Japanese teen tops Youth America ballet competition in New York

JIJI

Yuma Matsuura of Japan has won the senior age division at the Youth America Grand Prix audition for promising young ballet dancers, the organizer said Friday.

As there was no Grand Prix award winner in the senior division for dancers between 15 and 19, the 15-year-old from the western Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa became the top male dancer in the division.

“I still don’t feel it’s real,” the international contest debutant told reporters in New York, where the YAGP finals were held. “But I’m happy.”

Set to become a student at Britain’s Royal Ballet School in September, Matsuura said he wanted to excel.

“I want to be a dancer that can bring a smile on everyone’s face,” he said.

Other Japanese participants also performed well at the event.

Masaki Suetsugu, 14, from Tokyo’s Toshima Ward became the runner-up in the men’s group in the junior age division for dancers 12 to 14, as did Yo Nakajima, 13, from Sumida Ward, in the junior women’s group.

Another Tokyo dancer, Reito Nashiki, an 11-year-old from Katsushika Ward, won the Hope Award, which is given to the best-performing dancer regardless of sex in the pre-competitive division for children 9 to 11.

“I never imagined I could earn the top award,” Nashiki said. “I’ll continue making efforts.”

The YAGP, the largest network of dance in the world, supports and develops world-class dancers by providing scholarship auditions and education opportunities.