From Savoy Star
March 5, 2009
“Hey! You! Judges want to see your teacher.”
This was said backstage to an out-of-breath Andrew Cribbett February 14 after his second dance performance at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competition at the Chicago 2009 semi-finals by the stage manager. She didn’t say why, she just returned to her headset.
But before we finish that part of the story, let’s take a few steps back.
It’s Saturday, Valentine’s Day, and Christine Rich, Studio Director of the Christine Rich Studio of Savoy, has cajoled the infamous Casey-the-master-ballet-teacher to watch Cribbett’s first dance: the contemporary piece. Convincing Casey to watch was no easy task. Casey never watches anyone including his own competing students. He states that he will only enter to see Rich’s choreography not to watch Cribbett.
Cribbett bounds onto the stage in a huge straddle leap and the audience gasps. He finishes to thunderous applause. Casey is now on fire with excitement and wants to coach Cribbett and begins promptly in the dressing room where he and Rich give notes to Cribbett as to what went well and what did not go well.
Audience members are buzzing. And Becky Ramos, dancer at CRS, beams with pride for her dance partner.
Now it’s early evening and time for Cribbett’s classical piece, “Variation from Le Corsaire”. He hits the stage. At first, the music was not played correctly but Luciana Rezende, the Christine Rich Studio’s ballet director, has trained him for every possibility and he holds. Music starts, he’s off and flying and leaping in the air while the audience enthusiastically claps. He exits the stage gasping for oxygen.
“Hey! You! Judges want to see your teacher.”
Cribbett informs Rich and Rezende of this after they give him many notes in the dressing room after his classical dance. What could it be?
Waiting for the judging to be over 1½ hours later, Rich grabs Rezende to convene on the judge’s table prior to the scheduled dinner break.
Introducing themselves, the “insider teacher talks” begin. The head of YAGP states in a heavy Russian accent that several of the judges – famous ballet types from the dance world – will accept Cribbett at their respective summer intensives, which you normally have to audition for but they would by-pass this requirement.
After an intense more than 25 minute discussion, the negotiations were finished and dinner break began. Rich told Cribbett nothing.
Now the award ceremony began.
Top 12 and top 3 medalists of each of the three age groups are announced onstage. Cribbett gets a 3rd place in contemporary dance. Then, scholarships are announced. Cribbett is called to the stage and they quietly tell him that he’ll have to find out what the scholarship is from Rich.
Rich made Cribbett wait until the following Monday when she called him into her office.
That’s where Cribbett found out that Mr. Kee-Juan Han, director of The Washington Ballet in Washington D.C. was offering Cribbett a full scholarship to attend The Washington School of Ballet’s upper-level summer intensive. Han is Dance Magazine’s 2008 Teacher of the Year.
Additionally, Cribbett was given a full dance scholarship to the school year in the Washington Ballet’s Professional Training Program for fall 2009 through spring 2010 as well as a full academic scholarship to The Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School for Andrew’s senior year.
After a 2 hour meeting in Rich’s office the next day, Cribbett and his custodial grandparents told Rich they would accept the scholarship. Rich then formally accepted with WBS, and Han has acknowledged the acceptance. That is customary in the dance world. It’s very old-fashioned. One director asks another director for a student — sort of like a boy asking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Then the schools only deal with each other’s directors. Rich will, according to protocol, handle setting up Cribbett’s living arrangements and the transfer of his training to the Washington Ballet School and schooling at Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School.
Andrew started training at CRS at age 6½ and did private lessons since then with Rich and Rezende. He cross-trained in ballet, jazz, acrobatics, tap, modern, hip hop and Irish. For this YAGP he did double privates weekly for contemporary with Rich and classical with Rezende.
“After seeing Andrew Cribbett dance at the Chicago YAGP, I recognized his potential and the passion he has for dancing,” Han said. “I offered him a full scholarship to our Professional Training Program at the Washington School of Ballet. His training at the Christine Rich Studio Dance Academy has served him well. Andrew is truly blessed to have such loving teachers like Christine who is willing to send him off for further training. My faculty and I look forward to working with Andrew and help him realize his dream.”