YDC LEADERSHIP

ydc leadership

founding Director, alice teirstein

Alice Teirstein, MA, has been choreographing, performing, and teaching dance in New York since the early 1970’s. She received the 2012 “Bessie,” NY Dance and Performance Award, for distinguished service to the field of dance. She has an extensive background in nurturing creative work from teenagers. She designed, initiated and developed the dance curriculum for grades 7-12 at the Fieldston School, where she served on the faculty for over 3 decades, leading the dance program and directing its Touring Fieldston Dance Company. She initiated the dance program’s Dance Out Project, bringing her students into the city’s homeless shelters where they served as group leaders in dance workshops with homeless youngsters, for which she received an award from the city’s Human Resources Administration. She also brought the Dance Out Project to public schools in the South Bronx. She designed and directed the Fieldston Summer Performing Arts Institute, an intensive dance, theater and music program for teens, offered for ten summers. For three years she was Co-Director of the 92nd St. Y’s Young Masters Repertory Ensemble. For many years she was on the dance faculty of the Mid-Westchester Y, where she directed a teen dance ensemble. She has led workshops for dance teachers for the NYC Department of Education, the Dance Educators Lab, and many other organizations.

As a choreographer/dancer, she has created and performed in numerous works, produced at major concert dance venues in and out of New York City, including Jacobs Pillow, New York’s Dance Theater Workshop, Symphony Space, Joyce Soho, among others. She was a choreographer-in-residence for three years at The Yard, famed dance colony in Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Her choreography was presented annually in New York City parks as part of Midsummer Dances, a free summer concert series, which she co-founded in 1984 with grant awards from NYSCA and DCA. She was a Co-Artistic Director of the former Nimbus Dance Theater Company. She served as movement consultant for the Pearl Theatre Company, a N.Y. classical repertory acting company, choreographing a full range of classical theater over the past two decades. She has performed in the works of choreographers such as Stephan Koplowitz, Janis Brenner, Jody Oberfelder, Claire Porter, and Gus Solomons Jr. among others. In the past decade she and Stuart Hodes, noted Graham dancer and teacher, received highly enthusiastic press acclaim for duets they co-created and performed at major concert venues in and around New York.

In addition to the above-mentioned “Bessie” award, Alice Teirstein has been honored as a choreographer and educator, with awards from The Pearl Theatre, The Dance Library of Israel, The Bronx Arts Ensemble, and Gina Gibney’s “Women at Work”. Alice also received in 2015 the Lifetime Achievement Award from NYSDEA (New York State Dance Education Association) and the American Dance Guild. In 2017, Alice received the Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award. She is currently serving as a Teaching Artist for the Dance Theater of Harlem’s outreach program, Dancing Through Barriers.

Artistic Director, Jessica Gaynor

Jessica Gaynor is a choreographer, performer and dance teacher. In addition to her role as Artistic Director of Young Dancemakers Company, she is the Artistic Director of Jessica Gaynor Dance, founded in 2003. The company, hailed for its “risk-laden” (DIY Dancer) choreography and “sophisticated approach to pure dance,” (The New Yorker), performs Jessica’s works that utilize kinetic physicality, intricate patterning, and formal structures in an exploration of the complexities of human experience. With her company, Jessica has created twenty works, including eight evening length pieces and has performed at venues such as Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, The Skirball Center/NYU, Danspace Project @ St. Mark's Church, Ailey Citigroup Theater, The Kitchen, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Peridance, Dance Theater Workshop, The 92nd Street Y, Dixon Place, BAX (USA), Berlin Dance Institute, LAKE Studios, PAUL Studios, Kühlspot, Errant Sounds, Petersburg Art Space (Berlin) and has been presented by Triskelion Arts (NYC) for nine sold-out seasons.

Jessica’s repertory has been set on students at the Berlin Dance Institute, Brown University, Grand Canyon University, the Fieldston School, the Brearley School and Young Dancemakers Company. She has taught open classes and workshops internationally and directed the K-12 dance program at the Brearley School from 2007-2014.

Jessica holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from California Institute of the Arts, and a BA from Brown University, where upon graduation she received the Weston Award for excellence in dance. Recent grants include an O'Donell-Green Music and Dance Foundation Grant, two New Music/USA Commissions, a Mertz Gilmore Late Stage Production Stipend and multiple Andrew W. Mellon Space Subsidies. Jessica Gaynor Dance was a Gotham Arts Exchange Emerging Artist in 2010 and a member of Pentacle’s (DanceWorks, Inc.) Gallery Roster from 2013-2015.

music Director, william catanzaro

William Catanzaro is an internationally renowned award winning composer, musician and educator. He brings his expertise as a musician and composer for choreographers and dancers to his vital work with our student choreographers. Since arriving from his native Buenos Aires in 1989 Mr. Catanzaro has composed musical scores for renowned choreographers such as Anna Sokolow, Steve Paxton, Viola Farber, Milton Myers and Sara Rudner. His work has been presented nationally and internationally with the New Danish Dance Theater, TanzFabrik Berlin, Amsterdam Theatreschool, Cyprus Festival, Teatro San Martin, Architanz Tokyo, The Alvin Ailey School, Philadanco, Player’s Project, Dallas Black Theater, Jacob’s Pillow and more. He has received recognition and funding from the NEA, The Samuel S. Feld Fund, New York State Council on The Arts, Harkness Foundation, NYU Humanities Council, NYU Service/ Learning Fund.

Mr. Catanzaro has worked as an accompanist and taught music for dancers at The Juilliard School, Marymount Manhattan College, Limon School, Martha Graham School, and New York University. Currently he is on faculty at The Alvin Ailey School, Sarah Lawrence College and Steps on Broadway and is the Music Director of the Young Dancemakers Company.

He has two recordings as band leader and three independent editions of his theater works. His most recent CDs “Percussion Works, compositions for the choreography of Milton Myers, “Evolution Suites” and “Percussion for the technique of Lester Horton Vol. I and Vol II” have been received with great acclaim.

associate program manager, jenée ivi whitehead

Jenée Ivi Whitehead is a performer, producer, and digital marketing specialist bi-continentally based in the US and Germany. A Young Dancemakers Company alum from 2008, Jenée choreographed “Love At First Write”, a metaphorical comedic piece that showcases the love affair when paper meets pen. She later leveraged all that she learned from her season’s training with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company to further study modern dance and to grow her professional network in New York in the years after.


Jenée attended Brooklyn College in 2009 while also interning for YDC as a Program Assistant. During this time, she joined modern dance company Artis Smith and Dancers and began performing works at the Dumbo Dance Festival and similar seasonal venues. In 2010, she choreographed, performed, and competed in east coast hip-hop dance competitions with Queens-based dance group DynamiQ Faction.


Jenée later received a Rosen Fellowship to train professionally in classical ballet (Paris Marais Dance School) and street dance (Juste Debout School) in Paris, France from 2011 - 2012. In 2013, her choreography was noted in Vibe magazine for her work on Suzi Analogue's, Jump Rope music video and tour.


When she’s not teaching dance workshops to students, she’s nurturing her business as a digital marketing consultant to creative small businesses on and offline. Today, Jenée regularly portions her time between New York City and Berlin.