Bay Area Teen Dances Her Way to Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals

Rebecca Greenway

Students from the Westlake School for the Performing Arts in Daly City claimed top ranking spots at one of Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) regional competitions, a high-stakes ballet competition with regional events in six countries and 14 cities nationwide.

"I dance around 20 hours a week," Juliana Bellissimo, 14, said at a practice with instructor Viktor Kabaniaev Wednesday. "It's something I don't think a lot of people understand, to devote a lot of time and sacrifice for it, but it's something I love doing." 

The aspiring dancer commutes two hours to the studio five days a week for her routine, a skill that earned her the title of a Youth Grand Prix regional winner.

"I would really like to be a professional dancer," Bellissimo said, adding that while she decided she won't travel to New York City for YAGP finals this year, she'd like to be picked up by a professional company in the next three to four years. 

She wasn’t the only one from Westlake School for the Performing Arts to be given a prestigious honor by the organization.

Daly City Student Wins Ballet Competition Semi-Finals

Fellow dancer, Michelle Lin, 11, also claimed the 'Hope Award,' a high honor for those too young to officially compete in the finals.

Dancers age 9 to 19 from around the region came to compete in San Francisco's multi-day regional competition with several winners coming from the Westlake School for the Performing Arts, one of three schools awarded the "Outstanding School Award." 

Alyssa Viray, Baylie Ruiz Elizabeth Nip, Emily Moeller, Ethan Rualo, Hailey Rozzano-KeefeKiera Dorman, Jonacy Montero, Mahalaya Tintiangco-Cubales, Mia Hall, Parker Rozzano-Keefe, Sabrina Yap, Summer Brown also receiving ranks. 

"It's really inspiring to be in a group like that because we all want the best for each other," Bellissimo said. "We all work super hard so it's a good environment."[[414635593, C]]

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