Yusha-Marie Sorzano

"Ooo-sha"

Yusha-Marie Sorzano originally hails from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ask her about the silent "Y"). She received her primary instruction from New World School of the Arts, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, and the Dance Theater of Harlem. ​In her senior year at New World, she received an award for outstanding choreography and was a National YoungArts Foundation award winner in dance. ​She went on to attend the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program and in her junior year was invited to join Ailey II.

As a dancer, Ms. Sorzano is always hungry to stretch her artistic boundaries by working with new companies and choreographers. She has been attached to a number of nationally recognized companies, including Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has performed in principal roles with the Ailey company and in a wide variety of concert works, including works by noted choreographers Ulysses Dove, Maurice Béjart, Hofesh Shechter, Kyle Abraham, and Mauro Bigonzetti. Additionally, she has performed alongside recording artists, made film and television appearances, and danced in theater and opera.

As a creator, Ms. Sorzano has choreographed works for Santa Barbara Dance Theater and numerous schools and training programs, and she is currently working on a new piece that combines concert dance with an immersive audience experience. She served as a movement consultant to John Legend for NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” and was part of the creative team curating promotional material for the live event. Ms. Sorzano was also the recipient of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s New Directions Choreography Lab in 2018 and was the National YoungArts Foundation’s 2019 Fall Dance Artist-In-Residence.

Ms. Sorzano is deeply passionate about the powerful role that educators play in the lives of young artists. As an instructor, she has had the pleasure of teaching at esteemed educational institutions and festivals around the world, from her native Trinidad to the United States and beyond.

Ms. Sorzano is currently a member of Camille A. Brown & Dancers and is founding co-artistic director of the newly formed Zeitgeist Dance Theatre, as well as serving as Associate Director for Program Development with Francisco Gella Dance Works.

Companies

Theater

Choreography

TV, Film and Recording Artists

Teaching

Artist Statement

When I was 8, having recently arrived from Trinidad & Tobago, I tried to eradicate my Caribbean accent by watching hours of American television. I was hurt by the taunting of my classmates. In a year I was speaking just like everyone else, but fresh taunting from my own family that I’d become a “yankee” made me feel like I was no longer Trini. I was experiencing the realities of code switching. As a woman, an immigrant, and a classically trained dancer, I’ve always felt a pull towards the switch. I was constantly adjusting to the ever-changing definition of femininity, to the various subcultures of which I am a part, and to my own ever-expanding ideas of what constitutes excellence in dance.

Code switching is a nuanced and vital part of how I’ve culturally connected with the world at large. It offers me the opportunity to listen, communicate, and understand disparate worlds. This understanding has fueled my artistry, offering a wealth of information to pull from for roles as a performer and as a choreographer. But it has also led to some serious soul searching as I’ve fought to reconcile my personal identity with my code-switching selves. Along that journey I began to bridge the rhythms of my native culture — the isolation of the hips and the folkloric dances — with classical concert dance. The internal battle waged to reconcile the two led me to realize that being a complete human is about finding harmony among our many selves, our many distinct languages. This desire to communicate what I believe is a universal experience is at the core of my work.