Reach Program Archive

Beginning in 1990, Dance Collective’s Summer Outreach Program, renamed the BU Reach Program in 2006, trained teen apprentices in dance and choreography, helping them to develop essential skills in a structured, educational environment. The program provided a quality art experience to thousands of urban youth when the teens and professionals took their work on tour to Greater Boston camps and community centers. Reach combined innovative choreography and professional dance instruction to create a unique service opportunity.

Members of the Reach dance company were exposed to different styles of dance from around the world—from modern to hip-hop, from ballet to traditional Haitian, and from Chinese dance to Krumping. Reach offered unique benefits beyond dance and performance training. A key goal of the program was to prepare teen apprentices for future employment and college. Reach was specifically designed to create a safe and secure learning environment for its teens, allowing them to get the most out of their summer experience.

According to a study conducted by the YouthARTS Development Project, teens who participate in the arts showed a decreased frequency of delinquent behavior when compared to their non-participating peers. Likewise, participating youth were more likely to show improvement in their attitudes toward school, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Reach, as an arts program, provides this opportunity to both the teen apprentices and community members and groups that get involved.

Reach’s teen apprentices worked alongside professional staff and college interns,  and were encouraged to initiate ideas for the movement workshops and to co-teach. Apprentices witnessed adults focusing on a daily regimen, working through a creative process, meeting commitments, and continuing to grow and learn.

Reach teen apprentices were coached in teaching methods and leadership, which helped prepare them to work in the community. We added a Pedagogy Workshop Intensive in 2022 for our professional staff, college interns, teen apprentices, and alumni with interactive sessions with guest teachers, and brainstorming sessions with a focus on lesson planning, developing one’s teaching personae, injury prevention, and offering feedback.

Many apprentices have kept in touch with our interns and professional staff, who offered coaching and mentorship beyond the Reach program.

Clips from the Reach 2019 performance. Edited by Olivia Blaisdell.


Clips from the Reach 2018 performance. Edited by Brittany Kubicko.


Student Testimonial

“I really appreciate how the Reach program encourages its participants to consider many different approaches to a career in dance. Right from the time I began dancing, I wanted to become a choreographer. When I first took part in the Reach program at the age of fifteen, I was given the opportunity to create my own dance piece. So not only was I being asked to train and rehearse every day in preparation for our tour, I was being asked to contribute to that tour by way of my own (albeit young) choreographic voice. The Reach program provides a first-hand knowledge of what it means to train, what it means to rehearse, what it means to make work, and what it means to perform as a touring company. It allows you to follow your interests in dance, while expanding your view of all those other interests you may never have even considered. When I returned to the Reach program as a college intern some years later, I was not only asked to make a piece, I was asked to teach classes in choreography and improvisation.

Every time I have had the opportunity to get involved with the Reach program, I have found the experience as challenging as it is rewarding. I have been made to exercise my strengths, and I have been made to stretch the limits of my comfort zone. And by way of the tour, I have been able to witness how important it is to bring dance to kids of all ages, to give them a taste of what a career in dance means. In this way, the Reach program gives its young participants the opportunity to start taking an active part in the dance world; to become valuable members of the dance community.”

– Mike Winward, a Reach participant

Parent Testimonial

“For the past four summers, first my son and then my daughter served as teen apprentices at Reach. The program provided my children excellent dance instruction in a wide range of styles, extensive performance experience, and invaluable role model and leadership opportunities. But what I find most remarkable about Reach is its knack for attracting—year after year—an extraordinary and diverse group of young people who are truly committed to the program, the art of dance, their communities, and each other. For five weeks each summer, Reach creates a space for kids who are passionate about dance to simultaneously focus on their art while stretching themselves, literally and figuratively! Beyond the five weeks, they have friendships with the other teens and the staff that are deep and lasting—it really does feel like a family. My kids definitely grew as dancers while at Reach, but they also came away from the program believing that they had been a part of something special—and they had.”

– Bethany, a Reach parent