Twelve dancers from the Baton Rouge area will be traveling to Houston from Feb. 9 to 11 to test their abilities against hundreds of other hopeful dancers from across the country at the regional Youth America Grand Prix.

The grand prix is one of the most widely recognized ballet competitions, and selected dancers from the Houston semifinals will participate in the finals in New York, where thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded, as well as some jobs. 

The Baton Rouge area dancers are from St. Amant, Prairieville and Denham Springs, and all are students in the Dancers’ Workshop. Participating dancers are Jada Alfred, Anna Baumgartner, Leah Cox, Vivian Dille, Lena Laroussi, Molly McMaster, Abigail Melancon, Kendyll Monceaux, Caroline Petty, Riley Richard, Adrienne Simmons and Maeve Zeldon. The dancers are coached by Rebecca Acosta and Christine Perkins. They make up the largest group from the area to participate in this competition to date.

In Houston, each dancer will perform a short work, called a variation, for a panel of judges.

“These girls have been rehearsing to perfect their variations for months, and it all comes down to how they perform for no more than 1.5 minutes of dancing,” says coach  Perkins. “It’s an enormous amount of pressure. The girls are very excited and a little bit nervous to put themselves on this wider stage, but it’s been such an opportunity for artistic growth for all of them.”