YAGP 2018 Junior Women first place winner Jolie Rose Lombardo at last year's New York Finals.

Courtesy VAM Productions

Check Out These Two YAGP Live Streams This Weekend

Raise your hand if you're excited for competition season! Youth America Grand Prix Regional Semi-Finals are well underway, leading up to the much-awaited New York Finals April 12-19. Even better, they're live-streamed, meaning you now have the perfect excuse to spend your weekend at home, watching ballet (while sewing your pointe shoes and stretching, of course).

This weekend features semi-finals in Seattle, Washington and Tampa, Florida. To see the full schedules and set up streaming, click here. Streaming starts at $13.99. Packages of 2, 4, 6 or 12 total viewing hours are available, and viewers can log in and out as often as they like.


The Tampa competition also includes YAGP's annual gala. The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow Gala will take place on Saturday, January 5 at 8 pm at Tampa's Straz Center. The gala features a lineup of 14 incredible dancers, nine of whom are YAGP alumni. The list includes American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt, San Francisco Ballet principal Sasha De Sola, Boston Ballet principal Derek Dunn, former Washington Ballet dancer Brooklyn Mack, New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht, ABT principal Hee Seo, guest artist Joseph Gatti and more (click here for the full list). While we don't know all of the works they'll be dancing, we turned to Instagram for a few clues.

YAGP Semi-Finals throughout the U.S. and Canada will be streamed live each weekend through March 17. You can also catch up on YAGP's "Ask the Expert" video series, where dance professionals share their thoughts on topics ranging from injury prevention to college admissions.

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Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

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I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

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La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

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