Nick Young has been making music with his feet his whole life. Young grew up at his mother's studio, Young Dance Academy, in Oak Creek, WI, and at competitions like New York City Dance Alliance. He caught his big break with "So You Think You Can Dance," making it to the Top 20 on Season 8. That led to three viral tap videos, teaching gigs at 24 Seven Dance Convention and NYCDA, and two appearances by himself and his company, Rhythmatic, at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards—where they won second runner-up in 2017. Catch his latest full-length work when it hits film festivals later this year, and read on to find out how Young gets inspired to create. —Helen Rolfe
"Appearing on 'World of Dance' Season 1 turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We didn't get more than a tiny bit of TV time, and one piece of feedback from the show really bothered me at first. When we were eliminated, the judges said our work needed to be more visually appealing. My initial reaction was, 'That's not what tap is!' But I slept on it, and realized: I want my work to be accessible, so it needs to be visual and tell a story. If you want to get someone who's not a tap dancer to really enjoy tap, it has to be more than a bunch of cool sounds. It's become my mission to get people who aren't familiar with tap to change their minds."
A version of this story appeared in the February 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Nick Young."