A recipient of the Lotte Kaliski Award for Gifted Artists and a graduate of The Boston Conservatory at Berklee (Magna Cum Laude), Yo-EL Cassell is the Head of Movement/Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of Dance Minors for the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre at Boston University and a member of the faculty for The Harvard University Dance Program. He was formerly Resident Choreographer of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. His previous teaching experience includes the NY Acting School for Film and Television, Boston University, New England Conservatory, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children, Commonwealth Shakespeare Apprentice Academy, Boston Ballet, Dance Complex, and Skidmore College where he served as a guest teaching artist/choreographer in residence for three years.
Cassell has choreographed and directed movement for Comedy of Errors, All’s Well That Ends Well, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, King Lear, Love Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night and Othello for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC); Lilly’s Revenge for The American Repertory Theatre; The Understudy and Mr. Burn’s, A Post- Electric Play for the Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Sound of Music for the Nantucket Dreamland Theatre; Kiss Me Kate (Featuring Kerry O’Malley and Marc Kudisch), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Boys from Syracuse, Symphonic Shakespeare, Footloose and Fancy Free (Movement Director/ Curator), and Urban Sprawl for Boston Landmark Orchestra/ CSC; Sunlight Interior, Sweet and Sour, and The Distance Between for The Walnut Hill School of The Arts; Little Night Music, Alicina, and Orpheus in the Underworld for The Boston Opera Collaborative; Sunlight Interior for The San Antonio Repertory Ballet; Full-Noon Trill and Gravitate for Skidmore College; Die Fledermaus for New England Conservatory, and The Me I Didn’t Know as well as Moonglow for Across the Ages Dance. He has also produced, choreographed and directed the acclaimed Off-Broadway original production of Moonlight Interior at the Sande Shurin Theatre in NYC featuring the music of singer songwriter Jann Klose. Additional experiences include choreography and movement direction for the films Cultivating Stillness and What Alice Found (Miramax). He was also the artistic director and choreographer of YC Movement Theatre in NYC. Currently, he is the artistic director and founder of Ensemble 360, a movement theatre ensemble comprised of male actors, dancers, and musicians whose mission is to highlight the importance of storytelling through movement. Their work has been presented by Celebrity Series and The Boston LandMark Orchestra. He has also created devised work for male urban youth for a program he founded, entitled Boys in Motion, for Boston Ballet’s community engagement performance at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, Massachusetts (Three, Esfera, Chairs in Motion). For Boston University, Cassell has helped created a new series, entitled Inmotion Theatre, that highlights storytelling primarily through the lens of movement/physical acting. He is also co-producer of Boston University’s Aurora Borealis.
As a performer, Cassell has appeared in Shining Time Station with Ringo Starr (PBS, Debut Episode), Anatomy of a Ballet (Independent Film), A Christmas Carol at the McCarter Theatre (Scott Ellis, Director/Rob Marshall, Choreographer), La Fille Mal Gardee, Orfeo ed Euridice (Virginia Opera/Darko Tresnjak, Director) Ahab’s Wife, and The Urban Nutcracker. He was also a member of The American Mime Theatre, The Pearl Lang Dance Company, Spencer/Colton Dance, Heidi Latsky Dance, Chen and Dancers, DanceCompass, and Palissimo Dance Theatre in which he was featured in their acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Blind Spot at PS122 in NYC. His training includes the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Paul Taylor School, American Repertory Ballet, Connecticut Ballet, Summerstages Dance at Concord Academy, Alvin Ailey School, The University of the Arts, and Mercer County High School of Performing Arts from which he is an alumnus. He was also an apprentice at the American Mime Theatre.
Cassell was Program Manager for Boston Ballet’s nationally acclaimed Citydance program which provides free access of movement education to over 3,000 public school children in Boston and the North Shore. He also served as curriculum development/teaching specialist for their Taking Steps and community engagement programs. Cassell was Assistant Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for The Shadowbox Theater in NYC, as well as Student Engagement Manager and creative producer for ArtsEmerson at Emerson College (Office of the Arts). This management position focused on creating innovative experiences in providing student accessibility to world class theatre programming.
Cassell is the recipient of The Kennedy Center Thought Leadership Fellowship, Silo Guest Artist Residency Fellowship, The Creative City Grant, SummerStages Dance Fellowship, The Jan Veen Scholarship and has been invited as a presenter for the Association for Theatre Conference in Las Vegas as well as a guest speaker for The New Hampshire Fall Arts in Education Conference. He is also a proud member of the Association of Stage Directors and Choreographer (SDC), the Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) and a member of the Celebrity Series Community Engagement Committee. Cassell’s greatest role is being a father to his son, Keaton.
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Movement director and professor Yo-El Cassell reflects on how movement should help people access playfulness and joy, regardless of ability.