Teen Choreographers Take NYC

For fledging choreographers, NYC is the place to showcase work. And each summer, members of the Young Dancemakers Company get to do just that. Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, YDC brings together talented teen choreographers from NYC's public schools for a month-long workshop. The teens create their own works, which they perform at free concerts throughout the city.

This summer's 16-member company includes Hector Medina and Zaire Michel. Hector, whose focus is drama, has been taking ballet for the past two years at Talent Unlimited High School, where he'll be a senior this fall. Zaire has been dancing for 11 years, focusing on ballet, tap and jazz, and will be a senior at Fordham High School for the Arts. Hector and Zaire spoke to DS about their time with YDC. —Katie Rolnick


Dance Spirit: Why did you start choreographing?

Zaire: Just like scientists experiment to find new medicines, I wanted to experiment with different moves.


Hector: You get all these different ideas in your mind, but this is the rare opportunity to put what's in your mind on a stage.


DS: Tell us about the pieces you're creating at YDC.
Zaire: My piece is based on the seven deadly sins and corruption in society. I take the definition of each sin and interpret it in the choreography. Wrath has sharp movements and lust is about the way that your body molds and moves.


Hector: I'm joining the Marine Corps next year. Before you do anything big like that, you get different ideas about what's going to happen. Maybe I'll feel guilty and have to deal with what I do for the rest of my life. Or I'll get there and not be able to perform my duties. I put these ideas together in creating this piece. There are three pairs of dancers and each pair has a different emotion that the war brings to them. The angry movement is sharp and structured. The guilty choreography is pulled down to the ground with flowing movements. And the pacifist choreography has a lot of jumping away.


DS: What have you learned as members of YDC?

Zaire: I’ve learned how my body operates. I can move it in more ways than front, back and to the side. You can twirl, unravel--all these wiggly loose movements.


Hector: At school I’m a drama major so I don’t dance as much as I do here. It’s tiring and takes a lot of work, but I’m surprised at how far I’ve come.


DS: What does it feel like to know that your choreography is being shown in NYC?

Zaire: I’m happy I get to show other people my choreography. Usually it just stays in school or a community center--not where other dancers or people who are interested in the arts will see it.


Hector: With YDC we’ve gone to see performances at the Joyce and the Metropolitan Opera. Sitting in the audience, it’s exciting to think people will be watching your work like you’re watching the work of Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins and Martha Graham.



Don't miss the 2010 YDC performances in NYC (they're free!). Click here for information about show dates and locations.



Photo of the 2010 YDC by Bruce Fuller.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search