Calvin Royal III and Katherine Williams, both stars of American Ballet Theatre (ABT), were the guests of honor at an elegant informal cocktail party at the new Amagansett residence of Elizabeth Jacoby and Richard Brand celebrating Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the largest scholarship organization for young ballet dancers.
Katie Couric, a guest, delighted everyone when she began an impromptu q and a with the dancers, “I just can’t help myself. I’ve so many questions. What did YAGP do for you? Where did you come from? Where would you be without them?” Calvin Royal III explained how he came to dance at 14 (very late for a professional ballet dancer). “I was at a school in Tampa, Florida, where I grew up. My grandmother gave me an electric keyboard and I loved it. It led me to dance lessons at school but without YAGP I’d probably still be a musician playing in Florida.
[YAGP’s founder] Larissa Saveliev got the attention of the teachers at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, which ABT runs, and the rest is my history.” Said Saveliev, “We got Calvin up on stage and Franco De Vita, the director of the JKO School just knew. He kept saying, ‘there’s something about that boy with the magic hands’.” Katherine William, an ABT soloist, echoed his enthusiasm. “When you come from a small school the opportunities are limited. YAGP helps put one on a bigger stage.” Offered Saveliev, “we got her in front of Raymond Lukens, then at the Boston Ballet School, who could see her talent. When she transferred to ABT he took her again. Now everyone sees that she is a beautiful dancer.” Couric posed with Royal and Williams in a classic battement tendu en avant pose (Calvin’s beautiful hands clearly evident.).
Elizabeth Jacoby, the hostess, very pregnant, in keeping with Covid protocol, held her party outside on their deck on the dunes. All the guests offered proof of vaccination. A small candlelight dinner followed with an organic farm to table menu by Home Grown Meals. Besides ballet, baby names were a favorite topic (it’s going to be a girl!).
Youth America Grand Prix is the world’s largest global network of dance, reaching out to over 12,000 dancers, 9 to 19, annually with auditions on multiple continents and across America. Over 450 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 80 companies around the world including ABT, NYC Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami Ballet, the Bolshoi, Washington Ballet, among others. For more information visit www.yagp.org.