National YoungArts Week Offers Aspiring Professional Dancers Tools for Their Development

YoungArts scholar Jared Brown

Before becoming a member of American Ballet Theatre's corps, Rachel Moore was lost as a young performer, at times anxious and unsure of the future of her career.

“I wish I had had more tools and a better understanding that everyone faces similar challenges…to know I was not alone," Moore says.

The support Moore was looking for is the unique experience provided at National YoungArts Week—The National YoungArts Foundation's signature program, which connects approximately 170 chosen finalists with renowned teachers and provides scholarships and performance opportunities. Its public programs have expanded in L.A. this year to include a Salon Series, with professionals like Moore.

Ballet class at 2016 YoungArts Week

Her December salon presentation covered her journey as a young performer to her transition into arts management, including her current role as president and CEO of The Music Center. The talk gave students a chance to engage in an open dialogue with her.

“Having the chance to share my experience, to give suggestions on how to manage a professional performing career while remaining true to one's artistic voice, is extremely meaningful," Moore says.

Established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison, offering scholarships in dance, music, theater, visual arts and writing, the National YoungArts Foundation now also includes photography, voice, jazz, cinematic arts and design arts. Last year's program received more than 12,000 applications, a record number. Regional programs were offered in New York in 2012, and Miami and Los Angeles in 2013.

2016 YoungArts scholar Pavithra Nagarajan performs.Sarah Lamb, a principal with The Royal Ballet and master teacher at YoungArts 2016 Miami, knows firsthand the impact of the program. “After being a first-place winner in 1998, I was also a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts," she says. “This experience opened my eyes to all of the incredible art my contemporaries were creating. I was so profoundly impressed by the breadth of talent. It exposed me to the idea that we are all part of a bigger movement."

Creating a strong alumni community, with past winners like Lamb, and a platform for encouragement and opportunity is what the foundation set out to accomplish from the start. There are more than 20,000 alumni who serve as a resource to YoungArts scholars.

The 2017 YoungArts Week, January 8–15 in Miami, features master teachers and panelists: Bill T. Jones; Nancy Turano, New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble, The Ailey School, ballet faculty; Vernon Scott, Baryshnikov Arts Center; Rosie Herrera, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre.

In addition to the main event, regional programs include: Miami (February 21–26), Los Angeles (March 28–April 2) and New York (April 25–30). DT

For more: youngarts.org

Betsy Farber is a New York City–based writer and editor who's written for The L.A. Times and Huffington Post.

Photos courtesy of National YoungArts Foundation

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