In 2020, I was tapped to be one of the judges for the Young Artist Showcase. It was a fantastic and memorable experience. It is exciting to be asked back to judge again this season. Audrey Weisiger developed a phenomenal program with a continually growing audience and number of participants. Even the pandemic could not stop this extraordinary program from blooming again this spring.
According to YAS creator, the iconic Audrey Weisiger, this year’s YAS program, the Quest for Creativity (Q4C) involves the submission of a one-time choreography video for young skating choreographers, who are 21 and younger. These creatives are individuals who wish to pursue choreography. The submission involves sending one video of their work which must be under 4-minutes in length.
The video with the most votes from the selection committee will be notified by Friday, May 15th. The winner will be named the “Emerging Choreographer” at CORE Camp in July and have the opportunity to create an ensemble piece consisting of 5-10 skaters while onsite at Camp.
According to Audrey, “The Young Artists Showcase debuted in 2010, when I decided I wanted to offer a virtual contest for choreographers. I had envisioned this concept many years prior to making it happen, but it wasn’t until I stepped away from full-time coaching that I was able to bring the project to life. I was inspired by the work of my friend, the late Brian Wright, who used to create the most amazing pieces of choreography and often his inspiration came from the oddest places. He once told me he was using ‘lampshades’ as his inspiration while choreographing a fantastic piece for a dance team!
“This wonderful idea to create an online contest for choreographers came to me; let’s give contestants a challenge and see what they can create (think Project Runway, or Top Chef). However, I was clueless as to how to use YouTube or editing technologies. Luckily, I asked the younger generation of skaters and coaches and they helped bring my vision to fruition. You can still go on YouTube and view most of the pieces by the artists and hear the judges’ reviews. Over the years, we’ve had many versions of YAS and thanks to sponsorships, in the past, we had live in-person showdowns with the two finalists.
“I had a full circle cosmic connection moment during the 2021 World Championships when Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue were competing and former YAS Champion, Mark Hanretty, was doing commentary. It was a special connection because the three of them had met during the YAS Finals in Lake Placid when Madison and Zach were the assigned talent that Mark used to choreograph his work.
“Some of the original judges, including Doug Webster, Kurt Browning and Sarah Kawahara, are still supporting the contest and thanks to Kate McSwain, Garrett Kling and the American Ice Theatre, YAS continues to help developing artists to learn and display their creativity. Many former YASers are now prolific choreographers and I am proud to have supported them in their journeys as artists.”
Needless to say, I am looking forward to judging these wonderful budding choreographers’ work.
The session is over and the Zamboni is coming out.