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By Sydney Maynard
Roseville Press Tribune
May 19, 2012

The Youth America Grand Prix is the largest student ballet competition in the world and this year a Roseville resident danced his way to the top. Luke Westerman, 11, competed with more than 5,000 dancers in the semi-final round, made it to the top 300 for the finals and came home with the gold.

Westerman has been dancing for four years and is a student of the Northern California Dance Conservatory in Roseville. This was his first competition and he took the highest prize in the men’s pre-competitive age division, which featured dancers from 9 to 11 years old.

During his one-week stay in New York City, Westerman prepared for the competition that was held on April 26 at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center.

His mother and father traveled with him and during downtime the family visited the Statue of Liberty, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

1. How did you get interested in ballet?
My dad worked at Macy’s and one of the associates that worked there told him about the Sacramento ballet.  He took me to audition to see if I could get into the Nutcracker and I got in as a cook. That was five years ago. (Since then I’ve been) a baby bunny, a party boy (and) last year I was Fritz. I saw the other company members doing amazing tricks (and) I wanted to try out a ballet class, so I did and I liked it.

2. How did you hear about the Youth America Grand Prix?
My teacher (Theodore Constant) took me to some private lessons to test me on some tricks and how many pirouettes I could do (to decide) if he was going to train me for the competition.

3. Are you proud of yourself for going so far?
Yes. I worked really hard for it and I’m happy with the results. I didn’t think I would get first place.

4. What are your plans now?
I hope I can compete next year with (Youth America Grand Prix) but this year I’m going to relocate to Houston so I can train there (with) Houston Ballet.

5. Are you going to continue with ballet as a career?
Definitely. That is definitely (going to) be my career.

Copyright © 2012, Gold Country Media

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