries—up 15 entries from 2018. KCBS had students competing in every category. The Kansas City Semi-finals had 523 total entries.
“My favorite part of YAGP is seeing the progress in the students by the end of the year. And even though it is a competition, it feels like it brings us within our school and even the whole dance community together,” KCBS’s Principal and YAGP Coordinator Racheal Nye says. “Lots of supportive energy and learning from one another!”
A total of 18 coaches and choreographers worked with the students for approximately 35 hours of rehearsals per week preparing for the competition. This was outside of their regular ballet and dance classes. The list of coaches and choreographers include: Racheal Nye, Dmitry Trubchanov, David Justin, Debbie Jacobs-Huffaker, Sean Duus, Danielle Fu, Lamin Periera dos Santos, Dillon Malinski, Amaya Rodriguez, James Kirby Rogers, Taryn Ouellette, Amanda Moder, Austin Meiteen, Jeremy Hansen, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye, Andi Abernathy, Duncan Cooper, Courtney Collado, and Parrish Maynard.
The accomplishments of KCBS students in this competition would not be possible without the KCBS staff and faculty. So much more goes into YAGP behind the scenes than most people realize. Planning starts now (March) for next year, coaches are identified and paired with students over the summer, and rehearsals start in August.
“I want to thank every coach, student, and administrator involved! I also want to shout out to Racheal Nye, who manages the project,” says Kansas City Ballet School Director Grace Holmes. “She goes beyond the call of duty, spending hours finding the right coach and solo for each student, taking into account each student’s technical ability and learning style. She also spends hours working on music, getting accounts sorted, and making sure students have costumes. At the event, she was there for every student in need, whether they were our students or not. We appreciate her SO much for everything she does for KCBS!”
Grace Holmes said: “I am SO proud of all of our students who participated in YAGP this year. We had students representing our Academy from both Evening and Daytime Programs. Every student worked so hard to present their best work in their moment on stage. It is gratifying as a teacher and director to see our students grow through the process of learning, refining and performing their pieces. Watching them grow as artists and achieve their goals is what it is all about.”
In addition to performing well on stage KCBS students were wonderful ambassadors for KCBS and Kansas City. Holmes believes this to be as important as the event itself.
Holmes admits the ballet world is very small and KCBS students will find themselves working alongside people in the future, who they danced alongside in their past. At YAGP, it’s the students chance to learn not only to share the stage but to foster an openness with other students. She deems this strengthens the dance community as a whole.
“When we start working on YAGP, we let our parents know that for the School, the priority is on the learning and growth experience, and not the competition awards,” Holmes says. “The awards are a reflection of our students’ hard work, but KCBS is proud of every student who participates regardless of the outcome. We see how hard the students are working and how much progress they are making, and that is the true reward.”
2019 RECOGNITION AND AWARDS
The YAGP Finals will be in New York April 12-19, 2019. Kansas City Ballet School has had students invited for the last four years and hopes to again. Invitations will go out soon.
Below is the list of recognition Kansas City Ballet School and students received at this year’s YAGP Semi-finals awards ceremony:
Outstanding School 2019
Pre-Competitive Classical (41 total entrants)
3rd Place: Chloe Kim
Top 12: Kaylee Meinholdt, Paisley Park
Pre-Competitive Contemporary (29 total entrants)
3rd Place: Paisley Park
Top 12: Kaylee Meinholdt, Chloe Kim
Junior Classical (120 total entrants)
2nd Place: Kathryn Benson
Top 12: Lillie Barr
Junior Contemporary (78 total entrants)
2nd Place: Hannah Hudson
Senior Classical Women (118 total entrants)
2nd Place: Talia Lebowitz
Top 12: Hannah Zucht
Senior Classical Men (118 total entrants)
3rd Place: Timothy TV Cao
Senior Contemporary (98 total entrants)
Top 12: Timothy TV Cao
Ensembles (29 total entrants)
3rd Place: Duncan Cooper Continuum
Top 12: Parrish Maynard Fractals
Top 12: Racheal Nye Nocturne
Pas de Deux (10 total entrants)
1st Place: (Tie) Talisman-Hannah Zucht/Timothy Cao
and Remembrance-Juliette Rafael/Timothy Cao
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