Youngmichael, Age 17
From: Brooklyn, NY
Focus: Dance, Rap, Poetry
Youngmichael began dancing at 7 years old. At 11 years old, he gave first live performance during Remembrance Day, a community-wide event created to honor community elders and role models. He continued performing in the community-wide event for 4 straight years after his debut, often performing crowd-pleasing choreography to songs like Billy Jean and Beat It. Though his first actual stage performance wasn’t until his junior high school talent show, by dancing in the neighborhood and in local parks, Youngmichael had already become well-known for his spot-on Michael Jackson impersonations. By doing so, the name “Young Michael” was born. His alias was later changed to “Youngmichael” to better fit him as an artist. Ask him, and he is, “Capital Y, everything else lower case, no space.”
The end of junior high school marked the start of Youngmichael’s newfound love for hip-hop culture. He soon found himself exploring the ins and outs of hip-hop emceeing, connecting with local artists and producers, and working with independent records labels. He developed an exceptional working relationship with the founder of label Red Ribbon Entertainment. His dedication for music and Red Ribbon landed him the role of Vice President of the label at age 15. The position was intended to be temporary, but Youngmichael held the Vice Presidency for nearly a year. Soon after his stint at Red Label, Youngmichael began choreographing production numbers, including a high school production of FAME. His then drama teacher saw a career for him on stage and cast him as Leroy in the production. He began taking acting classes that led to future roles as “Lysander” in Mid Summer Night’s Dream and “Bernardo” in West Side Story.
As his second year in high school approached, Youngmichael took up play writing classes. He became increasingly interested in honing his skills as a writer. He began writing short stories and scences, one of which he entered into a contest at school. Though his scene submission was unsuccessful, he found himself the author of the play, “Behind My Eyes” that was later produced Off Broadway with the Manhattan Theatre Club. Always one for wanting to explore his full potential, Youngmichael then entered the world of fashion design. He began designing clothes for himself, one day hoping to break into the professional designing. He was fortunate enough to meet designers like the “Opka” sisters of the “William Opka” clothing line.Though Youngmichael’s creative nature allowed him to explore a number of different industries, he never let go of his first passion to dance. Through his participation at Art Start, he currently interns with the non-profit dance company, Full Force, and continues to work with Art Start for further improvement and artist development through his commitment as a 2014 Emerging Artist in Residence.