Call +1 (800) 820-1667

Tag Archives: Youth America Grand Prix

  • Behind the Scenes: YAGP Competition with Carolyn Lovett

    Saucer Tutus at YAGP Finals


    Whether you've participated in the competition aspect of dance or not, chances are you've at least heard of the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). The YAGP is the world's largest scholarship competition open to students 9-19 years of age.

    We know how daunting the thought of competing can be, so we decided to provide you with some tips by going behind the scenes with Ms. Carolyn Lovett, teacher, choreographer and artistic director of the Lovett Dance Center in Tustin, California.  Carolyn's students have participated in YAGP since 2004 and routinely receive some of the highest marks at the competition...

    When did you and your school first get started with YAGP and why?

    I've been involved with YAGP since 2004. For the longest time I was afraid to do Grand Prix. I always knew it was out there but it seemed to be at such a high level that I dared not enter. As a Ballet teacher who has been working for studios that compete in the regular/jazz competition scene I have been very successful but I found it to be a bit of a dead end at least for Ballet students. If I was going to grow creatively and if my students were going to have more opportunities I needed to make a change. Finally I decided to take the plunge and what a plunge it’s been. I started by entering just a few soloists and groups to learn what Grand Prix expected and desired of the dancers. It has taken some time, but I feel that we fit in very nicely now and we are receiving the opportunities that come along with it.

    What sort of awards or honors have your children and students received at these events?

    Oh my….we started receiving awards our 3rd year in.

    We have had several top 12 Pre-Competitive placements. My daughter has won twice and placed top 12 in New York City. We have several top 12 placements in the Junior Division including top 3 placements and the “YAGP Award” this year. We have many Ensemble placements including Pas de Duex’s and personally I have received the “Outstanding Teacher” award once, “Outstanding Choreographer” 3 times and this year we received the “Outstanding Studio” award. We have also been fortunate to perform with YAGP in the Spoleto Festival in Italy with an ensemble piece I choreographed on my children and another student. My students have also been awarded scholarships through YAGP. Ultimately that is what Grand Prix is about, exposing students to professionals from around the world that can offer them a road to eventual success.

    My students have received scholarships to ABT, Bolshoi, Kirov, The Rock and Australian Ballet.

    What sort of planning does an endeavor like this entail? (I'd imagine it's quite a bit!)

    What it takes is time! Time for us to figure out what solos work best on each student, time to choreograph contemporary pieces for each student, time to improve technique, time to work on the chosen solos, and time competing those solos before we get to Grand Prix. I really get started as soon as the first YAGP Regional is over. We always learn from the judge’s critics so we start on those immediately to improve the solos for New York Finals and or the next year. Grand Prix is inspiring so we all start thinking about what to next before we are even done with the current year.

    How do you go about selecting your choreography and costumes? Why did you choose Class Act Tutu? (Hee hee...I had to throw that in there.)

    Lovett Dance Center


    When it comes to choreography, I am at the mercy of my own feelings. If I am going through rough times then my work tends to be a bit moodier and dark, but when I’m feeling more positive my work is lighter and more beautiful. I’m in a positive mood this year. As for costumes, we put what we can together without a costume designer to keep costs down but I do have someone make those costumes I just can’t find through a catalog. We do have to special order our tutus well ahead of time because they take so long to make. I ordered saucer tutus from Class Act Tutu this year because they were the only company out there that makes them! I had a special piece that required the saucer and Class Act makes a BEAUTIFUL one! Very nice quality and a fun selection of colors that fit my piece perfectly. By the way, that particular piece placed 1st at YAGP regional and will be competing in the New York Finals!

    Woohoo! That's awesome! So how do the parents feel about their student's experiences with YAGP?

    I think the YAGP brings out many feelings. It can be very exciting and rewarding, but can also be disappointing for those with high expectations but lack the preparation or physical attributes required for such an endeavor. When competing in Grand Prix, it is important to remember the level of talent is exceptionally high, and in New York it's mind blowing! Grand Prix is truly International is scope so my students have been able to meet kids from all over the world. Performing along-side kids from Brazil, China, Japan, Australia and numerous others countries is enriching to say the least. Even those students who do not compete as soloists find the experience exciting and enriching. The Gala alone is worth going for and the camaraderie it brings between the parents and students can last a lifetime.

    How has your involvement with YAGP (or competitions in general) enhanced your student's training?

    It has upped the game you might say. Grand Prix has pushed me to become a better teacher, therefore my students technical level has steadily increased over time. It is also encouraging me to choreograph work that I might not otherwise create. This gives my students a greater depth of movement to master.

    Lovett Dance Center


    What advice would you give to a school or student looking to compete in their first YAGP competition?

    Be prepared! Mentally and physically prepare and be willing to learn along the way.

    Thank you so much, Carolyn and congratulations to all of your terrific dancers!

    *STOP THE PRESSES!* We've just received the following announcement from Carolyn:

    "Things went great in New York! My son and daughter, Devyn and Tiana, both made it to final rounds. Tiana placed in the top 12 junior women. Both received scholarships to Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and Devyn also received a scholarship to Washington Ballet. My boys trio "Insight" (Devyn Lovett, Sam Zaldivar and Patrick Frenette) placed 2nd in ensembles and also got to perform in the Gala! This is a piece I choreographed for Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy. was a good week!" We'd have to agree! Congratulations to you ALL!! :)


    *All photos appear courtesy of Carolyn Lovett/Lovett Dance Center*

  • Quick Tip: Adding Some "Pearls"

    Whether you are getting ready for Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), New York International Ballet Competition (NYIBC), Prix de Lausanne (Prix), International Ballet Competition (IBC), or some other ballet competition a beautiful, one-of-a-kind tutu is essential.  It can also be a real challenge.  We love to share our tutu embellishment tips and tricks to help you.

    "Pearls" for Your Tutu


    To add an elegant and lightweight "Pearl" to your tutu embellishment, just coat a cork ball with pearl nail polish.

    Nail Polish

    Voila!  You have the look without the weight.

    Class Act Tutu's "Happily Ever After" tutu was featured in the October / November Issue of Pointe Magazine and is currently for sale and on Display at the Russian Pointe Dance Boutique in Chicago.

    "Happily After Ever" Design ©CJDL Design for Class Act Tutu.

    If you are interested in design assistance for your competition tutu, please contact us.

2 Item(s)