This summer, Dorchester teen Kyre Ambrose will serve as an emissary of the arts along with 13 other teens from the greater Boston area as The Reach: Summer Outreach Dance/Teen Apprenticeship Dance Program celebrates its 30th anniversary. Since 1990, Reach has been providing training and mentorship to teen apprentices and bringing dance performances and workshops to Greater Boston neighborhood centers.
The Reach program was founded by the artistic co-directors of Dance Collective, a former contemporary dance troupe based in Boston. 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 is the director of dance.
Due to COVID-19, Reach’s intergenerational dance company’s usual free performance at the Cambridge Municipal Lot #5 will not occur this summer. Instead, the Reach company is preparing a performance video that will be shared with camps and community centers of Greater Boston in the first two weeks of August. It will also be available to the public on youtube.com/user/BostonUnivDance/featured. The performance will showcase the diversity of the individual teen apprentices’ training as well as their personal and cultural backgrounds.
Fourteen suburban and urban teens have been selected from Greater Boston neighborhoods including Roslindale, Mattapan, and Dorchester. 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.
Reach’s 13-18 year-old teen apprentices are mentored by professional choreographers and college-age interns. This year’s professionals include Wendy O’Byrne, Brian Washburn, Christopher Phillips, and Mcebisi Xotyeni, along with two college interns, Hannah Cyr and Brandon McCrory-Joseph. During three weeks of intense daily class and rehearsal with Reach staff, the teens have been preparing for the company’s video performance. The goal is to reach 1,200 kids and adults at nearly two dozen local camps and community centers in the Greater Boston area via video rather than in-person.
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 from Mattapan wrote, “This program helped me to realize that not only do I dance for myself, but I dance to help others – to make others happy and inspire them.”
Said Taylor-Pinney: “We all benefit from Reach’s success -- the teens, the community and those who strive to bring the power and beauty of dance to a wider audience.”
Reach is primarily funded by charitable grants and through private donations. For more information, visit bu.edu/fitrec/dance/reach, or call 617-353-1597.