On The Avenue

The Youth is On Fire

by Lee Fryd Photographed by Presley Ann/PMC
Friday, April 20, 2018
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“Look around this room,” exclaimed Youth America Grand Prix Board Member Terry Zucker, panning around the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater, at YAGP’s “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” Gala. In it mingled New York’s Junior social set, balletomanes, young dancers in tutus and established stars in gowns. The two hour performance preceding it was a sublime combination of classic, contemporary and Latin choreographies, ballet students beginning their professional trajectories and notable alums leading their way.


“Bringing in the Olsen Twins has made it more fun,” continued Zucker. “It had a huge impact.” The change of chairs to Amy Astley, Marcella Guarino Hymowitz, Ashley Olsen, Mary Kate Olsen, Colby Mugrabi, Candice Miller and Lesley Thompson Vecsler brought a sea change of young pretty things. The Olsens, established designers of The Row, made certain the room was well presented. “They picked the music, changed the tables, designed the flowers (in pink Capezio ballet slippers). They brought more people in and made it younger.”


“We are overfilled,” Artistic Director and Co-Founder Larissa Saveliev said. “We have like a gazillion people in the wait list! People are bombarding us before the entrance for tickets.”


Saveliev mingled among the 500 guests that included: Maria Cristina Anzola, Maxim Beloserkovsky, Deeda Blair, American Ballet Theater’s Isabella Boylston, Katie Couric and John Molner, Sotheby’s Joe Dunning, Melanie Hamrick, YAGP Board Member Judith M. Hoffman, NBC’s Hoda Kotb, Karen LeFrak, YAGP Board Chair Linda K. Morse and her husband Edward, Calvin Royal III, Kelly Rutherford¬†and Olivier Sarkozy (with daughter Margot).


Hota Kotb as Gala host was the cherry on the sundae. In life, she told the room, all it takes is “one person who brings you out of the shadows and pushes you on center stage.” YAGP is the largest global network of dance, supporting dancers aged nine to 19 from all economic, ethnic and geographic backgrounds.


“Nineteen years ago we were in Martin Luther King Jr. High School,” remembered Saveliev. “And now you filled Lincoln Center,” Sarah Arison told her. “And we have the top ballet directors of different companies here tonight: from the Royal Ballet in London, the Paris Opera and Monte Carlo Ballets.”


Larissa and her husband Gennadi were dancing with the Bolshoi Ballet when they defected to America in 1993 or as she likes to put it: “I am from Russia 25 years ago and the Bolshoi 20 kilos ago. We worked for Bolshoi on a tour and we did not come back. That’s my story. We are still together and we are running this thing. And I hope you enjoy the night!”


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