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12-Year-Old Frisco Dancer Awarded For Her Excellence

Morgan Ligon won the Hope Award in the latest Youth America Grand Prix finals
Elite Classical Coaching’s 2022 – 2023 company. Photo: Elite Classical Coaching | Website

In early April, the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) finals were celebrated in Tampa, Florida, where a young North Texas dancer stood out among her competitors and won one of the most prestigious awards in the competition. 

At only 12 years old, Morgan Ligon, a student from the Elite Classical Coaching dance school in Frisco, won YAGP’s Hope Award, reserved for dancers who exceed all others in both classical ballet and contemporary dance within their age division.  

"She has a natural artistry about her. Some people have it. She has it! That's something I feel God has blessed her with. She was made to dance," told Elite Classical Coaching’s Director Catherine Lewellen to NBCDFW. And the feeling is mutual. Ligon moved from New York to Frisco to study ballet with Lewellen.

"When I first started, everything was pretty much a struggle," Ligon said. "So I worked every day to try and improve."

And all the effort paid off as she competed in the YAGP finals this month.

Each year, over 10,000 dancers from all around the world participate in competitions and auditions conducted by the YAGP and about 1,200 students are selected by a panel of judges to proceed to the finals in New York City. 

In addition to being the world’s largest non-profit international student ballet competition, YAGP is also a scholarship program, which is why awards from the organization are so important to up-and-coming dancers. 

"The Hope Award is also about potential,” said Lewellen. “You don't have to be perfect yet. You have to show you have the potential to be the next star."

Since its founding in 1999, over 100,000 dancers have participated in YAGP events and more than 350 alumni are currently dancing with 80 companies around the world.

"My end goal is to be a professional at a ballet company and I'd love to tour around the world performing," Ligon said. "Dancers like me, I want them to see things I'm doing are, like, possible. You can reach any goal you want."