Young Choreographers Program
Young Choreographers Workshop (YCW) and Initiative (YCI) were established in 2016 as a platform for students, ages 12-21, to create works that give voice to the issues affecting their generation, connect with community members outside of Pulse, and address important topics such as anxiety, body image, isolation, and joy.
Young Choreographers Workshop
Open level, ages 12+
This class offers students an opportunity to expand their own movement vocabulary while deepening their skills in spatial design, dynamics, rhythm, and form. We will hone improvisational and collaborative skills by crafting dance in solo and group forms while at the same time uncovering how movement and space are both personal and political. Participation in the Young Choreographers Workshop requires taking at least one other technique class per week, such as Ballet, Modern, Jazz, or Breaking.
Young Choreographers Initiative
By placement, ages 14+
Participation in this class is by invitation only. Students must commit to attending the session for the entire year and can look forward to creating work in collaboration with their peers. Since participation and partnership is an important part of this class, young artists may not miss more than 2 classes a semester. YCI participants can anticipate developing their leadership and showing initiative, which will require homework and rehearsal outside of regular class time. They will also be counted on to communicate with the director and their peers to fulfill their planning. We will discuss all expectations in a mandatory family meeting during the first thirty minutes of the first class of the session.
Young Choreographers Initiative (YCI) is an empowering ongoing project for graduates of our YCW program that builds confidence, inspires collaboration, encourages creativity, and allows free expression. The YCI experience consists of weekly dance-making classes, annual performances of choreography in progress, and collaborations with other artists/organizations.
YCI began in 2016 during the Summer Dance Intensive when a group of young students explored the craft of choreography in classes with teaching artists Susan Quinn and Ian Spencer Bell and wanted to learn more. YCI has since expanded to include weekly dance-making classes, annual performances of works-in-progress, collaborations with area artists and organizations, and special workshops with renowned choreographers.
In past years, the YCI has focused on a variety of areas, including movement and activism and collaborating with artists in other mediums. In 2020, YCI choreographers Rubielle Nejaime and Cecilia Kittross created The Body Project, an intergenerational piece with other teen students and adult dancers from the community about body image. They received an Amplify! grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support presenting their work at St. James Place. The YCI also participated in a project led by teaching artists Tom Truss and Susan Quinn called Moving Life Stories sharing culture and history at an evening of words and movement with Volunteers in Medicine clients. When the pandemic started, the YCI switched gears and met online with YCI alumni to create a video work moving from inside of their respective homes to the outdoors. In the Spring of 2021, they created a quartet and collaborated with composer/musician Jackson Whalan about the isolation of COVID and the joy of being able to dance together again. In 2023, YCI performed their piece “If Anything Happens” at Mass Cultural Council’s Creative Youth Development Teaching Artist Showcase and Community Day in Boston. This work explored the impact of gun violence in schools.
In 2019, YCI’s piece Untitled about sexual assault was selected from 1 of 10 works across the nation to perform at the National Youth Artist Summit in Austin, TX. At this conference organized by teens for teens only, the YCI also led a workshop on sexual assault and consent. Other collaborations have included connecting with artists in Arts in Recovery for Youth (AIRY)–a suicide prevention and peer support program based in Pittsfield–and developing choreography based on their paintings for a fundraising event. YCI has also partnered with Kimball Farms (the retirement community in Lenox) on The Moving Life Stories Project where they were matched with senior residents to create pieces that combine poetry, prose, and dance to tell the seniors’ life stories.
What Young Artists are Saying About the Value of Being in YCI
“I feel comforted by the knowledge that I will always be welcome at Berkshire Pulse. No matter how far I go, it will always be a home to me.” – Cecilia Kitross, YCI Alumni
“I was pushed to become more–an artist. My confidence flourished, and I learned the importance of my voice being heard.” – Rubielle Nejaime, YCI Alumni
YCI/YCW Performance Archive
Click the links to watch performance videos.
- “If Anything Happens” at Berkshire Pulse’s Spring Celebration at the Daniel Arts Center: May 27 & 28, 2023
- “If Anything Happens” at Mass Cultural Council Creative Youth Development Teaching Artist Showcase and Community Day: May 6, 2023
- حفلة at Jacob’s Pillow Community Day: June 11, 2022 (starting at @13.53)
- حفلة at Berkshire Pulse’s Spring Celebration at the Daniel Arts Center: May 27 & 28, 2022
- “438” in collaboration with Jackson Whalan at the Arts Alive! Opening at Chesterwood: June 19, 2021
- “438” in collaboration with Jackson Whalen at the 2021 Spring Celebration: May 28 & 29, 2021
- “Rooted” at Berkshire Pulse’s Spirits of the Forest at Chesterwood: October 31, 2022
- The Body Project at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, MA: March 1, 2020
- “Untitled” at the National Young Artist’s Summit in Austin, TX: November 2, 2019 (Earlier video version here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=515054962734116 | Video Director: Mark Farrell)
- Moving Life Stories in collaboration with Kimball Farms at Kimball Farms in Lenox, MA, and Saint James Place in Great Barrington, MA: June 15 & 16, 2019
- YCI performs “Equilibrium” and “Divided” at AIRY’s Love Yourself at the Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA: February 10, 2019 | Community & Education and Awareness Event & Opening Reception in Celebration of Youth Recovery and Suicide Prevention
- Young Choreographers Initiative Fall Workshop Showing at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, MA: December 9, 2018
- Young Choreographers Workshop Showing at Berkshire Pulse: December 6, 2017