Photo Credit: Rachel Monteleone
Yvonne-Marie Sain Shares How Dance and Travel Have Enriched Her Life
Yvonne- Marie Sain is forever enriched by dance and travel, and she recently returned from teaching heels, ballet, and jazz classes in South Carolina. Her love for what she does must be genuine, because she visibly lights up when she talks about it.
It isn’t just talk, either. She’s knowledgeable of her craft, and can impart that knowledge to others regardless of their skill level. Even if you have two left feet, you’ll be able to follow her choreography, which stays the same for a few weeks so that students have time to polish it.
When her classes had to be taught virtually because of the pandemic, Yvonne sought creative ways to keep her students engaged.
Dance and travel have taken Yvonne on some memorable trips across The United States and around the world.
“One thing I’ve learned is that dance is a great way to communicate and express, regardless of differences in language or culture,” Yvonne said to Travel Noire. “Whether it’s Russia or Hong Kong or Alabama, using art to tell a story, or make people feel something, is universal.”
Art not only transcends barriers, it provides joy to counter sorrow, and offers an invaluable education. At its highest levels, dance is physically taxing, but even when done for leisure, it’s a great way to keep the body and mind fit. It took years of hard work for Yvonne to reach the heights she has, furthered by an impressive education at Cornell University, where she earned a degree in Dance, Film, and Theater.
“I started dancing when I was only about 3 years old,” she said. “Ballet was the first thing I fell in love with, but then I began to learn jazz, modern dance, and so many other things. I got to focus a lot on dance history, music theory, anatomy and kinesiology, dance composition, etc.”
While all her travels have been memorable, Yvonne waxes poetic about dancing in Haiti, by far her most rewarding experience. Her students at the Institut de Danse Lynn Williams Rouzier (IDDLWR) are mostly children native to the island.
Dance is their escape from relentless challenges, and in some cases a possible ticket for a new beginning.
“Teaching in Haiti has been incredible, and each time I leave, I’m already planning when I get to go back. The students I work with are so amazing. And the studio is a perfect place for the kids to come and work and play hard despite all the intense things they are constantly dealing with. Some kids live in orphanages and about half are full scholarship students paid for by sponsors.”
After being burned down in 2018, IDDLWR was rebuilt, so it could once again provide a safe space for the dancers. Some went on to perform in the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), the largest youth ballet competition in the world, something Yvonne recalls with pride and joy.
Great dance instructors can still be students. While in Haiti, Yvonne studied traditional Haitian Folklore dance. It was a transcendental and illuminating experience that altered her forever. It also deepened her love for the island, the first black nation to successfully overthrow its European colonizers.
So what’s next for Yvonne? She has no desire to get involved in the administrative side of dance, and for that reason, you likely won’t see her open her own studio. As for whether she has a favorite dance style, she loves the versatility of Jazz, but prefers not to limit herself.
“Professionally, I get hired to do everything from Hip Hop to Bollywood to disco and everything in between,” she said. “Being versatile has been the key to my career. I’m able to adapt to a lot of different styles, so I don’t get put in a box about what I can perform or teach.”
Presently, Yvonne teaches at Broadway Dance Center and Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet. She also works for Quest Intensive, which facilitates her domestic dance travels. She and other choreographers from New York and Los Angeles teach at various studios across The United States, culminating in a special showcase at the end.
Keep in step with Yvonne on Instagram @yvonne_maries.