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A successful career takes more than great technique. Photo by Getty Images.

Since its founding in 1999, more than 80,000 ballet dancers have participated in Youth America Grand Prix events. While more than 450 alumni are currently dancing in companies across the world, the vast majority—tens of thousands—never turn that professional corner. And these are just the statistics from one competition.

"You may have the best teacher in the world and the best work ethic and be so committed, and still not make it," says YAGP founder Larissa Saveliev. "I have seen so many extremely talented dancers end up not having enough moti­vation and mental strength, not having the right body type, not getting into the right company at the right time or getting injured at the wrong moment. You need so many factors, and some of these are out of your hands."

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Juanjo Arqués' Minos (photo by Katerina Kravtsova)

Many ballet companies offer opportunities for emerging choreographers to test their chops, but few can boast sustained mentorship and cultivation of the next generation of dance makers. A few exceptions include BalletX's season-long choreographic fellowship, The Royal Ballet's Young Choreographer Programme and New York City Ballet's New York Choreographic Institute. Now, Dutch National Ballet is joining the ranks of companies committed to developing new talent.

Starting in the new year, Juanjo Arqués and Peter Leung will be appointed as Young Creative Associates of Dutch National Ballet. Their relationship with the company will include both artistic and technical support for their work, over the course of several years.

Both men are former dancers with the company: Arqués has created work internationally and will premiere a ballet as part of Dutch National's Made in Amsterdam program in February 2017. Leung created the company's breakthrough virtual reality ballet and is an artistic director of the interdisciplinary House of Makers (which has had at least one event in Brooklyn!). In 2017, he'll make a new work for the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company.

For those wishing that a few women were included in this opportunity, Dutch National will partner with UK-based Rambert Dance for a program called Young Choreographer and Composer Exchange Project. Rambert's choreography fellow Julie Cunningham, and music fellow Anna Appleby, will join Leung and Arqués as the group meets with choreographers connected to both companies, observing their creative processes, and more.

Click here to read all about the new initiative.

Ballet Stars
Ratmansky (right) advising Thatcher after rehearsal at the San Francisco Ballet studios. Photo by Reto Albertalli, Courtesy Rolex.

A rehearsal viewing can be daunting for any young choreographer. But when the person watching you work is Alexei Ratmansky, one of the world's greatest living choreographers, it could easily be overwhelming.

“We had a five-hour rehearsal, and he sat on the marley and took notes the whole time," recalls San Francisco Ballet corps member Myles Thatcher. The 24-year-old burgeoning choreographer was creating Spectrum on SFB School students for the annual showcase last spring when Ratmansky paid a visit. Thatcher felt nervous, but he needn't have been—Ratmansky had just chosen him for a year of one-on-one mentoring through the 2014–15 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

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