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Metropolitan Ballet Academy Student Dancers Excel in Youth America Grand Prix 2013

Met Ballet Toward the Light
Metropolitan Ballet Company dancers in Kanji Segawa’s  “ Toward the Light ” 
Photo by E.A. Kennedy, III

Metropolitan Ballet Academy (MBA) student dancers from the Philadelphia region garnered significant honors in the 2013 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the world’s largest international student ballet scholarship competition. Young dancers from the Jenkintown-based pre-professional ballet studio captured First, Second and Third Place awards at the 2013 Regional Semi-Finals held this winter in Philadelphia, PA.

26 MBA students went on to compete in the YAGP New York City Finals, April 12-18, 2013, where finalists selected from semi-final rounds conducted all over the globe competed for more than $250,000 in scholarships to 30 of the world’s leading dance schools, as well as job offers from companies in the U.S. and abroad.

In the Philadelphia Semi-Finals, soloist awards included Peter Weil (16, Jenkintown), who won Second Place in the Classical Dance Category, Senior Age Division;  Kamryn Baldwin (14, Glenside) who won Second Place in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division; Rydal resident Devon DiBello (age 16) who placed in the top 12 in the Classical Dance Category, Senior Age Division; and  Michelle Quiner (14,  Chester, NJ) and Justin Geiss (13, Furlong),  both of whom placed in the top 12 in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division.   Mr. Weil and Ms. Quiner were also awarded Second Place for their performance of the Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle.

In the YAGP NYC Finals, a total of 26 young dancers (ages 10-22) performed.  Ensembles included Toward the Light, which previously won First Place in the Philadelphia Semi-Finals, The Boys’ Dance from The Life of King Arthur, A Medieval Fantasie, which previously won Third Place in the Philadelphia Semi-Finals,  A Dance from La Fille Mal Gardee, which previously placed in the top 12 in the Philadelphia Semi-Finals, and the pas de deux, Spring Waters, which previously placed in the top 12 in the Connecticut Semi-Finals.

MBA students performing in NYC included Kamryn Baldwin (14, Glenside), Leela Breitman (17, Huntingdon Valley), Juan Castellanos (12, Philadelphia), Eoin Daly (12, Philadelphia), Devon DiBello (16, Rydal), Tyler Diggs (11, Holland),  Archer Euler (11, Souderton), Leah Friedman (16, Richboro), Justin Geiss (13, Furlong), Marguerite Gelfin (11, Wyncote),  Hannah Henderson (12, Huntingdon Valley), Sophia Lane (14, Elkins Park), Christian Lavallie(13, Abington),  Sierra Levin(16, Doylestown), Katherine Locke-Brubaker (16, Hatboro),  Ashley Myerson (17, Cheltenham), Damani Pompey (22, NY,NY),  Savannah Quiner (10, Chester, NJ), Micah Sell (10, Philadelphia),   Kyle Schoener (13, Chalfont), Daniel Shevelev (13, Huntingdon Valley), Jonathan Tavares (22, Philadelphia),  Kieran Versaw-Barnes (12, Elkins Park), Charles-Henry Wache (10, Maple Glen), Nancy Wenger (15, Newtown), and Brianna Yarnoff  (14, Meadowbrook).

In NYC, Ms. Baldwin was selected to perform in the prestigious final round of junior women at Lincoln Center.  Both Ms. Baldwin and Ms. DiBello were presented with scholarship offers.  It should also be noted that Mr. Weil declined his invitation to continue to the NYC finals in order to accept a position in the prestigious trainee program at Boston Ballet, following his Philadelphia performances.

Other noteworthy performances in the YAGP Semi-Finals included: Sierra Levin (16, Doylestown) who performed in both the Classical and Contemporary Dance Categories, Senior Age Division; Sophie Lane (14, Elkins Park) who performed in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division; and Rafaella Rader (13, Philadelphia) who performed in both the Classical and Contemporary Dance Categories, Junior Age Division (CT).

Additionally in Philadelphia, MBA Founder and Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic won the 2013 award for Outstanding Teacher.

Vidnovic said, “I am so proud of our students, who have worked extraordinarily hard to achieve this great honor, and thrilled to have been recognized by the esteemed panel of judges and the Youth America Grand Prix organization for my work as a teacher. I would in turn like to recognize our generous, knowledgeable and dedicated faculty, this wonderful group of students, and the devoted and supportive parents behind each of them. The entire Academy congratulates Kamryn Baldwin for her significant achievement of performing in the esteemed Final Round, as well as Devon DiBello and all of the students in the Ensembles on their well-earned accomplishments.”

Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to the world’s leading dance schools. More than 25,000 dancers worldwide have participated in YAGP’s international workshops, competitions, and audition classes, and more than 200 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 50 companies around the world, including such acclaimed companies as American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.

About Metropolitan Ballet Academy
Metropolitan Ballet Academy combines professional expertise with a genuine sensitivity to children and an appreciation of the special needs of the young dancer. Lessons in Classical Ballet technique are combined with exercises designed to foster musical awareness. Within a positive and encouraging atmosphere, children are taught to develop their unique artistic qualities. Aspects of many schools (Vagonova, Bournonville, Balanchine) are incorporated into the more advanced lessons and supported by the teaching of actual repertoire. Master classes from working professionals in a variety of dance disciplines (Modern, Jazz, etc.) are offered throughout year as well as an inspiring and challenging 5-week summer intensive program. Many of our area’s most well-known dance professionals visit as guest faculty. Summer program classes include ballet, pointe, men’s technique, variations, partnering and repertoire as well as character, modern & jazz. Metropolitan offers all students high-quality, professional training with our outstanding faculty. Serious students and advanced dancers are supported with additional opportunities, including work with nationally-recognized choreographers, performances with Metropolitan Ballet Company, participation in the Explorations Program and more.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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