Ifetayo Youth Ensemble (IYE) is a professional preparation, touring ensemble of 25-30 young people. IYE is dedicated to creating original, socially relevant, interdisciplinary performance works. Through a supportive, healing structure for arts training and self-creation, IYE provides members and apprentices with the opportunity to realize themselves through performance, bring dialogue to their communities, and develop their potential as community transformers.
Participating youth are stimulated as artists, scholars, and activists by researching and creating new works that address pressing social issues. Research along with the interpretation of written texts, peer coaching sessions, interviews with community leaders, and visits to relevant exhibits and presentations are integral elements of the group’s creative process.
The Youth Ensemble meets weekly for training, professional coaching, and engages in all-day rehearsal on Saturdays for a total of 8-10 hours per week. Additional activities include research and field trips that take place after-school on weekdays, weekends and holidays.
The group renders its interpretations of the works of major choreographers and has worked with Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller, Abdel Salaam, Sarita Allen, Marilyn Worrell, Walter Jones, Faybiene Miranda, Sarita Allen, Ron Bobb-Semple and Kevin Iega Jeff. Performances of such works serve to expand and diversify IYE’s repertoire and also provide opportunities to build strong relationships between IYE members and professional artists. The group performs at local community schools, theaters, churches, special events, at Ifetayo concerts, and other Brooklyn venues. Members audition to be accepted into the ensemble and receive full artistic scholarships for training and rehearsals.
Goals for the program are:
- To provide high quality training by offering professional level instruction with nationally recognized artists, choreographers, composers, and playwrights.
- To teach technical skills in the arts that promotes articulate self-expression through artistic expression.
- To prepare youth for ongoing study and careers in the arts.
- To provide an opportunity and vehicle for youth to build self-esteem and cultural awareness.
- To engage youth as artists and scholars, playwrights, and choreographers.
- To engage youth as activists to identify important social issues.
- To utilize the arts as a vehicle for self-liberation and a mechanism for youth specific social issues.
The resulting works are authentic and honest, openly addressing challenges that are meaningful to young women and men as they use their artistic medium to express their opinions about the socio-economic and political inequalities in their communities.
In performances, IYE members are social agents who share their skills, confidence, and growing self-knowledge with audiences of all ages to create awareness, provide opportunities for open dialogue, and present solutions to eradicate injustices and social inequities. IYE represents the ways in which the arts can be used as a tool for social change and positive community development.
The Ifetayo Youth Ensemble was honored at the White House with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on Nov. 22, 2013 and gave a featured performance of African dance and drum at the ceremony.
“1960 What? ” performed by Ifetayo Youth Ensemble Van Lier Fellows choreographed by Kevin Iega Jeff to the music of renowned jazz musician Gregory Porter at the Brooklyn Dance Festival. (2015)