YoungArts Finalists Announced

When it comes to nurturing young artistic talent and confidence, a week of immersion with prestigious master teachers goes a long way. Since its founding in 1981, YoungArts has established itself as a springboard for high school artists on the rise. Covering 10 disciplines in the literary, design, visual and performing arts, the program offers participants a week of boundary-pushing mentorship and performing experience, plus eligibility for scholarships and monetary prizes that extend far beyond the weeklong program.

Nearly 200 finalists (21 are dancers) will attend the 34th annual National YoungArts Week in Miami, January 4–11. Winners (786 total) in categories of finalists, honorable mention and merit are eligible to attend regional five-day programs in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City during the first part of 2015.

At YoungArts Week, students train with renowned artists in their fields to create and perform new work in the evenings. Master dance teachers have included Bill T. Jones (who is an artistic advisor to the program), Desmond Richardson (a YoungArts alumnus), Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d’Amboise and former Bill T. Jones dancer Leah Cox, who spoke to DT earlier this year about her interdisciplinary approach to leading a YoungArts master class.

Applications for the 2016 YoungArts program open in spring 2015.

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Photo courtesy of YoungArts

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

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In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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