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
"Spotify Discover has me listening to artists I'd never heard of, like Lake Street Dive. I like music that isn't a single time signature, so a friend sent me a live acoustic version of 'Heavy,' by Birdtalker. I saved it to Spotify, and a week later got an amazing song called 'Blue Healer' in Discover. I knew I wanted to choreograph to it the second I heard it. Birdtalker's stuff is deep, with really smart lyrics."
A version of this story appeared in the February 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Nick Young."