Photo credit: © Susan Quinn | www.squinnphoto.com)


The Berkshire Pulse Young Choreographers Initiative (YCI) is an empowering project for young people that builds confidence, inspires collaboration, encourages creativity and allows free expression. The program began in 2016 during a summer dance intensive when a group of teen students explored choreography as a craft in two weeks of daily classes with teaching artists Susan Quinn and Ian Spencer Bell. The enthusiasm and interest with which the students met the challenge warranted continuation, and a full school year of offerings was implemented.

Today, the Young Choreographers Initiative experience consists of weekly dance making classes, annual performances of choreography in progress, collaborations with other artists and organizations in the Berkshire region and workshops on creative process with renowned choreographers, in residence at Pulse and at venues such as Kaatsbaan International Dance Center and Jacob’s Pillow.

Youth today are faced with an economic, environmental and political landscape that leaves many feeling disempowered and unheard. The Young Choreographers Initiative gives young people a voice and a forum to express their viewpoints through movement. Through this project, they become ambassadors of the art form, the process, their generation, and the community in and for which it takes place.


YCI Artists Earn Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant

Congratulations to the Pulse Young Choreographers Initiative artists Cecelia Kittross and Rubielle Nejaime who were awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Amplify program!

The funds will support these young choreographers on their newest work, The Body Project, an intergenerational piece they are creating with other teen students and adult dancers from the community about body image. The intention of this project is to better understand and to raise awareness of how this topic affects people of all ages. A culminating presentation will take place on Sunday, March 1 at 3:00 pm at Saint James Place in Great Barrington.

Kudos to the entire YCI – and particularly to Cecelia Kittross for taking the lead on this funding opportunity!

Please take a look at the resources and research the YCI participants gathered on body images and eating disorders.


Fall 2019: YCI to Attend National Young Artists Summit

The dancers of the Young Choreographers Initiative (YCI) are one of only 10 groups from across the country invited by the Creative Youth Development National Partnership to perform at the National Young Artists Summit. This event takes place in Austin, Texas on Saturday, November 2.

Our artist-activists will present their original piece, Untitled, which explores sexual assault and consent, victim blaming, disbelief in victim experiences and ways to try to prevent assault. As part of the performance, they will also share the process in which the piece was created and the purpose of its creation.

Please come see the YCI share a full-length preview of this powerful work, and support them in representing the Berkshires as they share their creativity and message on a national platform.

We are seeking your help to make this trip possible. Your donations will assist with airfare, hotel accommodations and meals for participation in this event. Total cost for each of our five artists plus two chaperones will be approximately $1,200 per person.

Saturday, October 19th
420 Park Street, 3rd Floor, Housatonic
The event begins at 3:00 pm
Q&A & reception to follow the performance
$25 suggested donation
Please RSVP to berkshire.pulse@gmail.com

For more information or to make a donation, call (413) 274-6624 or go to www.berkshirepulse.org

Or visit our GoFundMe page to make a donation.

Kimball Farms/YCI Collaboration

The Moving Life Stories Project

This Spring 2019, YCI will build on a collaboration started last year with Kimball Farms, the retirement community in Lenox. This unique, intergenerational project matches senior residents with young dancers to create movement pieces that combine poetry, prose and dance to tell the seniors’ life stories. This year, eight writers and eight young choreographers will work together to create pieces. The process will begin with Ian Spencer Bell working with the writers and will continue with Susan Quinn and Bell guiding the process of everyone working together throughout April and May, in preparation for June presentations at Kimball Farms in Lenox and Saint James Place in Great Barrington. This project is an excellent example of the profound benefits that intergenerational arts programs have for all participants. Each generation benefits from the knowledge, creativity, and experiences of the other.

Help us reach our $10,000 goal for YCI 2019 programs and projects by donating today! THANK YOU

YCI & The Arts in Recovery for Youth (AIRY) Program Collaboration

Performance Schedule: 3:00 PM
The Colonial Theatre in downtown Pittsfield
Sunday, Feb. 10, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM

“Love Yourself” at the Colonial

AIRY is a suicide prevention and peer support program for ages 13-24 in the expressive arts. Based in Pittsfield and serving youth throughout the region, AIRY offers FREE programs for teens at risk or recovering from suicidal experiences. In January and February 2019, Berkshire Pulse Young Choreographers partnered with AIRY artists to develop performance work based on their paintings and poetry. The work was performed on February 10th at the Colonial in Pittsfield MA, at a fundraising event for AIRY. The goal of this collaboration was to aid in lessening the stigma associated with suicide and to raise awareness of the issue in teens and young adults both locally and nationally. This is a pilot program. This event celebrated the arts and raised awareness about youth suicide prevention in Berkshire County. “This is really a celebration for young people,” said founder and director of AIRY, Marney Schorr. “It will give them a voice that is able to be heard in their community.” The YCI performed at the “Love Yourself” event. Their dances brought the displayed works of art to life on stage.  “The Young Choreographers Initiative met with the AIRY artists and chose pieces of their artwork to interpret in movement,” Schorr said. “It is really unique and an amazing collaboration.”

2018 Initiatives

Young Choreographers Initiative (YCI) & Kimball Farms Collaboration

Performance Schedule:

Kimball Farms: June 10, 2018; 1:30 PM
235 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240

We’ve been working with Kimball Farms, the assisted living facility in Lenox, on a program that matches residents with members of our YCI. They’re creating pieces combining poetry, prose and movement to tell the seniors’ life stories. Performances are planned at Kimball Farms, Pulse’s studios and other area venues late spring/early summer.