Shot by Quinn Wharton at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park

For Ailey Dancer Yannick Lebrun, It's All About the Music

Yannick Lebrun is obsessed with music. "I listen to all kinds—world music, gospel, R&B, reggae, Caribbean, African. There's so much on my playlist," says the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company member.

Lebrun relies on different playlists before each performance to boost his energy or help him get into the mood of the piece. "Also, to be able to choreograph and be inspired, I have to have some beautiful music first," he adds. He's set pieces on his co-workers and Ailey II, and for his first performance since the pandemic shutdown, he created a solo to perform at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, in September. "The music inspires my movement."


Lebrun in all white on a farm setting

Quinn Wharton

Lebrun concaves his chest in front of a cloud-filled blue sky

Quinn Wharton

How he started dancing: "As a kid, when I saw my cousin doing a dance competition, I was like, 'Okay, that's cool. I'll start also.' I did competitions in French Guiana, and also in France, and that got me a scholarship for the summer intensive at The Ailey School. That was when I was like, 'Wow, I can feel all the energy, I can see other young boys, other young, beautiful Black bodies—I'm not the only one anymore.' "

Favorite role: "The solo 'I Wanna Be Ready,' from Mr. Ailey's Revelations."

Dream partners: "I would love to just be onstage with Carmen de Lavallade and Desmond Richardson."

Pre-performance routine: "I always give myself a moment to zone out and listen to music in the dressing room. I also like to find a peaceful corner backstage where I can wait and do my own thing. Then, when I get onstage, I do a quick prayer."

Offstage hobbies: "Anything that has to do with art—photography, video projects, museums, a live performance."

What's on his playlist: "Sade and Lauryn Hill will always be on my playlist, whether we're in 2020, 2030 or back in 1998."

Coffee order: "A latte with regular milk, or coconut milk if I'm at one of those special coffee shops in New York City."

Post-performance routine: "A bath with Epsom salt and arnica oil or juniper oil from this brand called Kneipp."

The two things he can't live without: "My phone and earbuds—I just need my music."

Where home is: "I was born in French Guiana and I live in New York City, but I feel good in so many countries—the Caribbean, France, Denmark, South Africa. I've been able to find my peace and my joy because of the beautiful places I've been with Alvin Ailey. Sharing our art and communicating and seeing the culture is so fulfilling."


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Photo by Ernest Gregory, Courtesy Fleming

How This Tap-Dancer-Turned-Composer Stays True to His Jazz Roots

From Riverdance to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. has proved to be a triple threat on the stage and screen. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his own line of wireless microphones, DeW It Right Tap Mics. Last year, he added "composer" to his resumé with the release of Sax and Taps INTERSPLOSION!, the first tap dance and jazz album recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. One of the songs, co-written with jazz saxophonist Erica von Kleist, was a finalist for last year's Unsigned Only music competition.

"When you're invited to dance with a jazz band, it's always assumed that, as a tap dancer, you're going to be a feature. If you go all the way back to New Orleans' Congo Square, and even before then, dance was a part of the music. I wanted to stick to those roots and create an album where everything was intertwined."

He recently spoke with Dance Magazine about his collaboration with von Kleist and the creation of their album.

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January 2021