Metropolitan Ballet Academy Student Dancers Excel in Youth America Grand Prix 2011

Peter Weil in Excursions, YAGP 2011

Phoebe Gavula (Glenside) Wins Top Honor in Philadelphia Regional Semi-Finals;
Peter Weil (Jenkintown) and Kamryn Baldwin (Blue Bell) Win Second Place Honors;
Artistic Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic Wins the Outstanding Teacher Award in Philadelphia
18 Students Perform in New York City Finals and MBA Children’s Ensemble Places in Top 12

Metropolitan Ballet Academy (MBA) student dancers from the Philadelphia region garnered significant honors in the 2011 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 the Top Honor as well as Second and Third Place awards at the 2011 Regional Semi-Finals held this spring in Philadelphia, PA and Torrington, CT.

18 MBA students went on to compete in the YAGP New York City Finals, March 17-22, 2011, 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 YAGP NYC Finals, 16 young dancers (ages 10-14) performing the Children’s Mazurka in the MBA Children’s Ensemble placed in the Top 12 in the ensemble category; the Ensemble had previously won Second Place in the Philadelphia Semi-Finals. The Ensemble included Juan Castellanos (10, Philadelphia), Justin Geiss (11, Furlong), Christian Lavallie (11, Abington), Pearle Ramke (11, Jenkintown), Maria Sperger (11, Glenside), Adam Weil (11, Jenkintown), Kamyrn Baldwin (12, Blue Bell), Darius Black (12, Voorhees ), Sophie Lane (12, Elkins Park), Marielle Silberman (12, Wyncote ), Lucas Tischler (12, Elkins Park), Tatiana Di Bucci (13, Rydal), Nancy Wenger (13, Newtown), Thomas Leonard (14, Rose Valley), Katherine Locke-Brubaker (14, Hatboro), and Peter Weil (14,  Jenkintown).

Also in NYC, Glenside resident Phoebe Gavula (age 16), who won the Top Honor in the Philadelphia Semi-Finals, was selected to perform in the prestigious final round of senior women. Ms. Gavula and Jenkintown resident Peter Weil (age 14) were also presented with scholarship offers. In Philadelphia, Mr. Weil won Second Place in the Contemporary Dance Category, Junior Age Division; and Blue Bell resident Kamryn Baldwin (age 12) won Second Place in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division.

Other noteworthy performances in the YAGP Semi-Finals included: Daniel Shevelev (11, Huntingdon Valley) won Third Place in the Pre Competitive Category (CT); Leah McCormick (17, Jenkintown) placed in the top 18 for Classical Dance Category, Senior Age Division (PA); Devon DiBello (14, Rydal) performed in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division (PA); Darius Black (12, Voorhees) performed in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division (PA); Nancy Wenger (13, Newtown) performed in the Classical Dance Category, Junior Age Division (PA); Leela Breitman (15, Huntingdon Valley) performed in the Classical Dance Category, Senior Age Division (PA); and Sara Vander Voort (16, Feasterville) performed in the Classical Dance Category, Senior Age Division (PA).

Additionally in Philadelphia, MBA Founder and Director Lisa Collins Vidnovic won the 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 Phoebe Gavula for her significant achievement of winning the Senior Grand Prix award, as well as Daniel Shevelev, Kamryn Baldwin, Leah McCormick, Peter Weil, and the children in the Ensemble on their well-earned accomplishments.”

Youth America Grand Prix is 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.

Upon audition, many MBA students gain performing experience with the affiliated nonprofit Metropolitan Ballet Company (MBC), also founded and directed by Vidnovic, who was previously a dancer and Ballet Mistress with Pennsylvania Ballet. Among its many local and regional performances for schools, senior citizens, and the community, MBC is a distinguished member of Regional Dance America (RDA). In recognition of the company’s consistent selection to perform at the prestigious RDA Gala since becoming an RDA member company, MBC was recently named an RDA Honor Company.

“Metropolitan Ballet Company’s elevation to a Regional Dance America Honor Company is yet another testament to the hard work and dedication of our young dancers, who continue to excel as they study and perform classical dance in our own community and other cities. These are wonderful young people and we should all be proud of them.”

Phoebe Gavula at YAGP 2011

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 Regional Dance America Festivals, and more.


About Steven Weisz

A Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with advanced degrees in Psychology and Education is an entrepreneur and CEO for several for-profits and non-profit corporations in the region. He is also an adjunct professor of Psychology with several local Universities.

Steven is currently the CEO of Delaware Valley on Line, one of the first regional Internet Service Provides that now focuses on business-class web hosting, design, and internet marketing. He is president and founder of Rainbow Promotions Inc., a special events and entertainment agency established in the late 70’s, that services corporate and retail accounts both locally and nationally.

Steven is the Founder of, the largest web presence and resource for the dance community in the greater Philadelphia region, and the Founder and Editor of The Dance Journal. His involvement in the dance community extends to being Director of Graffito Works, an international platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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