do you have any idea how happy i am now that ballet competition season is over? VERY HAPPY. although there’s more later in the summer, i can (almost) relax for a few weeks. this year, i went to three of the youth america grand prix (YAGP) semi-finals locations. normally people only attend one location, but i thought it’d be a good idea to go as a performance experience instead of a serious competition; as a student, i hardly get any chances to perform (we only have one show annually) and i spend the rest of my days training. so, i try to go out and perform whenever i get the chance. but this post isn’t about the dancing; it’s what i did BESIDES dancing.
las vegas, NV
the first location i went to was las vegas, NV. there wasn’t much going on and i didn’t take any pictures either. it was actually just dancing dancing dancing. i was really nervous because this was the first competition of the year, and i personally didn’t feel like my solos were ready. nothing interesting happened in terms of everything-except-dancing. at least the video of my performance is out! you can watch it here:
san francisco, CA
san francisco was much more exciting because 1/ i didn’t need to worry about the results (since i placed third in las vegas, i wasn’t allowed to place in another location to make it fairer for others), 2/ i’ve never been to SF and have always wanted to visit the city, and 3/ i met up with kaitlin from next page please! it was rainy and windy so i didn’t get a chance to explore the city as much as i’d hoped, but the overall experience was still really fun. kaitlin and i ate dim sum, explored a bookstore (obviously), and went to the hunger games exhibit! my performances also were much better than the last location, so all was well.
boston was, by far, the most fun i’ve had at a competition. it might’ve been because i wasn’t reaaaaaally part of the competition scene, only dropping by on the day i was scheduled to dance and peace-ing out right after. or it might’ve been because i was with my sister, evelyn, and she had all these exciting things planned out.
i had a night flight and arrived in boston early, bleary-eyed and sick. i took about ten vitamin c packets (joking, only like three) then my sister and i set out to our first location: tatte. it’s a cute little bakery that was so aesthetic. after that, we set out to explore some of the streets in boston. (side note: i also saw a pizza place called nino’s right across from tatte and couldn’t help but think of THE RAVEN BOYS!)
(that dude sitting on the side is hard core judging me take pictures of this bakery)
then we set out to explore the isabella gardner museum, which is very very beautiful. when we came back from to the hotel (which had miniature-sized rooms, by the way), we took a really intense nap and called it a day.
on the second day, we went to flour for breakfast since it was fairly close to the competition venue. the breakfast sandwich, although not the prettiest in pictures, was really good. afterwards, we went to the john hancock hall to check-in/register. i also walked around backstage and got into ~the zone~ of tutus and pointe shoes. we then went to eat with some of evelyn’s friends, did some shopping, snacking, and visited brattle bookshop! i found some hidden gems for a fairly great price; only $15!
day three was competition day, and also the coldest day thus far. i walked out wearing three sweaters, a coat, two pants, fuzzy socks, and boots; i was STILL cold. (how do you people survive the winter?????? i feel so spoiled with the sunny skies of california.) evelyn and i walked to get breakfast at tatte again and i left feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle the day.
i arrived at the theatre a few hours early, did my pre-performance ritual (which i may or may not share, if you’re curious to know what it is), and got ready to go. the boston location of YAGP was certainly the most interesting (and also the most crowded) of the three that i went to. the atmosphere was much different from the other places; it felt as if the competitors were supporting each other, as opposed to the usual side-eye. although i didn’t catch their names, i felt like a made a few friends and it was all moderately positive.
the people weren’t the only interesting part; there were also some technical difficulties with my solos. for the first one, i walked on stage, waited for my music, and was asked to come off since the track wouldn’t play. for most people, it’d probably make them feel MORE nervous but it actually made me feel more confident. for me, it was kind of like walking in front of a huge crowd of people and getting used to the atmosphere. the first solo was the best out of the three. in the second solo, my shoe came off. (LOL) nothing went wrong with the last one, but ironically, i didn’t perform as well as i’d originally hoped (not bad, but not good?). i find the technical faults really amusing and actually a good thing; things like that will happen in “more important” performances and learning to work around them is necessary.
right after i finished my performances, my sister and i packed our stuff and set out the train station for new york city. (the greatest city in the world! the greatest city in the world!!)
the next morning, my sister ran the new york city half marathon and i was on a quest to get cronuts from dominique ansel’s bakery. my friend and i decided to meet up at the store 45 minutes before it opened (7:15 am) but my train stopped working at a certain stop and i had to walk 20+ blocks, and her train was also delayed so we ended up getting there at 7:30 am. after a while, we realized we got the time wrong and the store actually opened at 9 am (it was at 8am during the summer when she visited) so we had to wait another hour, but it wasn’t so bad because we got a chance to catch up (even though it was FREEZING) (less freezing than boston, but still freezing).
afterwards, i went to meet with my sister at the marathon finish line (which happened to be very close to trinity church!!!!! hamilton!!!!!!!) and we set off to get lunch together. (even though i literally JUST ATE.) we got korean food to celebrate the finish of her marathon and my competitions. WHOOOOOOOO!
after lunch, we went back to her apartment and took a mini nap to refuel ourselves. then we headed out to go watch ZOOTOPIA which was absolutely phenomenal. i originally wasn’t all that interested in watching it; i saw the trailer and thought it’d just be another disney animation for entertainment purposes. BUT NO, this movie is so deep and it gave me so many feels. if you haven’t yet, GO WATCH IT.
when we walked out of the movie theatre, IT WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE. i’ve never seen real snow falling from the sky before this moment, so it was kinda monumental. we also went to barnes & noble afterwards because it was right next to the theatre and because BOOKS. we ate omakase (basically chef’s special in sushi) at sushi yakasa for dinner. my sister was super excited for it, but her boyfriend and i thought it was alright? meh, we clearly don’t appreciate it enough.
my last day in the city was dedicated to going to as many bookstores as i possible could. (total tally: three) i had an acai bowl from juice generation for breakfast (ahhh the memories) and set off to the strand bookstore. explored some, bought a few things, and moved onto to muji. i’ve never been to the muji store, but knew i HAD to visit and buy some gel pens after using the one annie gave me. there was a famous donut shop right next door (dough), so i also bought some to bring back to my sister and parents.
afterwards, i went to books of wonder, one of my favorite bookshops in the city. i was hoping to buy a signed copy of ALL AMERICAN BOYS (based on A Novel Chat‘s recommendation!) from BoW, but they didn’t have change for $100 bill which was all i had. hopefully next time! the last destination before heading back was toby’s estate coffee shop. my friend told me about the cute little place, which has a mini bookstore and flower shop in the back! it’s certainly a hidden gem. finally, i went back to evelyn’s apartment, set off to JFK, and flew home.