In a hopeful sign that things may be slowly getting back to normal, Youth America Grand Prix is hosting its 2021 Season Finals live and in person this week in Tampa, Florida. Approximately 800 young dancers will perform at the annual scholarship audition, held May 10–16 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Over $400,000 in scholarships will be awarded, with school directors from all over the world adjudicating both in person and online. The entire event will be livestreamed on YAGP's website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Last spring, the pandemic had forced the competition to pivot to a virtual finals format. But through strict health and safety measures, such as mask wearing, weekly COVID-19 testing and timed performance slots, YAGP was able to resume live semifinals in 26 locations between November and April, without any reported coronavirus cases. Dancers were more than eager to take part—according to the competition, 10,000 students participated in the semifinals. (Those in the U.S., Canada and the Asia Pacific region who were not ready or were unable to perform live were allowed to audition virtually.)
Dancers in the 2021 Pre-Competitive Division take class at during YAGP's Season Final
David King, Courtesy YAGP
Of course, it wouldn't be YAGP without a star-studded gala. This year, to account for social distancing at the Straz Center's Morsani Hall, the annual Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow gala will be presented as a two-part series: the first, on May 13, featuring Junior Division finalists, and the second, on May 16, showcasing Senior Division finalists. Both performances will also star YAGP alumni such as American Ballet Theatre's Skylar Brandt and Aran Bell, San Francisco Ballet's WanTing Zao and Benjamin Freemantle, and Broadway's Giuseppe Bausilio. The gala will also feature world premieres by Alonzo King (danced by LINES Ballet's Adji Cissoko) and ABT principal Calvin Royal III. Don't worry if you can't make it—a virtual edition will be made available on Sunday, May 23.
For information on the finals' competition schedule, click here. And stay tuned as we bring more exciting news about this year's scholarship winners.