Assistant Professor, Movement
BFA, Boston Conservatory
Certificate of Completion, The American Mime Theatre
CFA Room 469
“Joy is not only in reaching the finish line but in also knowing that no shortcut was taken and every door of possibility was entered upon. When considering my personal journey, being hearing impaired, I go back to my first experience discovering movement and its raw, organic, impactful impression. There I was, as a toddler in a class that was encouraging us to express our emotions not with just our voice, but with our bodies as instruments—to take my shoulders and allow it to be an expressive channel. I was hooked. I felt alive, and I felt for the first time that I can, in fact, hear and that my nerve deafness was not a disability but rather an ability to embrace my other senses. My aim for practitioners of movement is for them to: find appreciation in all that life has to offer and to collect everything they sense around them as fuel for their imagination, and experience movement not only for movement’s sake, but to treat it as an authentic channel through which they can express their inner truth-bringing physical attention to intention.”
In this video, students describe how Assistant Professor Cassell’s demanding movement classes improve their confidence and deepen their understanding of how crucial movement is to acting.
A recipient of the Lotte Kaliski Award for Gifted Artists, Yo-EL Cassell was formerly Resident Choreographer of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. His previous teaching experience also includes the NY Acting School for Film and Television, Harvard University Dance Department, New England Conservatory, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Sunshine Cottage School For Deaf Children, Celebrity Series of Boston, Commonwealth Shakespeare Apprentice Academy, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference, Boston Ballet, Dance Complex, and Skidmore College, where he served as a guest teaching artist/choreographer in residence for three years. His teaching for movement practice, through a thoughtful fusion of various movement and theatre approaches, stresses the importance of incorporating personal identity with an integration of a strong technical foundation. Thus, balancing the importance of owning, in equal measure, the ecstatic and informative self in and outside the walls of movement study.
Cassell has choreographed and directed movement for Comedy of Errors, All’s Well That Ends Well, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, King Lear, Love Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night and Othello for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime for SpeakEasy Stage Company; Lilly’s Revenge for American Repertory Theatre; The Understudy and Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play for Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Sound of Music for Nantucket Dreamland Theatre; Kiss Me, Kate (featuring Kerry O’Malley and Marc Kudisch), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Boys from Syracuse, Symphonic Shakespeare, Footloose and Fancy Free (Movement Director/Curator), and Urban Sprawl for Boston Landmarks Orchestra/CSC; Sunlight Interior, Sweet and Sour, and The Distance Between for Walnut Hill School for the Arts; A Little Night Music, Alcina, and Orpheus in the Underworld for Boston Opera Collaborative; Sunlight Interior for San Antonio Repertory Ballet; Full-Noon Trill and Gravitate for Skidmore College; Die Fledermaus for New England Conservatory, and The Me I Didn’t Know as well as Moonglow Part 2 for Across the Ages Dance. He has also produced, choreographed and directed the acclaimed Off-Broadway original production of Moonlight Interior at New York’s Sande Shurin Theatre, featuring the music of singer songwriter Jann Klose. Additional experience includes choreography and movement direction for the films Cultivating Stillness and What Alice Found (Miramax). Cassell also was artistic director and choreographer of YC Movement Theatre in NYC. Currently he is artistic director and founder of Ensemble 360, a physical-theatre ensemble comprising male actors, dancers, and musicians whose mission is to highlight the importance of storytelling through movement. He has also created devised work for male urban youth for a program he founded, entitled Boys in Motion, for Boston Ballet’s community engagement performance at Boston’s Strand Theatre in Dorchester (Three, Esfera, Chairs in Motion).
As a performer, Cassell has appeared in Shining Time Station with Ringo Starr (PBS, Debut Episode), Anatomy of a Ballet (Independent Film), A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre (Scott Ellis, Director/Rob Marshall, Choreographer), La Fille mal gardée, Orfeo ed Euridice (Virginia Opera/Darko Tresnjak, director), Ahab’s Wife, and The Urban Nutcracker. He was also a member of The American Mime Theatre, The Pearl Lang Dance Company, Spencer/Colton Dance, Heidi Latsky Dance, Chen and Dancers, Dance Compass, and Palissimo Dance Theatre in which he was featured in their acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Blind Spot at PS122 in NYC. His training includes Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Paul Taylor School, American Repertory Ballet, Connecticut Ballet, Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy, Alvin Ailey School, The University of the Arts, and Mercer County High School of Performing Arts, from which he is an alumnus. He was also an apprentice at The American Mime Theatre.
Cassell was Program Manager for Boston Ballet’s nationally acclaimed Citydance, a program providing free access of movement education to over 3,000 public school children in Boston and the North Shore. He also served as curriculum development/teaching specialist for their Taking Steps and community engagement programs. His community engagement experience also led him to partner up with Celebrity Series of Boston as a guest artist, supporting accessibility through movement practice in various communities throughout Boston. Cassell was Assistant Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer for The Shadow Box Theater in NYC, as well as Student Engagement Manager and creative producer for ArtsEmerson at Emerson College’s Office of the Arts. The position focused on creating innovative experiences in providing student accessibility to world-class theatre programming.
Cassell is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Thought Leadership fellowship, Silo Guest Artist Residency fellowship, Summer Stages Dance fellowship, the Jan Veen Scholarship, and recently, a New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Creative City Community Partner grant. A member of the board of StageSource, he is a proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME), and has published an article for HowlRound, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. Cassell has been invited as a keynote speaker for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts’ Innovation and Creativity Conference, and as a guest artist for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference in Las Vegas. Cassell was also a guest panelist for Boston University’s Performing Arts and Disability Leadership, Inclusion and Training Conference sponsored by BU Arts Initiative Office.
For more insight into Yo-EL’s thought process, please read “Why Would We Move? Musings on Movement Practice and Training,” “An Artist’s Take on Mentoring,” or “Dream Big and Make the Move.”
MOVEMENT INFORMING A PLAY—A SPONTANEOUS VIGNETTE
In this video, Yo-EL Cassell spontaneously generates a movement piece with eight students from his freshman movement practicum.
“The thing that matters is not what they show me but what they hide from me and above all what they do not suspect is in them.” —Robert Bresson