KCBS Competes: 2017 YAGP Finals in NY

Aurora Wessel (10) in Les Sylphide at YAGP Finals in New York 2017.

Kansas City Ballet School recently competed in the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Semi-finals in Indianapolis. More than 10,000 students participated in the Semi-finals competitions across the country and around the world this year and only 1,200-1,400 were invited to the New York Finals held April 7-14. Several KCBS students qualified for the YAGP Finals and last Friday, after many, many competitive performances, master classes and auditions, the awards were announced.

Kansas City Ballet School Awards:

Aurora Wessel (age 10) was named one of the Top 12 Pre-Competitve Soloists out of 143 students in her age-bracket (118 girls and 25 boys).

Grady George received a Houston Ballet Scholarship 

Poppy Trettel received a Royal Winnipeg Scholarship 

Grady and Poppy will attend summer intensive programs at these prestigious schools on scholarship this year.

Poppy Trettel (11) and Grady George (12) in Bluebird Pas De Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. First Place winners in Pas De Deux YAGP Semi-finals 2017 Indianapolis, IN

KCBS Director Grace Holmes recently had this to say about the YAGP program:

“I had never considered competitions as an important aspect of ballet training, in fact I thought it was a distraction from solid training. When I first came to KCB, one of our teachers had been taking a very limited number of students to YAGP – she was single-handedly teaching, coaching, administrating, doing makeup, and making costumes for all of the students who were competing.

When the first group went to YAGP, I could see the positive effects on our students.  The students who participated learned so much from the one-on-one coaching, and the support they received from their fellow students made me realize how much this brought the kids together.

It was driven home when one of the non-competing students asked me if their class could take 10 minutes out of class time to watch the live stream of their peers at the YAGP semi-finals. She even offered me a $10 bill to cover the fee for the live stream. It meant so much to them to ‘be there’ for their friends. This made me rethink the impact of this particular competition for serious-minded students. I also recognized the impact that it would have on us as a school. The visibility and recognition that come with participating at YAGP could get the word out about how our school has evolved.

So this year we went all out and we took 31 students (last year was a trial with 18). Our efforts were well rewarded and I feel we gained national recognition in our participation. Our students were amazing ambassadors for KCBS. I am very proud of the way they comported themselves and I am proud of their achievements.”

5 thoughts on “KCBS Competes: 2017 YAGP Finals in NY

  1. Thank you,Grace for everything you have done for the Kansas City Ballet School in such a short time! Brava!

    1. One of our group pieces, contemporary choreography by Ryan Nye, was performed at the Regional Semi-finals and selected to be performed at the NYC Finals. Mr. Nye was awarded Outstanding Choreographer at the Regional Semi-finals.

    2. Thank you for your question, Connie! We are so proud of our students. In the YAGP NYC Finals, the soloist dancers must perform both classical and contemporary solos, and are awarded for their performance in both categories combined. Our NYC Finalists were awarded:
      Top 12 Pre-Competitive – Aurora Wessel (age 10)
      Scholarship Recipient – Poppy Trettel (age 11)
      Scholarship Recipient – Grady George (age 12)

      In the Regional Semi-Finals, students are awarded separately in the classical and contemporary categories. In addition to awards and recognition in the classical category, our students placed very well, receiving the following awards in the contemporary category:
      First Place Pre-Competitive Contemporary – Aurora Wessel (age 10)
      Second Place Pre-Competitive Contemporary – Poppy Trettel (age 11)
      Top 12 Pre-Competitive Contemporary – Penelope Guezuraga (age 10)
      Top 12 Junior Contemporary – Leah Reiter (age 14), Melody Sasser (age 13), Grady George (age 12)
      Top 12 Senior Contemporary – Chrisanne Ayers (age 17)

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