After serving New York City’s Ethical Culture Fieldston School for 34 years, Alice Teirstein stepped down in May from her position as dance program director and faculty member. Teirstein created the private school’s dance program in 1976. She also developed a touring Fieldston Dance Company and the Dance Out Project, an outreach program bringing performances to homeless shelters and public schools.
Though leaving Fieldston, Teirstein continues her work with NYC students as the founder and director of the 15-year-old Young Dancemakers Company (YDC). This five-week scholarship-based summer program offers 17 inner-city teens opportunities to choreograph original pieces and perform in a larger repertory work. Several student pieces are chosen to be performed during an eight-venue tour through four NYC boroughs. “It’s hard to choose,” Teirstein says. “My students write choreography proposals, and we pick the pieces that seem most translatable.” All students this summer performed in Bill T. Jones’ Continuous Replay, restaged by Catherine Cabeen.
This August, Teirstein launched a new project within YDC. For the company’s final performance on August 5, one student’s work was mounted on YDC students and professionals from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Company dancers were available to mentor the teen choreographer, Teirstein says, “but we tried to be invisible monitors, so the student could really take ownership of her work.”
So what’s next for Teirstein? “I’m going to do this again for the 16th season of YDC,” she says. “My future’s a little amorphous right now, but I do know one thing: I will continue to dance and be an active part in the dance community.”
Photo courtesy of Young Dancemakers Company