Magazine article Dance Teacher

Encouraging Results

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Encouraging Results

Article excerpt

The Youth Dance Festival of New Jersey returns for its sixth year.

When Leonid and Adriana Kozlov founded the Youth Dance Festival of New Jersey six years ago, their goal was to foster artistry, not anxiety.

In keeping with this spirit of encouragement, every dancer receives a certificate of merit and written evaluations from the judges. The festival's competition winners are awarded medals and scholarships, but the Winners' Showcase, which wraps up the event, features performances by award winners and non-winners alike, as well as special guest performers. At prior festivals, these have included dancers from Buglisi Dance Theatre, Battleworks Dance Company and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, as well as past competition winners such as April Giangeruso of American Ballet Theatre and Whitney Jensen of Boston Ballet.

"Even the kids who walk away without any special recognition leave feeling good about their performance," Adriana Kozlov says. "From experiences that we had going to some other competitions, we could see how petrified the kids were and how the atmosphere was not beneficial for them. We started our festival to make it a joyful experience. We create a warm atmosphere for the participants, and a lot of them become friends. People are always cheering for each other in the wings."

The annual festival is hosted by Kozlov Dance International, a Ridgewood, NJ-based dance studio founded by former Bolshoi and New York City Ballet principal dancer Leonid Kozlov. The event attracts about 200 young dancers from across the country each year. …

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