young dance collective

young dance collective (YDC) was founded in 2001. Now in it’s second generation, YDC joins cullen+them as the professional dance company in cullen+them’s program for young people. It is a socially-conscious performance group for young people that is entirely devoted to the artistic growth and exploration of its members.

YDC explores the history and future of dance as an art form while discovering what motivates us to create movement. The mission is to foster the growth of balanced individuals who think critically about their lives, their art, and the world around them.

Movement breaks through all kinds of boundaries in a way that other art forms do not. By nature it is collaborative – the young dancers have to cooperate, they get close, they build trust. Beyond this, in YDC they are encouraged toward discussion with one another, and are guided in conversation by an adult who asks them what they think. This pushes them to question and understand how they can express their thoughts through the art of movement. We believe this makes YDC unique.

We have many different ways for young people to engage with cullen+them. For more information and upcoming opportunities, please subscribe to our newsletter or send us an email.

the work.

  • The Family Project
    the family project
  • stop: who are you?

company members

Fiona Jarvis

Fiona Jarvis is twelve years old and proud to be enrolled in the seventh Grade at Columbia Secondary School (CSS) Middle School which is part of Columbia University and near the campus. She just signed up to work on set-design for the school’s annual musical and is excited about this. She loves to read, draw, travel, swim, ski and dance.

She thinks the YDC rehearsals are fun because they get to be creative and can grow up as a group.

Kaya Jarvis

Kaya Jarvis is 10 years old, and is currently in fifth grade at Central Park East 2 (CPE2) Elementary School in East Harlem. She loves riding horses, dancing, singing, drawing, swimming, skiing and traveling. Besides her rehearsals with ydc she attends acting classes at HSA (Harlem School of the Arts) and is getting voice coaching.

She loves growing up in New York and never says no to any opening, art or music event. Kaya feels comfortable and happy rehearsing and spending time with her fellow YDC dancers, and loves that they get to make up their own dances.

Beatrice White

Beatrice White is a sixth grader at Blue School. She loves to write – essays, stories, plays, poetry – read, play piano and the clarinet! She has been a serious student of ballet for six years, first at the School of American Ballet, and now in her fourth year at ABT.

She spends as much time as possible in nature and loves nothing more than climbing a tree and listening to birdsong. She is so proud and honored to be a part of young dance collective – it feels like a dream come true!!

Josiah Morrison Pannell

Josiah Morrison Pannell is thirteen years old and is in the eighth grade in the Bronx. He trained in Kenshikai Karate for six years, attaining the level of advanced brown belt, and has studied hip hop dance with Eboni Osavio. He loves running and playing sports, especially soccer. He has studied traditional Ghanaian drumming with Robert Levin and is currently a lead percussionist with his school band, as well as an expert pen tapper.

Recently, he has begun experimenting with using different martial arts weapons such as bo staffs, katanas and tonfas to create his own fight choreography. He has been learning digital animation, and a short film he worked on was premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of their MetKids program.

Over the past few years, Josiah has worked with the organization, A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Foundation. He also worked with the New York Life Foundation to help the national launch of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students. He is enjoying collaborating with the YDC ensemble to create their own choreography, and is especially gratified by the depth and personal relevance of their current work, The Family Project.

Nyah Raposo

Nyah Raposo is 11 & in the 6th grade. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she has had a creative movement practice since she was able to stand and balance. Nyah plays the violin and is in the orchestra at Third Street Music School Settlement in the East Village. She has been part of the community at third street since the age of 5. She is the owner of three gold fish and two road bikes.

Nyah loves to spend time at Sean Casey, a no kill animal shelter in her neighborhood and really hopes to own her own dog some day. Nyah loves math, science and the arts but more than anything else she looks forward to meeting with young dance collective (YDC).

The experience of being part of the collective throughout her years involved has given her an opportunity to create freely and at the same time support and be supported by other young artists. Through the process of creating movement together Nyah has deepened her connection to what it means to work collaboratively as a young artist and to be professionally guided throughout the process has been an invaluable experience.

Jasper Stein-Mattson

Jasper Stein-Mattson is a 6th grader at Blue School and is happy to be 1 of the 6 members of young dance collective (YDC). Jasper has been in YDC for 4 years and has a lot of fun when he goes to rehearsals and sees everyone. He thinks the most satisfying part is performance night, because they accomplished creating a piece and the hard work paid off.

Jasper also started taking mixed martial arts in 2015 and does it two times a week. Jasper likes different sports like soccer and hockey. Although Jasper doesn’t know how to play hockey he likes to watch it. Jasper loves to move his body and when he and his friends are starting a race he is itching to start and usually when someone says ready, set, go he goes on set. Jasper thinks that YDC is very cool and likes it a lot.

the first generation

The first generation YDC members, Founded in 2001 by then artistic director Kim Cullen, created collaborative work over an intensive period that spanned 10 years. The images in this gallery are from a work called “Sunday” which was the final piece of the first generation.

“Our discussions – every Sunday for the past decade – transform into our art. As we dance, we continually react to, and interact with the world around us – all while supporting one another, existing in the moment, sharing a common identity and purpose, and diving into the core of the struggles and pressures we face and the joys we share.”

—1st Generation of YDC, 2012

  • sunday

Hannah Cullen

Hannah Cullen is a native New Yorker and lifelong choreographer. She creates work that incorporates movement, writing, and social activism and has a BFA in Dance from NYU/Tisch School of The Arts. Before attending Tisch, Hannah studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in the pre-professional program and was a founding member of the collaborative, choreographic company Young Dance Collective. At NYU/Tisch, Hannah performed works by Pamela Pietro, Deborah Jowitt, Cora Bos Kroese, Bill T. Jones, was in the Cunningham Event set by Rashaun Mitchell and showed a number of her own works. Hannah has also performed in works by Pascal Rioult, Johannes Wieland, Larry Keigwin, and Noémie Lafrance.

Hannah’s first evening length work, Us, Me, They, She, tackled gendered inequality as it pertains to both women and men, exploring the ways in which expectations associated with gender influence and affect our individual identity, and how that in turn affects the way we view women in our society. Currently, Hannah is writing and rehearsing a new piece that explores the ways in which fear and memory root inequality in our minds. Hannah’s work focuses on social justice issues, utilizes movement and spoken word as the main mediums, falls somewhere between the highly physical and the highly pedestrian and is meant to connect communities.

Sophia Orlow

Sophia Orlow enjoys modern dance because she feels it is the most expressive, sophisticated and creative form of movement. By choreographing her own work, she gets the opportunity to give form to and express her ideas. She takes class at The Arts Students League of New York as a big part of her life, besides dancing, is art – especially drawing. She has also been working with dance teacher Ellen Robbins at Dance Theater Workshop for the past five years. Sophia is a founding member of the young dance collective. She (still) really wants a dog. (ca.2012)

Lev Ratnofsky

Lev Ratnofsky is 17 years old and has been with young dance collective since 2004. He dances at the Peridance Capezio Center and has been a member of the Peridance Youth Ensemble since 2008. He has worked with choreographers such as Diego Funes, Sean Curran, Amy Marshall, Max Stone, Hernando Cortes, and Greg Dolbasian. Lev loves the performance opportunities he has been given as a YDC member including Agora with Noemie LaFrance, and Bolero with Keigwin + Company. He is looking to study government in university while continuing to dance and choreograph. (ca.2012)

Isa Reisner

At 17, Isa Reisner has spent the majority of her life exploring self expression through various media, the most consistent of which has been choreography and dance. As a founding member of young dance collective, she’s choreographed and performed in numerous pieces over the years, as well as collaborating with various artists including Noemie Lafrance and Larry Keigwin. Constantly intrigued by the vast possibility for movement and interaction, Isa has found a perfect canvas for creation in YDC.

Isa further studies choreography through a selective program at The Dalton School. Besides YDC and this program, Isa has choreographed high school musicals and teaches dance classes at her school on a regular basis. In addition to dancing, Isa spends much of her free time drawing and watercoloring as well as reading and writing poetry. (ca. 2012)

Kassandra Thatcher

At 17, Kassandra is already a veteran of the dance scene, having spent the last nine years as a part of the young dance collective, where she has performed in solo pieces, in duets, and as part of original pieces with the entire company — often choreographed by the group itself, or by herself or with one of her fellow dancers. In addition, she has been invited to perform in original works by celebrated modern choreographers like Larry Keigwin and Noemie LaFrance.

She is passionate about all forms of dance, and loves the opportunity creative movement gives her “to express who I am… I feel free and happy when I’m dancing.” Her study of jazz and hip hop dance with Julie Garfolo at Broadway Dance Center has helped her refine both her style and technique, and she continues to grow and take risks in her work.

But dance isn’t where Kassandra’s life as an artist ends: currently, she is studying voice and song writing with Cari Cole at Cari Cole Voice Studios, and guitar with Jeff McErlain. She also takes advanced ceramic and studio art courses at her high school.

Finally, Kassandra is pursuing her passion for writing, most recently through participation in the pre-college creative writing program at Columbia University. She sees creative writing as an opportunity to weave together all the threads of her personal expression, from studio art, to music and songwriting, to dance and performance art. (ca. 2012)

Kalei Tooman

Kalei Tooman came to dance through Elizabeth Streb at the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics where he has been a “pop action hero” as a member of the KidSTREB Company for six seasons. He is a member of the dance program at the Beacon School where he is a student. Kalei likes the energy and strength of modern dance and believes that dance helps him express his unique life experience. When he is not dancing, Kalei enjoys creating stop motion videos, playing guitar, playing sports and traveling, especially to Hawaii, where he goes deep-sea fishing with his grandfather. Kalei is fifteen years old and is the newest member of the company. (ca. 2012)

Cosmo Scharf

Cosmo Scharf is the co-founder of VRLA, the world’s largest VR & AR expo. He’s also the co-founder of Mindshow, an app that lets you create animated movies in VR you can share with friends. Cosmo aims to make the world more positive and creative through immersive technology.