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Boston Ballet principal Derek Dunn at age 12 in a variation from Flames of Paris at the 2008 YAGP finals. Courtesy YAGP.

The Youth America Grand Prix New York Finals are starting up again this week, running April 12-19. This year, YAGP is celebrating its 20th anniversary. April 18-19 marks the competition's annual Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow gala, featuring 13 pros who are also YAGP alumni. We've rounded up photos and videos from those stars' YAGP years and shared them with you here.

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Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht Ballet. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

When New York City Ballet went on a three-week tour to Paris last summer, we wished we could tag along. The company presented 20 ballets at the historic Théâtre du Châtelet, including 14 by Balanchine.

Thanks to PBS and their Great Performances series, you can now get a taste of what it was like to be in that audience. The network will air the closing night performance in a two-part broadcast on February 17 (that's tonight!) and February 24, hosted by artistic director Peter Martins.

The lineup features four Balanchine works, all set to the music of French composers—and the casting alone is enough to make you want to tune in.

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I can't even imagine the adrenaline that must have been pumping through Taylor Stanley's veins during New York City Ballet's performance last night. Minutes before the NYCB soloist jumped in for an injured Gonzalo Garcia in Hallelujah Junction, ballet master in chief Peter Martins promoted him to principal dancer backstage. According to an article in the New York Times, it was a spontaneous decision on Martins' part. Stanley's promotion is effective immediately.

Still, this announcement doesn't come as a surprise. Stanley has been garnering attention ever since he joined the company in 2009. He's a favorite of resident choreographer Justin Peck, having danced in every one of his premieres at NYCB (including the lead in February's The Most Incredible Thing). A beautifully lyrical and instinctive mover, he's one of those dancers you simply can't take your eyes off of. We certainly couldn't, which is why we chose him for our August/September cover story last year.

Want to get to know NYCB's new principal a little better? Here's a look at Stanley's thoughts on dancing one of his signature roles, George Balanchine's Square Dance.

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From historic promotions to ballerina retirements to groundbreaking new work, 2015 was an incredible year for ballet. We can't wait to see what the new year has in store, but first let's take a moment to reflect on some of our favorite Pointe stories from the past year. Happy 2016!

 

"Better than perfection is the ability to let it go"—American Ballet Theatre's Veronika Part, photo by Gene Schiavone

Amy Brandt, Editor in Chief

"My favorite was April/May's 'In Pursuit of Perfection,' by Laura Jacobs. Her essay delves into dancers' driving, unattainable quest for the ideal, and the fractured relationship all artists have with perfection. I think it's something we can all relate to, and it holds a very important message for young dancers. 'Artistry that possesses a flashing life force—daring, reaching, giving—will always contain moments that are not quite correct,' Jacobs writes. '...it's the life we remember: the singing of the self.' "

 

 

 

 

Madeline Schrock, Managing Editor

"I loved the cover and accompanying story for Miami City Ballet soloist Nathalia Arja. At her photo shoot, I was blown away by Arja's infectious energy and the pure joy in her dancing. (Yes, she really is as genuine as she seems!) When I read the cover story, I became even more excited about her. I was inspired by her courage to move from her mother's dance school in Brazil to Miami, where not only the language but the Balanchine style was completely foreign to her. Now, Arja seems at home in Balanchine works, and her success is even more thrilling because of her perseverance."

 

Taylor Stanley, photo by Nathan Sayers

Suzannah Friscia, Assistant Editor

"When I saw Justin Peck's new Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes at New York City Ballet in early 2015, I was mesmerized by Taylor Stanley, and his performance stuck with me throughout the year. So it's not surprising that one of my favorite stories was our cover and feature on Stanley's journey at NYCB. I loved reading about his ability to be both a great partner and a true individual onstage—and how this has made him an inspiration to Peck and other choreographers."

 

 

 

 

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, Assistant Editor

Dylan Gutierrez and Victoria Jaiani in Wheeldon's Swan Lake, photo by Quinn Wharton

" 'From Studio to Stage,' the Joffrey Ballet photo essay of Christopher Wheeldon rehearsing his Swan Lake with the company, from the February/March issue. Photographer Quinn Wharton captures the sweat and the glamour and conveys a sense of intimacy with the photographs."

 

Hannah Foster, Research Editor

"In 'Ballet's Not Dead.' Allan Ulrich argues exactly that (definitive period included). I agree! When I look towards all the exciting projects in store for 2016—from digital stages to diversity initiatives, large-scale story ballets to collaborative side projects—I think our beloved art form is taking off anew.

Ballet Stars
Taylor Stanley photographed by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

This is Pointe's August/September 2015 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Visit a New York City Ballet rehearsal on any given day and you may find an unlikely guest named Theo, a 3-year-old Shiba Inu with wolf-like eyes and a teddy bear coat who has become something of an NYCB mascot. He tends to sit patiently off to the side, lost in his own thoughts, while his owner, the captivating 24-year-old soloist Taylor Stanley, concentrates in the center of the studio, displaying his usual discipline and quiet focus.

“I bring him everywhere I go," says Stanley. And like his canine companion, Stanley is a popular presence. “He brings a ray of sunshine into our workspace," says fellow soloist Erica Pereira. “He's a very good person on the inside and people feed off of good energy." But that cool demeanor belies a high-voltage internal spark. “When he dances he eats up the stage," says principal Robert Fairchild. Indeed it's Stanley's unique ability to combine power and passion with ease and humility that has made him a magnetic presence onstage and one of the company's breakout talents.


Sharing a moment of camaraderie in Justin Peck's "Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

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