Greenwich Ballet Academy thriving in town

Artistic Director Yuri Vodolaga with YAGP participants, from left, Celia Volkwein, Ester Wells, Lindsey Wales, Juliette Bosco and Elisabeth Beyer.

Artistic Director Yuri Vodolaga with YAGP participants, from left, Celia Volkwein, Ester Wells, Lindsey Wales, Juliette Bosco and Elisabeth Beyer.

Age is just a number for the Greenwich Ballet Academy (GBA), which recently announced “major successes at the Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Final” in Hartford.

Three GBA dancers placed high enough to advance to the finals in New York City, and one received the highest honor available at the regional level.

The Greenwich Ballet Academy nurtures talented young students toward careers in professional ballet, taking great care in directing each of its students on an individual path toward excellence.

“This achievement affirms the academy’s goal to give students the skills and stage experience they need to achieve their dreams of being professional dancers,” said the academy’s chairman, Tina Volkwein. “We are proud of the hard work our teachers and students have dedicated to making these accomplishments possible.”

Ester Wells of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., was presented with the Youth Grand Prix award for excellence in both classical and contemporary ballet. The award is the highest honor at the regional level, placing her in the top place overall in the Junior Division. The award was also remarkable in that it was the second time in the academy’s short, seven-year history that a GBA student has won the award.

In the Pre-Competitive Division, Juliette Bosco of Fairfield placed second and Elisabeth Beyer of Rye, N.Y., placed in the top 12. All three GBA winners scored high enough to advance to the finals. The three students will have an opportunity to perform their winning variations one more time in front of audiences at GBA’s upcoming Graduation Gala performances on June 15 at 2 and 7:00 p.m. at Greenwich Academy. Visit for information and tickets.

The Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) is the world’s largest student ballet scholarship competition and awards more than $250,000 annually in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. The competition is held annually around the world and in New York City, and is open to dance students of all nationalities from age nine to 19.

This competition was launched in 1999 by two former dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, YAGP is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created with a mission to provide extraordinary educational and professional opportunities to young dancers, acting as a stepping stone to a professional dance career.

“Our success at the Youth America Grand Prix underscores the value of the Greenwich Ballet Academy’s personalized instruction method using renowned professionals to teach small classes so that each student receives the personal attention and instruction they need to reach their ultimate potential,” said GBA Artistic Director Yuri Vodolaga. “The Grand Prix’s reputation as a showcase for dance students from around the world means that advancing to the New York City Finals provides a huge boost to their professional dance opportunities, and that is one of the academy’s goals.”

In addition to the students’ accomplishments, the YAGP judges presented Mr. Vodolaga with the Outstanding Teacher’s Award, accepted by him on behalf of all the Greenwich Ballet Academy’s faculty. The honor is especially noteworthy considering that 90 schools were represented in the semifinal event.

In 14 seasons, YAGP has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. More than 25,000 dancers worldwide have participated in YAGP’s international workshops, competitions and audition classes. And more than 300 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 50 companies around the world, including the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, among others.

Training for YAGP is just one of many opportunities offered by GBA to its students. Recently, GBA students were given a master class by two ballet dancers at the pinnacle of their careers, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, principal dancers at American Ballet Theatre and around the world. Other legendary dancers who have given master classes at GBA include Allegra Kent, Leslie Browne and Irina Dvorovenko.

More information about the academy and its programs is available online at

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