Calling Young Dancers: Here's Your Chance to Work With Mikhail Baryshnikov (Seriously)

Let's say you're an aspiring filmmaker between the ages of 15 and 18. It'd be pretty cool to participate in a filmmaking workshop, wouldn't it? It'd also be pretty great to, say, attend a film festival like Sundance or Telluride. But what about working with Martin Scorsese — that'd be really cool, right?

Of course, that last question was a rhetorical one. We can't imagine anything better for a young filmmaker than to work with Martin Scorese. Similarly, aspiring dancers would be equally blown away to work with Mikhail Baryshnikov and up-and-coming singers would do anything to receive guidance from Plácido Domingo.

What we've articulated is the main charter of the National YoungArts Foundation. It provides "emerging artists (age 15-18 or grades 10-12) with opportunities to work with renowned mentors, access to significant scholarships, national recognition, and other opportunities throughout their careers to help ensure that the nation’s most outstanding young artists are encouraged to pursue careers in the arts."

To date, the foundation has honored more than 17,000 young artists with over $6 million in monetary awards, facilitated in excess of $150 million in college scholarship opportunities, and put participants in touch with some of the most distinguished artists in the world, including those mentioned above.

And now the foundation is accepting applications for its 2015 funding cycle. You can read the full RFP here, but a few high-level tidbits are in order:

  • Support is offered in ten artistic disciplines, including cinematic arts, dance, design, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice, and writing.
  • Each year, up to 700 students are selected from across the country as national winners.
  • Winners receive grants of up to $10,000 each and have the opportunity to attend YoungArts programs and partake in "master classes" with internationally renowned artists, which also include workshops, interdisciplinary activities, performances, and exhibitions.
  • Citizens or legal residents of the United States or U.S. territories who are between the ages of 15 and 18 on December 1, 2014, or in grades 10-12, may apply.

This program reminds us of some of the recent work by Detroit's Sphinx Organization, which takes aspiring classical musicians and sends them on the road to play festivals with some of the greatest musicians on the planet.

The only difference, from what we can tell, is that Sphinx winners won't get to hang out with the guy who directed "Taxi Driver." (Which shouldn't matter anyway. We hear Scorsese is really a sweet guy. Really.)