Hundreds of young ballerinas compete for scholarships

RIVER FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of young dancers spent the weekend in the western suburbs competing for a chance to study with some of the world's most acclaimed companies.

Dancers, age nine to 19, competed for thousands of dollars in scholarships in the Youth America Grand Prix. Ten thousand students each year from across the nation and abroad get just a few minutes to make all the right moves.

"It would be so much that's my dream, there's not even words to explain how happy I'd be if I won a scholarship," Alyssa Casey, an 11-year-old dancer, said.

One judge is a master teacher in Chicago and danced with the Bolshoi Ballet.

"We look for talent, drive, passion, all about art, ballet art, students have to have rounded education and training," Alexei Moskaleno, judge and former Bolshoi dancer, said.

Students focus their studies on Youth American Grand Prix.

"We start about eight months ahead of time and choose classical and contemporary works," Alyce Brinkman, Illinois Dance Conservatory, said.

There were four sections in the competition and before each section, the curtain closes and all the young dancers have a chance to practice but at the appointed time that curtain rises and they're ready.

"It's really fun I've been doing it since I was two and I'm just happy when I do it," Abigail Kimball, and 11-year-old from Indiana, said.

When asked what he hoped would happen at the competition, one dancer said he wanted to make his mom proud.

"Do the best I can and make my mom proud...All the technique you can do and how you can push yourself to the limit and there's probably no limit, Sam Fine, an 11-year-old dancer from Iowa, said.

The young artists chosen from competitions like these move on to the finals in New York in April.
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