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Tamison Soppet.
Tamison Soppet.

After 10 days of classes, performances, two sensational gala performances and a gala dinner, the results of the 25th Youth America Grand Prix were announced at a ceremony at the David Koch Theater at the Lincoln Centre, New York, on Saturday.

New Zealander Tamison Soppet triumphed in the Junior Women’s Section. Against a field of 40 finalists, this tiny 13-year-old dancer from Convergence Dance Studios in Christchurch won over the judges with her charming Fairy Doll solo.

In second place came Annie Webb (13) from the US, whose strong pose turns were memorable, and in third place came the beautifully poised Jolie Lavaux, also 13 and also from the US.

The Awards Ceremony at the David Koch Theater at the Lincoln Centre, NY.
The Awards Ceremony at the David Koch Theater at the Lincoln Centre, NY.

Kiwi dancers punched well above their weight this year. Though only six were represented in the NY solo finals, two came out trumps: Tamison and also Lauren Wycherley,  (15), from Papilio Atelier, who came in the top 12 in the Senior Women’s section. The winner of that section was Ivana Radan (15) from the US, with a sparkling performance of La Esmeralda. Crystal Huang from the US came second and MinJi Son (18) from South Korea, won third.

In the men’s sections, first prize in the Junior was won by Canadian Keenan Mentzos (14), who performed the solo from Le Corsaire; second place went to Eric Poor (US), who performed the Raymonda solo with good clean lines; and third went to Eita Akita (14) from Japan, with the Talisman solo.

The winner of the Senior Men’s was Brazilian dancer Martinho Lima Santos (18), a pupil at the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco. Second place went to another Brazilian, Joao Pedro Silva (15), who captured both the technique and the humour of the Harlequinade solo. Third place was a tie between Hang Li (20), from China, with the dashing solo from Talisman, and the elegant Carson Willey (17) from the US, who danced Siegfried’s introspective Act 3 solo from Swan Lake with evident feeling.

Nobody would have been surprised, however, that the Grand Prix Award, the highest prize of the competition, went to GeonHee Park (18), who brought the house down with his flawless technique and sprung, panther-like jumps. His school, the Korea National University of the Arts in South Korea, presented some of the most stunning competitors – in recognition of this achievement it was awarded the Most Outstanding School.

The legendary Russian/American ballerina Natalia Makarova has been a long-standing supporter of YAGP. This year a new award was presented in her name: it went to Viktoria Papakalodouka (15), from the US.

But winning prizes is not the be-all and end-all of YAGP. Numerous scholarships were also offered as well as a number of company contracts to YAGP’s affiliated schools and companies, so that even those dancers who did not reach the final sections will now have career-making offers to consider. 

For more, go here.

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