How Green Was My Ballet: The YAGP Throws an En Pointe Gala

by Ben Diamond Photographed by Presley Ann/PMC
Friday, April 14, 2017

Twelve-year-olds and prima ballerinas were on equal footing at the David H. Koch Theater last night for the Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow Gala. Hosted by The Insider‘s Keltie Knight, the benefit was the capstone of the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world’s largest student dance competition. It featured performances by both the middle and high school-aged Grand Prix winners and established adult dancers, who performed pieces from works like Swan Lake and Le Corsaire. One standout was Ian Spring’s exhilarating rendition of David Parsons’ Caught, in which Spring jumped along to a strobe light in a way that made him appear to levitate across the stage.

Bruce Marks also received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for his years of work nurturing new ballet talent. In his acceptance speech, Marks teased a YAGP alternative for people his age: “Dancing with the Scars.”

After the show, patrons, dancers and other guests gatheredin the Theater’s expansive promenade for dinner. Those in attendance included Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, Rachel Feinstein, Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky, Denise Sobel, Karen and Richard LeFrak, and event chairs Colby Mugrabi, Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, Donny DeutschCandice Miller, Lesley Thompson Vecsler, Suzanne Dance, Christian Lyon, Amy Astley and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

“I thought it was excellent. I was particularly enamored by the children ballerinas,” said Hilton, an unsurprising reaction to an event celebrating young ballet dancers. This was her first time at the Grand Prix. “I’ve been to the ballet, but never the youth one,” she said.

Allen, somehow halfway through his main course before anybody else had sat for appetizers, was similarly enthusiastic. “Loved it. It was very entertaining. I loved it,” he said between bites of chicken.

Despite the dance talent in the room, toe-tappers like “September” came and went without a single plié. “Ballerinas can’t really dance. We’re a little too stiff,” explained dancer Abigail Simon.

Not everybody was so glued to their seats, though. Halfway through dinner, Mary Kate, Ashley, Mary Kate’s husband Olivier Sarkozy and a few dancers hurried onto the balcony for cigarettes. “I love these ballet dancers who smoke,” Sarkozy was overheard saying.


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