Alexis Caruso - From Competitor to Choreographer
In my first year competing, I was nine years old, the youngest of Illinois Ballet Theatre at the time. YAGP showed me how much talent there was outside of my home studio, and it opened my eyes to see the discipline and sacrifice involved to attain what the older girls were accomplishing. The talent that I saw each year at YAGP inspired me to want more for myself as a dancer to achieve my personal best. This ultimately became the same goal I maintained when I was dancing in a company. YAGP gave me the confidence, and physical and emotional strength necessary to perform major ballets. I still remember aspiring to follow in Sherry Moray's footsteps when I won the Hope Award. Upon receiving my award, the judges asked me what company I would like to dance with one day, and I blurted out, "I would like to dance with Stuttgart Ballet one day!" For a nine-year-old, those were some pretty big dreams. Training for YAGP taught me more about myself as I reflect on the perseverance and discipline required to be a part of that stage.
My experiences at YAGP and the discipline of training competitively have helped me persevere in my career today.
Because I have experienced YAGP from the wings, it is exciting to have the opportunity to bring my perspective to the young dancers I work with privately. As a teacher now, my main goal is for the dancer to see their improvement each year they compete. It is not about winning award after award but accomplishing their own personal best for themselves. Yes, it is exciting to win awards like any other sport, but simply winning does not always bring you to your end goal. The performance aspect YAGP gives dancers is unlike any other because you receive direct feedback from dance professionals from prestigious ballet companies worldwide. The dance world is small, and worldwide recognition is beneficial because you never know who will remember you from YAGP in an audition one day. Although my dance career was cut short, my experiences at YAGP and the discipline of training competitively have helped me persevere in my career today. I credit striving for my personal best in ballet towards my current dedication of grad school.
This year, I have two girls that I work with privately competing individually, and I am choreographing a group piece for 13 young girls aged 9-11.