The Young Choreographer's Festival

Are you itching to create your own work? As a budding choreographer, you probably know that the two best ways to learn your craft are to #justdoit and to watch as much work by more seasoned choreographers as possible. (And read all the handy tips that your DS editors round up, just for you! #shamelessplug)

But sometimes, watching and learning from the pros can feel overwhelming. After all, they made it to the top for a reason: Their work is awesome. When you're just starting out, it's natural to feel confident one second and full of doubt the next. (Spoiler: The pros do too!)

Enter the Young Choreographer's Festival. Held annually in NYC and organized by Emily Bufferd, the YCF is a showcase of young, driven and talented dancemakers.

(Dancers perform Wild Me, choreographed by Alexis Convento, at the 2012 YCF. (Photo by Krista Bonura)

The one-night-only performance is a culmination of months of prep, including studio time and mentorship by professional choreographers. If you're in the NYC area, you can get tickets to the Saturday, June 20 show here. It's the perfect way to get inspired.

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Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer

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