Area Dancers Compete in New York

From News-Gazette
May 5, 2005

Three students of the Christine Rich Studio in Savoy recently danced at Youth American Grand Prix, the only students ballet competition in American that awards scholarships to leading dance schools in the U.S. and abroad.

The competition takes place each year in New York and is open to dance students of all nationalities 9-19 years old.

Rich’s students Becky Ramos, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Jefferson Middle School, and Andrew Cribbett, also 12 and a seventh grader at Thomasboro Grade School, placed in the top 12 in the category of ensembles for ages 12 to 18. They performed the duet, “Migeon’s Intent,” choreographed by Rich.

Becky and Andrew, who have been dancing together since they were 7, had qualified for the Grand Prix by finishing first in the semi-finals in Chicago, where Rich was named outstanding choreographer.

Also going to New York was 11-year-old Alexis Johnson, a fifth grader at Thomas Pain School in Urbana. She danced a solo contemporary piece, “Dancing Through,” also created by Rich. Alexis had placed third in the “pre-competitive” category in Chicago.

“In New York she did extremely well,” Rich said, adding that there were more than 100 children dancing in Alexis’ category.

Rich said the directors of national and international major ballet companies attend the Grand Prix, which features a gala performance by members of the American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Ballet, Complexions, Royal Ballet and other companies. The event is billed as “The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow.”

Luciana Rezende, a native of Brazil and ballet director at the Rich Studio, said many of the winners of the Grand Prix are from Brazil, Japan and Russia.

“The competition is one of the best in the country,” she said. “It’s definitely an international competition. We are really proud of our three students that we sent. They did well in New York. Because of their example, many of my students are interested in being in a competition like this and going into the professional market.”

Rich said young dancers from other countries train more intensively than do young dancers in America. “Kids from those countries are truly phenomenal in what they were doing at such a young age,” she said.

Rich plans to offer starting this summer a third level of training, called International Pre-Professional, similar to dance programs in other countries, where students take ballet classes twice a day, six days a week. As for Becky, Andrew and Alexis, they said dance keeps them active. All three want to pursue a career in dance and said dancing at the Grand Prix in New York was a learning experience.

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