Students ages 13-15 are now training for the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious competition that welcomes thousands of dancers. Ballet competitions at this level are known to provide competitors with exposure to the professional ballet world and result in scholarship offers for training, as well as spots in professional companies.
“This competition is a great way for our dancers to experience performing among top ballet students from around the country, and if they reach finals, from around the world,” said Valeria Sinyavskaya, artistic director for Kingsport Ballet.
Four Kingsport Ballet students — Graham Barnes, Sophie Kooy, Leahnees Miller and Morgan Mullins — will compete in the competition.
The dancers will perform one or two classical variations, as well as a contemporary dance choreographed by Jessica Barrett, graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts and former jazz instructor at Kingsport Ballet.
The road to competition
Preparation often begins during summer intensives, where students learn variations that either work on certain elements in preparation or simply “try on” a particular variation for style, suitability or difficulty level.
Once variations are chosen for competing students, they begin working privately several times each week, in addition to their regular daily classes.
Sinyavskaya works individually with students and also utilizes guest artists to help prepare students for the competition. Radenko Pavlovich, who worked with Kingsport Ballet dancers this summer, is one such guest artist.
Pavlovich has prepared numerous dancers for ballet competitions such as the Valentina Koslova Competition and World Ballet Competition, as well as Youth America Grand Prix. Many of his dancers have garnered gold, silver and bronze medals. He has also served on numerous judge panels.
Speaking about Kingsport Ballet, Pavlovich said, “You have a great school here. Congratulations. Your students are wonderful — well trained, polite, hard-working. It really is remarkable.”