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.

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