Featured Alumni Profiles

Yauri-Sabrinthia Kelly

MA '05, Dance Education

“My parents were both painters and they introduced me to the arts when I was very young,” says Yauri-Sabrinthia Kelly, a recent graduate of the masters program in dance education. “I studied piano when I was 7, clarinet when I was 8, and cello when I was 9.  Taking up dance was a simple – and wonderful – extension of my music studies.” Kelly has spent the past 12 years working on her career in dance and dance education.She has trained with the Alvin Ailey American Dance School, Steps on Broadway, and the Broadway Dance Center, learning a wide range of dance techniques, from ballet, jazz and tap to West African dance, flamenco, and salsa.  

Throughout her undergraduate and graduate years, she also gave back to her community. “My family and I are very close – I have three younger sisters – and we’ve always been involved in our community, our church, and our schools.” Her extensive dance experiences and service, ranging from her work as a teen mentor and volunteer with performing arts organizations, to her leadership in Christian fellowship and African student organizations has earned her several awards, including the First Annual Judith Jamison Dance Award from Adelphi University. In May 2005, she received the Catherine Oliva Award for leadership and service in education from New York University.

What attracted you to graduate studies at Steinhardt?

Before applying to NYU, I had earned a bachelor of fine arts in dance from Adelphi University with a second major in International Studies – a combination of political science, Latin American studies and Spanish language – and a minor in African American and Ethnic Studies. I was interested in both theory and practice. I came to NYU knowing that there were lots of opportunities in performance and research. Why should an intellectual have to choose between artistry and scholarship?

What kinds of opportunities did you take advantage of at Steinhardt?

First and foremost, I took advantage of Steinhardt’s graduate study abroad offerings. I studied in both Puerto Rico (during Spring Break) and Italy (during the summer) where my focus was dance and/or dance research. I took advantage of all the services that NYU offers students, such as the Career Center, the Office of African American, Latino and Asian American Studies, Bobst Library, the computer labs, and lounges where I met with fellow students to study or talk about our academic and professional goals.  Finally, I took great advantage of the performance opportunities at the Frederick Loewe Theatre for students in the dance education program, where I performed in four main stage performances. 

What did you like most about your academic experiences at NYU and in Steinhardt?

I liked mostly that there were other programs, departments, and schools at NYU that are strong, well established and offer courses available to other students in other departments and disciplines.  Although I was a student in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, I looked for courses in the Tisch School of the Arts, particularly in the Department of Performance Studies, where I took a dance ethnography course.

You recently completed your MA in Dance Education.  What will you be doing next?

I’ll continue to look for ways to combine my love of dance with my interests in research.  This past summer I was an academic consultant and dance teacher for both Drew and Princeton Universities in their “Summer Institute for the Gifted” program. Students attended from all over the world and ranged from grades 4-11. This fall, I’ll begin working on my PhD in dance at Temple University with an emphasis in cultural studies and research and I’ve been invited to join the faculty there as an adjunct professor. I’ll be teaching Dance, Movement, and Pluralism, which surveys dance in relation to cultures and race relations in society. I’m working on publishing some of my work as well as preparing for three presentations I’ll be giving at the National Dance Education Organization conference later this year. My goal in everything I hope to do is to inspire, enhance and develop youth and young adults through dance, arts advocacy, and research.