Orlando Ballet students take 2 medals at Youth America Grand Prix

Orlando Ballet was the only American organization to bring home two medals from the annual Youth America Grand Prix competition, which took place in New York earlier this month.

Youth America Grand Prix, the world's largest student ballet scholarship competition, awards more than $250,000 annually in scholarships to leading dance schools worldwide. The competition takes place annually around the world, with the finals in New York City, and is open to dance students of all nationalities 9-19 years old.

Orlando Ballet School students Jessica Assef, Mario Chimal and Blake Kessler won a gold medal in the ensembles category. They danced to "Bach Trio," choreographed by ballet company member Arcadian Broad.

In the pre-competitive division, for dancers age 9-11, Bella Kirby won a bronze medal.

Student Austen Acevedo also made a strong showing, finishing in the Top 6 in the junior men division for dancers age 12-14.

Now in its 14th season, Youth American Grand Prix has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships. More than 25,000 dancers worldwide have participated in YAGP's international workshops, competitions and audition classes. More than 300 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 50 companies around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.

The organization's contributions to international dance education were recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with a membership in UNESCO's prestigious Conseil International de la Danse (CID).

For a list of the 2013 winners, go to

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