Maryland Youth Ballet Dancers Take Professional Dreams To World Competition

Local dancers participate in worldwide competition aiming at professional scholarships.

Maryland Youth Ballet Takes Eight Dancers to Semi-Finals of Youth America Grand Prix

Award-Winning Film “First Position” Featuring MYB Dancer & Principal Based on this World’s Largest Ballet Competition

By Courtney Shirley 

Eight Maryland Youth Ballet students will be taking their dreams of becoming professional dancers to the stage this weekend, as they compete in the Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in Philadelphia.   

Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) is the largest student ballet scholarship competition in the world. It awards more than $250,000 annually to winning dancers in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide.  

The Maryland Youth Ballet, a non-profit dance institution currently training more than 1,600 students age 2 to 80+, is thrilled to have its dancers, four boys and four girls, participate in the competition.

“MYB is very excited to be taking eight talented dancers to the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix competition this year,” said MYB Principal Michelle Lees.  “This will be the largest group we have ever taken. In previous years MYB has won awards for Best Teacher and for Best School.”

The semi-finals are held annually around the world – this season in Brazil, France and Japan – and in 12 cities across the US.  The final dancers will take to the stage April 17 in New York City.

The competition was recently featured in the award-winning documentary, First Position, released locally at the Bethesda Row Cinema May 11, 2012.  A film by Bess Kargman, it followed six dancers age 9 to 19 from around the world as they prepared for the Youth America Grand Prix.

MYB Dancer Rebecca Houseknecht and MYB Principal Michelle Lees were featured in the film as crews followed Houseknecht for a year as she prepared for the competition.

This year’s MYB students competing are:  Beau Chesivoir, Elena Danos, Liam Doherty, Sophie Doyle, Emilie Forest, Darcy Lawrence, Nathaniel Remez and Sam Rodriguez.

For more information on the America Grand Prix, visit www.YAGP.org



Since 1971, the mission of MYB has been to provide the highest caliber of training and performance opportunities to prepare young dancers for a career in the performing arts as well as to provide classes to dancers of all ages and levels in the community.

The MYB children’s program puts deliberate emphasis on pre-professional achievement with each level carefully crafted to provide the most comprehensive training and coaching in order to produce the high quality dancer that MYB is known for. MYB alumni are currently performing with such notable companies as American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Oregon Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Orlando Ballet, among others.

The MYB adult program, spanning levels from basic beginner through advanced, enjoys the same faculty as the children’s program, offering our adults the finest teachers of ballet, stretch, and classical core conditioning in the region.

MYB currently has more than 850 children and youth enrolled in its programs plus more than 700 adults taking classes weekly.

For more information about MYB visit: www.marylandyouthballet.org

To make a charitable donation please contact MYB’s Executive Director Alyce Jenkins at the Maryland Youth Ballet, 926 Ellsworth Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20910
or call 301.608.2232. 


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