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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #1 
I have to admit I only watched the female precompetitive entries, but it was definitely eye opening. Obviously, very much a different (wonderful) level of dancers than in regionals. A couple of things stood out:
1. The skinny dancers, especially in the classical division (no surprise, of course). Frankly, I found some to be grotesquely skinny.
2. Clearly, there's a YAGP "formula" for the contemporary division - flexibility, poses, and leaps, but not as much pure dance.
3. I don't know what they define as artistic expression, but I define it as getting into a character, or a dancer displaying pure joy. I didn't see much of that by the dancers, nor that it was particularly valued by the judges.

I'm sure there is more, but I'm drawing a blank.

It did make me re-evaluate whether DD10 (11 next week) should jump into the competitive ballet world again (we both enjoyed her competing at YAGP this year), unless she shows incredible growth throughout the summer.

I'd love to hear what others thought of Finals.

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Noel

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I'll be following this thread. I really appreciate your thoughts. All things classic ballet are new to DD and I as far as competitions. It's really helpful to hear what informed parents think.
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heidi459

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Dd watched whenever she had time and would always call me over when she was enthralled with what she was seeing..  One of her ballet schools had some dancers there. Older though. One (a boy) received a contract for a European company and a trainee position at Ballet West.  Another (a girl) received multiple scholarships for summer and year round programs in Europe.  I agree that YAGP contemp is not what you generally see at generic comps which seems to cause confusion for those coming from that arena.  I do think though that what you see at YAGP more closely resembles what you would see a professional ballet company present on stage (for a contemp piece).  

Dd's tossing around the idea of going next year. Just trying to figure out how to tell one school that she's going to be there... but not with them.  That should be fun  lol.
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Emmie46

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Reply with quote  #4 
I watched some group pieces as our studio had an entry. I too noticed the extremely skinny dancers. The group dances that I saw were amazing in terms of technique and choreography. I thought they were a level above our entry.
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Phx115

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmie46
I watched some group pieces as our studio had an entry. I too noticed the extremely skinny dancers. The group dances that I saw were amazing in terms of technique and choreography. I thought they were a level above our entry.


I wish I was able to see the ensemble pieces, but we were up north where the internet is sketchy at best. I'm sure they were amazing! DD's studio used to bring group pieces, but I'm assuming they didn't this year due to lack of interest.
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meatball77

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I'm always bored by many of the contemporary dances at YAGP.  The music is often bland and the choreography more about showing a dancers technical strengths rather than their artistry.  That said my daughter's contemporary scored much higher than I expected at semi-finals and it was far from typical YAGP choreography.  Aside from getting the Grand Prix contemporary performances don't seem to really matter (not that there's any explanation as to who makes the final round in NYC and which scores are used to determine the top dancers).   I'm sue it matters for directors who are giving school scholarships.

Both of the senior category dancers I knew (who didn't make the final) got scholarships to good full year programs, something that probably wouldn't have happened if they'd just gone to SI auditions. 
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judie

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Reply with quote  #7 
We are done with YAGP. Perfectly happy being able to experience success with true artistry in a competitive forum.
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PasDeChatMom

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Quote:
Originally Posted by judie
We are done with YAGP. Perfectly happy being able to experience success with true artistry in a competitive forum.


If you don't mind my asking, what led you to this decision? We are still on the fence for YAGP in the next 1-2 years (my daughter's last year to compete as a junior is this upcoming season 2017-2018) so I'm still researching all of the pros/cons I can find from various perspectives.
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judie

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There are some very talented individuals who compete at YAGP. They are clearly focused on a career in ballet. This is a competition that focuses on potential in that world. My DD is very successful in the traditional competition world. This is a forum that just does not translate. I personally feel it is largely based on body type...their definition of "potential".

I have seen her compete this year against the same girls who have placed at YAGP, and every time, she has placed ahead. She does not have what YAGP is looking for, and I would rather spend money elsewhere rather than having anxiety attacks because she can't give them what they want.

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PasDeChatMom

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Gotcha thanks Judie - I've also heard that YAGP is very body-type focused, especially at finals.
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ballerinamom13

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Quote:
Originally Posted by PasDeChatMom
Gotcha thanks Judie - I've also heard that YAGP is very body-type focused, especially at finals.


Agree - but don't you think most SI's auditions are also body type focused, especially with the younger kids?  And most people (NOT saying you) see skinny.  I really think they actually look for the other attributes that professional ballerinas need, in addition to being thin.  Since we aren't judges and we don't hold auditions, I don't think it's right to just equate "body type" with thin, just because that's what the majority of people see or assume.  There is a lot more to it than that.

Someone who is 4"11", all torso, with no neck probably isn't going to be a ballerina, even if they are extremely talented at a young age.   The finals award amazing scholarships, as everyone knows.  If the schools are willing to give free tuition for a year to someone, they are probably looking for someone who has a good chance of continuing on in ballet as a professional.  

I don't want to argue with anyone here. I just think equating "body type" with "skinny or thin" only, isn't capturing the full picture. And by talking about the judging like that's the only thing they look at just perpetuates the idea that they are only looking at skinny, when, (JMO) I don't think that's true.  
 
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ggsmith

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OK, it isn't ONLY slim built and extremely thin young dancers (especially women) that the judges reward at YAGP, but it is slim built, exceedingly thin AND long-limbed AND flexible to the extreme, including (especially) the feet.

I've attended our local YAGP regional several years as an observer and one year as the parent of a junior competitor.  I've also watched parts of the finals via the website and we've watched plenty of youtube recordings of various competitors.  Body type seems to be extremely important at that competition.  The year DD competed I watched most of the weekend.  I saw some amazing young dancers who did not place.  Without exception those that did place were unusually thin.  Some of them seemed almost skeletal and I don't find that comfortable to watch.  People compete for their own reasons, and we each have to do our own cost/benefit analysis for our own families.  I think the emphasis on body type is something people should be aware of when making that analysis.

Scholarship awards and employment offers are separate from placement at YAGP.  Placement is determined by the judges, and offers come from the organizations making the offers.



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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #13 
I agree that body type characteristics, along with technique and talent are rewarded at YAGP. All of it needs to be there. 

If there were 2 identical dancers with very similar bodies, both with impeccable technique and artistry, the one with the archy banana feet will win over the other dancer. While most of us know the issues with those feet anatomically, all things being equal, it is the preferred aesthetic. It does not matter that some of the greatest ballerinas did not have those feet. And the great ballerina of the next generation may very well be someone who did not win at YAGP. It may very well be one of the runner ups who did not quite have all the anatomically desired features but may turn out to have an artistry beyond those that do have them. 

There are also certainly some kids who are very successful in both the traditional competition world and the ballet competition world. I think we see that more in the younger age groups than near the top of the senior age group where dancers have often already decided on one path or the other. 

I'm sure ballerinamom13 can testify to this as well. Now that my dd's cohort is moving out of this age range (though I did spot one old friend in the top 12 men), it is interesting to see where some of these YAGP winners end up. I admit I was a little surprised at first to see that some rather successful ballet competition dancers decide to pursue college in other areas of study besides dance. Another did very well and ended up being able to pick the company he wanted to work with, but left it for commercial dance. And, as some of your kids will see eventually, some of the YAGP superstars are fairly ordinary in class.  Some, even less than ordinary. One was in classes with dd for a short time and she noticed immediately that this dancer could not do more than single turns to her weaker side. She only turned to the right. This dancer is also one that worked on her variation for YAGP for a good year. I think that still surprises dd from time to time when she encounters this sort of thing. 
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meatball77

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Reply with quote  #14 
YAGP is clear that they are looking for potential and potential for ballet is thin, long legs, musicality and archy feet.  I always tell my daughter that when people are talking about potential they're mostly talking about her body.  Just like it was nice when people say she has great feet but it means something when they say she has strong feet.
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pirouettemom

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Reply with quote  #15 
I think body type is a big deal at YAGP finals but less so at regionals. I know of dancers who placed at regionals who did not have the 'preferred' body type. But I also know of dancers who have the 'potential' that YAGP is looking for and got invites to finals even though they didn't score as high (or the supposed 95 classical score you need to advance).
I didn't notice so much in pre-competitive, but the junior finalists seemed to mostly all have a very similar body type - so much so that when there were a few exceptions to this, they really seemed to stand out.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #16 
Very true, pirouettemom, and welcome to the site. [smile] I think it also may depend on which regional. Granted, that may also really depend on which schools tend to go to which regional in large numbers too. 

I did not watch finals this year, but have gone in the past and watched in person. The few exceptions do stand out. It was the same in the senior category. There were also a few that made us raise an eyebrow, wondering how they got through when so many others did not. 
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5678StarMom

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Reply with quote  #17 
So body type is definitely a factor in success...what about politics (or using connections?) Just curious if anyone has first hand comments they would be willing to share. My DD14 wants to compete again next year, but I'm not sure we are connected enough to have a real chance at recognition.

Lessons we learned from this year's regionals were that we needed to at least double her coaching hours on her variations (we only did about 12 hours of coaching total for each classical, and one of them was a carry over from the prior year with just about 2 hours of re-polishing in the month before the regional) Also in my observation independent dancers don't do as well. This could be for a myriad of reasons, but next year we are hoping to compete under a ballet school name...even though it is not a big or well known school.  

DD14 also noted that there were plenty of dancers who either didn't show up to classes or didn't seem to have "it" compared to how they appeared at competition. Especially in center. This wasn't a huge surprise to her though after audition season, but it is still an odd phenomenon.
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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5678StarMom
So body type is definitely a factor in success...what about politics (or using connections?) Just curious if anyone has first hand comments they would be willing to share. My DD14 wants to compete again next year, but I'm not sure we are connected enough to have a real chance at recognition.

Lessons we learned from this year's regionals were that we needed to at least double her coaching hours on her variations (we only did about 12 hours of coaching total for each classical, and one of them was a carry over from the prior year with just about 2 hours of re-polishing in the month before the regional) Also in my observation independent dancers don't do as well. This could be for a myriad of reasons, but next year we are hoping to compete under a ballet school name...even though it is not a big or well known school.  

DD14 also noted that there were plenty of dancers who either didn't show up to classes or didn't seem to have "it" compared to how they appeared at competition. Especially in center. This wasn't a huge surprise to her though after audition season, but it is still an odd phenomenon.


The bolded sounds like it could be a result of dancers working almost exclusively on their variation or other piece, but not much else.  The whole "learning a dance" vs. "learning to dance" thing.

Though it does sound as if your dancer may have gone a bit too far toward the other end of the coaching hours spectrum.
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dave9988

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Quote:
Originally Posted by meatball77
YAGP is clear that they are looking for potential and potential for ballet is thin, long legs, musicality and archy feet.  I always tell my daughter that when people are talking about potential they're mostly talking about her body.  Just like it was nice when people say she has great feet but it means something when they say she has strong feet.


"Potential"  (insert eye roll).

My favorite NFL team is great at drafting players with "potential."  I just wish for once they'd go after the guys who can actually play!
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ballerinamom13

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggsmith
OK, it isn't ONLY slim built and extremely thin young dancers (especially women) that the judges reward at YAGP, but it is slim built, exceedingly thin AND long-limbed AND flexible to the extreme, including (especially) the feet. 

Yes, good points - These are often the attributes of those are "rewarded" with professional contracts, for the most part, in real life except the extreme flexibility maybe. (Along with a ton of hard work, musicality, good health, no injuries and a little luck…). 

Scholarship awards and employment offers are separate from placement at YAGP. Placement is determined by the judges, and offers come from the organizations making the offers.

 Agree - Both judges and organizations are basically looking for the same things.  The organizations are also looking at what is a good fit for their school or company.  

 

I guess what surprises me is that anyone is surprised by the fact that YAGP may judge on these kind of qualities.  YAGP makes it very clear that they want it to be a "professional" experience.  There is nothing wrong with that and when they say "professional", they mean it. 

I completely agree that one should be aware of what YAGP may be looking for, before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on participating, especially if winning is your only object.  If taking part in an open ballet competition, (there are not many open ballet competitions), where people are judged by a little bit different standard than non-ballet competitions is what you want, then it's a great experience. People do need to understand that they are trying to make it closer to real life ballet, even though it’s is open to everyone, unlike other ballet competitions where you are required to qualify by sending a video.  And yes, it's very subjective, just like the real ballet world.  Why wouldn't body type be important to them at this competition?   

I agree, tendumom. There are many, many kids dancing professionally who didn't ever make it to NYC and/or never competed in YAGP. We also know kids who won the Grand Prix award and scored very high in New York who are still dancing and we know a few people who did very well as juniors and aren't even dancing anymore.    YAGP is no big indicator of the future, especially for younger kids.  But it can give kids an idea of where they stand in the very competitive world of ballet at that point in time, compared to the others who participate. I think it's really important for parents to prepare their kids for what YAGP is like and if you don't like what they do, don't spend the money.  It really is not a requirement for future success.  

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pirouettemom

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Reply with quote  #21 

One phenomenon I find kind of strange is the ballet dancer that has success in YAGP, gets a big social media following, and doesn't really work in a company but instead does guest appearances/galas.  They may continue competing way past YAGP.  Miko Fogarty and Juliet Doherty seem to be doing this.  In the past, I would think you would already have to be an established ballet dancer to be participating in galas and such.

I do wonder how important it is to have that particular body type for ballet.  I have noticed when I watched ballet - prestigious companies like New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet - that not all the dancers have the 'ideal' body type.  Even principals and soloists.  They don't all have narrow torsos, long thin legs and that elongated look.  And it doesn't seem like audiences demand this look - as some of the superstars that the audience goes crazy over do not have these bodies.  

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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #22 
There is waaaaaay more to the Juliet D. story.  She is at Master Ballet, where my dd trained for years.  I'm not going to go into it, but there are some personal reasons that she is doing what she's doing.  Edited to add:  Juliet had an offer from ABT Studio Company and deferred.  So she could have been dancing in a Company.

NYCB is Ballanchine. The dancers there, for the most part (not all) are tall and more strong looking than some other companies.  They still have the feet and long limbs for sure.  There are always exceptions.

How old is your daughter pirouettemom?
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Phx115

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirouettemom

One phenomenon I find kind of strange is the ballet dancer that has success in YAGP, gets a big social media following, and doesn't really work in a company but instead does guest appearances/galas.  They may continue competing way past YAGP.  Miko Fogarty and Juliet Doherty seem to be doing this.  In the past, I would think you would already have to be an established ballet dancer to be participating in galas and such.

I do wonder how important it is to have that particular body type for ballet.  I have noticed when I watched ballet - prestigious companies like New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet - that not all the dancers have the 'ideal' body type.  Even principals and soloists.  They don't all have narrow torsos, long thin legs and that elongated look.  And it doesn't seem like audiences demand this look - as some of the superstars that the audience goes crazy over do not have these bodies.  



Various articles have been published that interview artistic directors who "say" they avoid the skeletal dancers because of concerns about strength, and the liability of taking on a dancer that MAY have an eating disorder.

I'm sure I'm way off the mark, but I find it hard to believe that skeletal looking dancers are naturally thin. There's natural skinny body types for sure, but emaciated is a completely different situation, in my opinion. I tend to think the emaciated dancers that seem to have "potential" suffer from injuries before their careers can really take off.

One thing I'll admit is that ever since DD competed at a YAGP regional this year she's been obsessed about her weight. She's 54" and 68 lbs. Puberty hasn't started, other than developing a bit of a bum. I'm balancing a fine line between NOT focusing on weight, yet encouraging her to eat more healthy foods. It's not easy.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #24 

I do wonder how important it is to have that particular body type for ballet.  I have noticed when I watched ballet - prestigious companies like New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet - that not all the dancers have the 'ideal' body type.



Wonder away...........This is an excerpt from my dd's contract.  So basically, they can fire you if you are sick or injured or if you gain or lose too much weight.  If a person gets too thin, they can be fired for the weight issue or the fact that they get injured or cannot keep up.  On the other hand, I've never, ever seen or heard of anyone get the "skinny talk".  I have definitely heard of people getting the "fat talk".  Yes, it's in the contract that they want you to be healthy, but in reality, they need and want you to look good and good to them may be something other than mainstream beliefs.  FYI - this is pretty standard language for a ballet contract.  




Termination. This Agreement can be terminated solely at the discretion of ____ for any one or more of the
following reasons:
(a) Extended or frequent illness, or recurring injuries or incidents of the same injury or illness,
whether or not such injury preexists this Agreement;
(b) A poor professional attitude, repeated absences or tardiness;
(c) Unacceptable weight gain or loss;
(d) Criminal or other acts which reflect unfavorably upon ___;
(e) Insubordination;
(e) Unforeseen circumstances requiring the temporary or permanent cessation of rehearsals and
performances by ________

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meatball77

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phx115
Various articles have been published that interview artistic directors who "say" they avoid the skeletal dancers because of concerns about strength, and the liability of taking on a dancer that MAY have an eating disorder. I'm sure I'm way off the mark, but I find it hard to believe that skeletal looking dancers are naturally thin. There's natural skinny body types for sure, but emaciated is a completely different situation, in my opinion. I tend to think the emaciated dancers that seem to have "potential" suffer from injuries before their careers can really take off. One thing I'll admit is that ever since DD competed at a YAGP regional this year she's been obsessed about her weight. She's 54" and 68 lbs. Puberty hasn't started, other than developing a bit of a bum. I'm balancing a fine line between NOT focusing on weight, yet encouraging her to eat more healthy foods. It's not easy.


Please tell me that's a typo and your daughter doesn't think she's fat because she's 5'4" and 68 pounds.  That sounds really unhealthy.
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