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Should I compete in ballet competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix?

Jun 18, 2024 | Ballet

First ask yourself… what is my end goal? What do I want my life to look like in five years? If your goal or aspiration is to be a professional dancer with longevity, the right path for you needs to be customized. Ballet competitions like the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) offer an appealing stage for showcasing talent, receiving feedback from esteemed judges, and gaining visibility. However, the necessity of such competitions for a successful ballet career is a topic worth careful consideration. Here are several reasons why you might not need YAGP or similar competitions to achieve your goals in the ballet world.

1. Individualized Training and Development

Every dancer is unique, with different strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Competitions often require months of preparation focused on perfecting a few select pieces, which might not address your personal growth areas. Tailoring your training to your specific goals and areas for improvement can lead to a more balanced and sustainable progression in your technique and artistry.

2. Diverse Performance Opportunities

While competitions offer a platform to perform, there are numerous other ways to gain valuable stage experience. At Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, we perform regularly with extended rehearsal periods. This allows dancers to learn how to develop a character, rehearse like a company member with a large cast, no matter your role. This growth and experience allows students a versatile opportunity to prepare for the long days as a professional.

3. Mental and Physical Well-being

The pressure to perform flawlessly can overshadow the joy of dancing and may result in injuries due to overtraining one specific movement for months. Prioritizing your well-being by maintaining a balanced training and rehearsal schedule is crucial for a long and healthy career in dance.

4. Quality over Quantity in Feedback

While feedback from competition judges can be insightful, it is often limited to brief comments. In contrast, working closely with a trusted mentor, choreographer, or rehearsal assistant can provide continuous, detailed guidance tailored to your individual progress. This ongoing mentorship can help you refine your technique and artistry in a more comprehensive and supportive rehearsal environment.

5. Building a Professional Network

Networking is vital in the dance world, but it doesn’t have to be limited to competitions. Attending workshops, master classes, and summer intensives can offer valuable connections with industry professionals. These settings can foster meaningful relationships and provide mentorship opportunities that might be more influential in your career than a brief interaction at a competition.

6. Focusing on Your Artistic Voice

Competitions often emphasize technical prowess and adherence to specific standards, which can sometimes stifle individual expression. Focusing on developing your unique artistic voice and interpretative skills through a rehearsal process and having the ability to perform a variety of works can set you apart in auditions and professional settings. Cultivating your creativity and personal style is essential for a fulfilling and distinctive career.


Your path to becoming a professional dancer with longevity should be as unique as you are, tailored to your aspirations and needs. Prioritize your growth, well-being, and artistic voice, and you’ll find success on your own terms. While YAGP and other ballet competitions can offer valuable experiences, they are not the only path to a successful ballet career. Many successful dancers have forged their careers without participating in major competitions. Professional companies often look for well-rounded dancers who can adapt to various styles and roles. By concentrating on your versatility and overall development, you can become a more attractive candidate for professional opportunities. Focusing on individualized training and seeking diverse performance and learning opportunities can lead to a more balanced, sustainable, and fulfilling journey in dance.

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