Idyllwild Arts Academy ninth-grader Santiago Bedoya placed third among male senior dancers for both contemporary and classical in the Youth America Grand Prix. Photo courtesy Idyllwild Arts

By Don Stoll

Manager of Communications & International Student Relations at Idyllwild Arts Academy

The prestigious Youth America Grand Prix ( at Escondido’s California Center for the Arts in the middle of last month turned into a kind of all-star game for Idyllwild Arts Academy dancers. Sofia Tellez Marquez, Alejandra Alicona and Andrea Hernandez placed among the top 24 female classical dancers, with Andrea landing in the top 12, and Dayoung “Sally” Kim placing among the top 12 female contemporary dancers.

The boys fared even better, with Carlos Martinez Espinosa taking second among male senior classical dancers and Mateo Muñiz finishing second among male junior classical dancers.

Finally, Santiago Bedoya placed third among male senior dancers for both contemporary and classical. He surprised himself with his success in classical because “I twisted my ankle at the end and thought I would lose points.”

The ninth-grader from Medellín [Columbia] was thrilled that his family had watched the event live on the Youth America Grand Prix website, since he’s recently experienced some homesickness even though “when I was 10. I told my mother I’d want to go to another country to dance.”

Dancing in a country far from home may become permanent for Santiago, since Youth America Grand Prix’s top-rated dancers are coveted by the world’s finest dance schools.

“I’m hoping for The Royal Ballet, in London, or the San Francisco Ballet or the Houston Ballet — where I have a full scholarship to dance this summer.”

Santiago has been dancing long enough both to appreciate that his virtues are “musicality, technique, and turnout” — the leg’s rotation away from the front of the body, permitting greater extension of the leg — and to understand that he “should try to jump higher.

“So, it’s good that my Spring Dance Concert solo calls for a lot of athleticism.”

His smile suggests he’s excited by the challenge.

“I’m dancing to impress the girl I love with my strength.”

Editor’s note: The Spring Dance Concert was held March 14 to 16.