Hannah Cullen began the formation of cullen+them with the premiere of her first evening length work Us, Me, They, She in May 2015. Based upon the same creative principles found at the heart of the original young dance collective (YDC), Hannah traces her artistic and philosophical roots to the time she spent as a founding member of YDC.
The first generation YDC members, Founded in 2001 by then artistic director Kim Cullen, the first generation of YDC created collaborative work over an intensive period that spanned 10 years.
In late 2012, the second generation of young dance collective came together ages 6–8 years old. These young artists have spent the last seven years learning and growing together. The work they create together is both an expression and an essential part of their journey to adulthood.
Hannah has been working with this group since its inception, and was delighted to see YDC formally join cullen+them in 2016, and has since served as artistic director of the collective. As one of two professional performing companies under the auspices of cullen+them, young dance collective retains its identity as a professional performing group of young artists, and the kids themselves remain the choreographers for all the work they do. Last year, our work continued to grow as we formed the third generation of this legacy, young them, the newest and youngest creative collaborative group of cullen+them.
As an intergenerational performing arts organization using movement and spoken word to encourage critical thinking and activism, the goal of cullen+them is to create impactful change. We do this by making performance work, fostering community, and cultural organizing.
“Our works are entirely collaborative. Together, we create something very powerful. Our movement expresses our thoughts about communication (or the loss and absence of it); about love, and how love manifests itself in friends, relationships, and the world around us; about loss – individually, and as a society; peer pressure; death; loneliness; and self definition.
“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. Our shared experience and expression has been a catalyst for our growth as individuals. We hope our programs provoke thought in our audiences, especially teenagers, as we explore our daily reality in a post 9/11 world.
“We have grown from performing in one-room spaces to performing at venues such as the Citigroup Theater Joan Weill Center for Dance, PS122, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and 3 Legged Dog. As an independent, non-profit company, we work diligently to produce our work and no creative endeavor has ever been compromised.”
—What the 1st Generation of YDC had to say about themselves in their final year, 2012