Nine-year-old first ever Maltese dancer to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix
Nine-year-old dancer Lea Ellul Sullivan, who has been training at ArtsExcel dance school for the past five years, is set to become the first ever Maltese dancer to compete in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) – an international dance competition with entries from as far afield as Japan, Brazil and Australia. Lea’s first trial will be at the Paris Semifinals between 9 and 13 November, before she finds out if she’s made it through to the Finals in New York.
The YAGP, which is the world’s largest global dance network, supports and develops world-class dancers aged between nice and 19 from various economic, ethnic and geographic backgrounds through scholarships and auditions, as well as educational and outreach activities, among others. By qualifying, Lea will now be stepping into the shoes of many past alumni of the YAGP, including Melissa Hamilton from The Royal Ballet and Denis Matvienko from the Bolshoi Ballet.
“Lea started training at an international level at the School,” says Marisha Bonnici, the artistic director at ArtsExcel. “She has always shown great potential and she has the will and the artistry to go far. As per our school’s ethos – which is that if you really want it, we will push you to achieve it – we have helped Lea gain invaluable training and exposure abroad, including in San Remo, Prague, Bari, Livorno, and with the Ballettschule Theatre School in Basel.
“The Classical Faculty at ArtsExcel, which includes Mireille Coleiro and Tamara Micallef, ensures the training each student receives is of a high level in order to give the students the opportunity to succeed… Teaching students who want to succeed is an absolute pleasure, and we’re incredibly proud of what all our students have managed to achieve so far!”
Lea will be competing in the precompetitive category with a Classical and Contemporary solo against another 100 dancers from Romania, France, the UK, Germany and Italy, among many other nations. The young dancer was nominated for the elite competition by ArtsExcel after various international teachers and judges believed she could make the cut. She has since trained incessantly for the Semi-finals, which will take place at the Paris Opera Theatre. While there, she will also attend Masterclasses with world-renowned tutors as part of the competition.
“We believe Lea has what it takes to make Malta proud and, above all, do her very best,” Ms Bonnici continues. “Whatever happens, however, she is already competing at such a high level, so even just being given this opportunity is an achievement in itself! Even so, we are committed to nurturing the talents of all our students, and we’re happy to see so many of them achieve their dreams.”
The YAGP Finals, which will take place in New York in April 2017, offer dancers innumerable opportunities and scholarships with some of the best dance and ballet schools from all across the globe. Lea will find out if she’s made it through on Sunday 13 November and, until then, we all wish her the best of luck!