Burkett’s career already taking off Media Credit: Jarad Reddekopp

U freshman Tyler Burkett entered the Youth America Grand Prix dance competition for ballet and contemporary dancer hoping to place in the top 12. After winning the highest honor competition, Burkett has already begun to receive many job offers.

Tyler Burkett has already received multiple job offers to start a career in the one thing he can’t live without. In one month, he’s about to get more.

Burkett, a freshman ballet performance major at the U who has trained with Ballet West, recently won the Grand Prix — the highest honor in competition — at the regional Youth America Grand Prix, an annual international student ballet and contemporary dance scholarship competition.

“When I got there, I just had the mindset that I was there to win, and that’s all I had to focus on,” Burkett said.  Number 550 in competition order, Burkett performed a classical ballet piece as well as a contemporary solo choreographed by U ballet senior Christopher Peddecord, who won the Outstanding Choreographer’s Award.

Although Burkett describes his experience at the regional competition as “so fun,” he says the reason dancers go to YAGP is to be seen. The competition is attended by numerous school and dance company directors seeking the right dancers to offer scholarships and contracts. Burkett’s goal for the YAGP finals stretches beyond study scholarships and the grand prize of a contract with New York City’s American Ballet Theatre. With previous work experience in the second company of Washington’s Pacific Northwest Ballet and with currently standing job offers, Burkett is looking for a contract overseas.

“I really want to get some job offers in Europe,” he said. Confident that he is capable of receiving some offers while at the finals, Burkett admits that with this round comes much more competition. “It’s really tough in New York,” he said. “You’ve got people from all over the world.” Burkett is quick to attribute part of his anxiety to nerves, knowing very well that he went into the semi-finals hoping to place in the top 12 and left with the highest regarded award.

When asked what brought 18-year-old Burkett to the level of success he is at now, he said, “I am a really hard worker in ballet.” “I don’t only take the classes here (at the U) — I’m always taking all the extra technique classes I can with Ballet West and the Salt Lake Conservatory of Ballet,” said Burkett, who takes an extra class every day of the week, excluding Mondays, when he teaches instead. The thought of going a day without dance is nearly incomprehensible for Burkett.

“All I know is if I don’t dance, (it) is just so frustrating to me because I feel like, ‘What am I doing with my life?'” he said. “Dance has basically become a part of something I do everyday, like brushing my teeth or going to sleep,” Burkett said. “You can’t really do anything without sleep, and I can’t function without dance.”

Los Angeles Times AdvanceLos Angeles Ballet’s ‘New Wave LA’ programm

“The best part of “New Wave LA” was watching how the dancers tore up the stage. Tall and elegant Zheng Hua Li transformed himself into a rat. Tyler Burkett whipped through rhythmically perfect pirouettes; Johnston mugged at the audience and unfurled her leg in sweeping extensions. The dancers’ commitment never wavered, and that was saying a whole lot.”

DancePlug LA Ballet – NewWaveLA

“The real heroes of the evening were the dancers themselves who pressed on through a complex program loaded with dancing. They were the evening’s consistent bright spot. Particular credit goes to the men who brought real personality to their roles and danced tirelessly, grabbing lots of air time and partnering skillfully. Standouts were Zheng Hua Li and Tyler Burkett. Keyra Gonzalez delivered imaginative and striking costuming for all four pieces. The program will be repeated this Saturday May 29 and Sunday May 30 at The Broad Stage, Santa Monica. Go and see for yourself what the NEW WAVE looks like.”

Culture spot LA Los Angeles Ballet Celebration by Peny Orloff

“Go there,” they do. In performance, the dancers achieve a level of emotional intensity and an intimacy rarely seen in the theater. Grace McLoughlin and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp are heartbreakingly tender with each other throughout an extended pas de deux full of complex combinations and gorgeous lifts. For all their technical virtuosity, it is this emotional depth that sets them apart. Tyler Burkett’s solo tour de force of leaps, turns, and acrobatic floor work is dramatically motivated and completely organic. Large and powerful Nicholas De La Vega exhibits striking vulnerability, dancing with total conviction and brimming eyes.”