Urban and Suburban Teen Dance Program Celebrates 33rd Anniversary

Bedford teen Symona Baiatian will perform on August 2 as part of a Reach summer dance program.

This summer, Bedford teen Symona Baiatian will serve as emissary of the arts along with seven other suburban and urban teens from the greater Boston area as the Reach: Summer Outreach Dance/Teen Apprenticeship Dance Program returns to meeting in-person and celebrates its 33rd anniversary! Reach’s free performance will be held on the BU campus in the 766 Commonwealth Ave. parking lot on Wednesday, August 2, 7-8pm (rain location: BU Dance Theater at 915 Commonwealth Ave.). This summer, Reach: Summer Outreach Dance/Teen Apprenticeship Dance Program celebrates its 33rd anniversary! Since 1990, Reach has been providing training and mentorship to teen apprentices and bringing dance performances and workshops to Greater Boston neighborhood centers and 1,000 children.

The Reach program was founded by the artistic co-directors of Dance Collective, a contemporary dance troupe that was based in Boston from 1973 to 2005. It was Martha Armstrong Gray and Dawn Kramer’s vision to select teen apprentices who would experience the artistry and discipline associated with dance, acquire skills for future jobs, and provide thousands of urban youth with a quality art experience. In 2006, Micki Taylor-Pinney, then artistic director of Dance Collective, moved the program to Boston University, where she directs the dance program. Two pieces of Dance Collective repertory, one by Gray and one by Judith Chaffee, long-time artistic director, have been modified and included in the program along with new works created by the company.

There are eight teen apprentices, from Greater Boston communities, that will join professional dancers and college interns to serve as emissaries of the arts. This year’s professionals include Assistant Director, Wendy O’Byrne, Hannah Cyr, Izaiah Lawton, and Ramiro Vaughan. Staff interns include BU students, Alan Kuang and Erin Mahoney, and Spelman College student, Elizabeth Roman. College interns include AJ Jean Phillipe, Yiny Vega, and Matthew Xu. Our teen apprentices were selected from Greater Boston neighborhoods including Arlington, Bedford, Cambridge, Needham, and Salem/Athens, Ohio, and Scituate. They experience the thrills and rigors of dance training and performing in an intergenerational company of dancers while bringing quality arts experiences to camps and community centers.

Max, a teen apprentice from Needham, wrote, “The campers got to see that anyone, no matter what their background was, could be united through movement, and they got to experience the feeling of being part of the group.” Izaiah, a former apprentice and now one of the professionals from Mattapan wrote, “This program helped me to realize thatnot only do I dance for myself, but I dance to help others – to make others happy and inspire them.”

“We all benefit from Reachs success — the teens, the community and those who strive to bring the power and beauty of dance to a wider audience,” Taylor-Pinney said. Reach is primarily funded by charitable grants and through private donations. For more information, visit http://www.bu.edu/fitrec/dance/reach/ or call 617-353-1597.

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