Shubov dances her way to international success


Photo courtesy of The Academy of Dance Arts

Shubov performs at the 2018 YAGP finals in New York City

Madison Beekman

Standing behind the stage on which hundreds of people would watch her perform, freshman Renee Shubov of Marlboro practiced her solo over and over. After her final run-through, she fixed the ribbons of her pointe shoes and stepped in front of the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) audience and judges.

“Backstage I felt really nervous, so I constantly made sure I found balance for my turns,” Shubov said. “I also made sure to have positive thoughts in my head.”

The YAGP is a global pre-professional ballet competition in which dancers compete in ballet and contemporary dance categories. Each year, the organization holds regional competitions around the world between July and March, with the final round taking place in New York in April.

Her dance teacher selects a few students every year to compete in YAGP and Shubov has won first place in the ballet category for the past two years. She also placed second in the contemporary category this year.

“The first year I won, I was completely in shock. I did not think that could even happen,” Shubov said. “I know people who win and they’re so amazing.”

Shubov took her first ballet class at age three and fell in love with it over the course of five years. Her mom then enrolled her in a new studio that focused more on ballet, Shubov said.

This studio was The Academy of Dance Arts in Tinton Falls, which has become her second home for the past six years. Here, Shubov dances six to seven days a week, three to four hours per day, training in both contemporary dance and ballet. Shubov said that many difficulties stem from the competitive atmosphere.

“My least favorite thing about dance is how it comes with comparing yourself to others,” Shubov said. “If someone’s leg goes higher than mine or does more turns than me, then I always feel like I have to compare myself to them.”

To prepare for the competition in late February, Shubov began practicing in the beginning of January. Practices were every Friday and Saturday, and Shubov even asked her teacher to add Wednesday rehearsals to the schedule.

Her mom, Irene Shubov, saw the hard work her daughter put into the competition and said she was very proud when she won for the second year in a row.

Renee practiced even harder for this year’s competition because her variation was more difficult and she put more pressure on herself,” Irene Shubov said. “I didn’t expect her to win two years in a row because there were so many talented dancers, but when she won it felt absolutely amazing.”

Shubov said she wants to continue her dance career in college and hopefully in a professional ballet company one day.

“I love performing. It’s such an accomplishment because you work so hard and it’s beautiful and then you’re just so proud of yourself,” Shubov said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and I like putting a lot of effort into something that I love.”