Every year since 2008, Dance Canvas’ Performance Series presents emerging professional choreographers through our Choreographer Career Development Initiative (CCDI). We love to see the growth and success of our past choreographers! So we have created a Choreographer Update series to catch up with the latest of our great artists and friends.
Today, we will hear from our 2015 Performance Series choreographer, Jaylen Clay. He was part of the first group of students to participate in our DC Next youth summer dance intensive in 2009, and is one of the youngest choreographers in our CCDI program. We are proud of his blossoming career! Let’s see what Jaylen is all about!
Jaylen De’Angelo Clay is a 20 year-old growing choreographer, dancer, and artist. He is a native of Mableton, Georgia and has been dancing since the age of three. Jaylen has been technically training in several genres of dance including: hip hop, salsa, modern (The Horton and Limon Technique), jazz, ballet, Latin (ballroom/swing), tap and contemporary. He attends The University of the Arts as a sophomore where he majors in dance. Studying at such a prestigious school, Jaylen gives credit to all of his instructors and mentors from back home and The University of the Arts dance faculty. Jaylen strives for the best in life; he desires to become a professional choreographer/dancer.
Dance Canvas: How has dance impacted your life?
Jaylen: “My mother would say, “My boy has been dancing since he was in the womb!” The art form of dance makes a huge impact on my life because without dance I do not feel complete. Dance has shaped me into the artist I am today because of the dream that I once had and then with that dream I put in the effort, time, and dedication to make those dreams develop into a reality for me.”
Dance Canvas: Tell us about your journey thus far in the dance world.
Jaylen: “Dance Canvas has been one of the main influences in my dance career. It has pushed me passed my limits of becoming an artist and has stretched the possibilities of what I really have to offer as an artist. One of my favorite moments will always be creating my very first production with the first DC NEXT generation! It has been one of my favorite intensives because as young artists we all were able to see one another grow in such an intimate environment in the studio. The other students and I worked as a community of artists to get our projects done in and outside of the studio. Our bond has never been so strong.
As a young dancer and choreographer my journey has been epic from the beginning and I am still trying to figure how everything is going to play out. While going to school at The University of the Arts and being apart of several companies in the heart of Philadelphia, I have been on the “hustle” as a dancer, while maintaining focus on my education.”
Dance Canvas: What is your strategy for choreographing?
Jaylen: “As a choreographer, I am very energetic! In the studio, I like when my dancers help me create and develop my work, so it is not just me telling my dancers what to do. I love a sense of collaboration and teamwork. The way I go about my choreographic process depends on what exactly I have been given to do. I do not have a set way that I go about rehearsals, but I am very efficient about getting work done.
Crossing Over is a work I created made to over step my dancers’ boundaries. My process included long, productive, experimenting rehearsals. I came in with choreography ready for my dancers, but I was not really concerned about them getting the movement. I was using my dancers as a sketch pad to help me break down my choreography and create on their bodies. My work created new boundaries for my dancers. I wanted them to feel challenged and motivated from within to want to push and make the effort to execute my choreography. My process was definitely not easy throughout the semester, but my cast and I grew together because their were so many different personalities and talents in one room! I am thankful to have worked with such an amazing group of ladies and I hope to be able to work with them in the future.”
Watch Jaylen’s Crossing Over
Dance Canvas: What are your goals/aspirations for your dance career?
Jaylen: “My goals are to dance and choreograph for major networks and companies for commercial and concert dance. I want to make the best out of what is to come and to have fun with the experiences that come along with it!”
Dance Canvas: Any advice for young dancers and choreographers?
Jaylen: “My advice for other dancers and choreographers is to take everything in “like a sponge”! Listen and watch everything — it all will help you grow as an artist.”
Thank you Jaylen for updating us on your career! We can’t wait to see more from you! Follow Jaylen Clay on Instagram @yalcj for more videos of his work!
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