EARTH Choreographer Spotlight: Eryn Renee Young / by Eryc Taylor

EARTH: Part 4 of 5 Studio showings
Man Forgets Earth

Check out the interview below!

Photo Credit: Shannel Resto

Photo Credit: Shannel Resto


How long have you been dancing? What college did you attend?

I began dancing at the age of 2, and I received a degree in Contemporary Ballet Choreography and Fine Art from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU.

When did you start creating work and what was the name of your first work? (feel free to elaborate)

I began creating work as a young teenager when I was recovering from a series of injuries, and I found that I could still be exploring in the studio if I helped my teachers prepare their combinations for class. I took a number of choreography classes at various summer programs and in college, and founded my professional company, XAOC Contemporary Ballet, at the age of 19.

Which choreographers inspire you the most and/or what is your favorite piece of choreography? 

The choreographers who inspire me most now are those who make ballet that “doesn’t always look like ballet.” It makes definite use of the traditional vocabulary but expands upon and opens it, speaking directly to the audiences in a way that honors the classical tradition while feeling fresh, accessible, and exciting to dancers and viewers. Some of the first pieces that inspired me early in my choreographic journey that I always return to are Balanchine’s Agon and Graham’s Clytemnestra, and now I continue to seek inspiration across the decades and continents among generations of art makers in both ballet and modern dance. 

What is your goal as a choreographer? Do you want to start your own company? Or, work project based?

My goal as a choreographer is to create work that brings beauty and joy to a world often caught in darkness and despair. I want those who experience my work to feel wonder, and that through art, light, and love, we can overcome darkness. My company’s mission states that there is room for ballet to evolve into the 21st century, led by women with a vision of inclusivity, generosity, inventiveness, spirit, humanity, and love. Our artists seek to use this incredible art form to bring joy and delight to our audiences far and wide. In a tumultuous world that has great capacity for both beauty and ugliness, we as artists have a responsibility toward the creation of beauty. In 2020, we celebrate 10 years of creative contribution to the professional dance world.

What have you learned about climate change from this experience? Have you done any research while creating your work that has changed your view on Earth's current state? 

I did extensive research in preparation for this piece, and one of the things that touched me the deepest was the human scale of the devastation brought on by climate change that we are already experiencing on Earth right now. I think for many, especially in the developed world, climate change seems like a distant future, something to maybe start thinking about that will maybe begin to cause problems several generations down the line – many think not my life, not my problem. But it is happening, right now. It is happening not just in the third world, where undoubtedly it strikes the hardest, but in our own backyards. The natural disasters of the last twenty years have been some of the worst in historical memory – just this week, we had a hurricane that is stronger than any Atlantic hurricane on record, and the devastation is not yet known. The California wildfires destroyed the homes and lives of some of the wealthiest areas in the world. The number of people that died in the 2004 tsunami was equivalent to 2/3 of the population of the United States. The immediacy of the issue is astounding. It is happening here and it is happening now.

What do you hope the audience takes away from Man Forgets Earth?

I hope it touches their hearts. I hope they see that climate change is larger than politics, larger than profit, but that at its heart, the relationship between the earth and humanity is a love story, one that, like all relationships, has good times and bad, sickness and health, and requires true committed work to maintain a balance. For me, I’m an eternal optimist, and I do not want this story to end in tragedy. I hope that others feel the same, and are moved to act.

What do you think of the mission of our EARTH project and how has the process been so for you working as a guest artist? 

I hope it touches their hearts. I hope they see that climate change is larger than politics, larger than profit, but that at its heart, the relationship between the earth and humanity is a love story, one that, like all relationships, has good times and bad, sickness and health, and requires true committed work to maintain a balance. For me, I’m an eternal optimist, and I do not want this story to end in tragedy. I hope that others feel the same, and are moved to act.

**Don’t forget to get your FREE tickets to the showing this Sunday (9/8/19) 1PM at the Martha Graham Studio Theater 55 Bethune Street, NYC 11th Floor CLICK HERE

BIO:

Eryn Renee Young is the founding artistic director and resident choreographer of XAOC Contemporary Ballet, a New York City-based neoclassical ballet company founded in 2010.She is an inaugural fellow of the Jacob’s Pillow Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellows Program and a 2018 resident choreographer of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Choreographic Institute.Her choreographic work has been showcased at the Battery Dance Festival, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, the Young Choreographer’s Festival at Symphony Space, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival at the Paramount Theater, the White Wave Dumbo Dance Festival at the Jay Street Theater and the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, Dance at Socrates, Mark Morris Dance Center, the Martha Graham Studio Theater, the CounterPointe Series with Norte Maar and the Brooklyn Ballet at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center, the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition, the Brooklyn Dance Festival, Brooklyn Ballet’s First Look, the Pushing Progress Series, Hatch, the Choreographer’s Canvas at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, NYC10: an initiative for NYC Dance Week at Dixon Place, Dance New Amsterdam, Triskelion Arts Center, Steps on Broadway, the Moving Beauty Series, the Algonquin Arts Center, Peridance Capezio Center, the Boston Conservatory, the Bart Leukede Theater at Rider University, the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, the Agnes DeMille Theater at U. North Carolina School of the Arts, and New York University, including her first solo choreography show entitled “A New Era: Elements of Dance” in 2009 and a second evening in the Gallatin Arts Festival in 2012. Read More

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Photos: Shannel Resto