Youth Theatre Interactions

HomeWhat we dohow we do it performancesHonors and Awards Contact

Mission Statement

History

Goals

Board of Directors

YTI Staff

YTI Instructors

African DrumsWho We Are

Mission Statement

YTI provides professional instruction in the performing arts to Westchester County youth, with the support and participation of their parents, for the purpose of fostering in these young people discipline, confidence, critical thinking and pride in accomplishments, so that they can become positive contributors to the workplace and to society and proceed into the professional world of the arts, if they so choose.

YTI ALTERS THE FUTURE BY EMPOWERING YOUNG LIVES TODAY!

Goals

  • Develop in our students their artistic abilities encouraging the full use of their creative potential

  • Instill in our students a sense of the potential power of the arts

  • Provide performance experiences for our students in libraries, churches, community centers, senior centers, youth agencies and in collaboration with other Westchester community-based organizations

  • Maximize the connection between YTI students and the real world of the performing arts in three major ways:

    • Using working professional artists as class instructors
    • Providing workshops that prepare students for professional auditions
    • Exposing students to stage management and production techniques while they are preparing for performances

  • To encourage the parent to participate in a quantifiable way in the work of YTI and to his or her child's personal growth and artistic development

back to top

History

In 1971, the Yonkers Community Action Program was asked to develop an after-school program that would help keep kids away from drugs and crime.  James P. Hill, an employee of YCAP and professional musician, developed the School 12 Program, which began as a music workshop.  Shortly after, Mr. Hill met Paul Kwame Johnson, then a theater major at Sarah Lawrence College.  Mr. Johnson added his expertise to establish a new drama workshop in the School 12 program.  In 1973, Hill and Johnson along with co-founder Turhan Von Brandon sought non-profit status for their program and renamed it Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc., a performing arts school providing instruction free of charge.  As interest and funding grew, the program was expanded to include dance workshops, photography, training in lighting design, sound and stage management.

back to top

Kwame Johnson, Dr. Mary Lane & Jimmy Hill

YTI Founder Kwame Johnson,
Board President Dr. Mary Lane &
YTI Founder Jimmy Hill

Board of Directors

Mary E. Lane, M.D. - President
The Rev. DeForest L. Raphael -
Vice President
Thomas F. O’Keefe - Treasurer
Elliott Black
Hon. Symra D. Brandon
Genia Flammia
Deborah Hudson-Jenkins
Kenneth Lee
Judith Z. Matson
Suzanne Newman
Danette L. Quinlan
Stephen M. Sansone
Rona Shapiro
Hon. Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Founders

James P. Hill, Paul Kwame Johnson, Turhan Von Brandon

Advisory Board

Patricia Adams, Turhan Von Brandon, Michael Friedman, Dorothy Johnson, Dorothy Orr, Dave Sarran, Paula Redd-Zeman

back to top

YTI Staff

Mamie Duncan-Gibbs, Executive/Artistic Director
Mamie Duncan-Gibbs is the Executive/Artistic Director for Westchester County’s Youth Theatre Interactions (YTI), an organization dedicated to teaching children the importance of discipline, confidence and creativity through the model of the performing arts. 

A Broadway professional with credits ranging from Jelly’s Last Jam to Sweet Charity and Chicago, Duncan-Gibbs joined YTI in 2003 when co-founder Paul Kwame chose her as his successor.  Intent on providing the best instruction for students, Duncan-Gibbs has since persuaded Broadway professionals such as Jimmy Tate (tap and vocal choir), Lynn Sterling (ballet), Regina Hood (modern dance) and Aixa Rosario Medina (Latin Dance) to share their experience with YTI students as they learn the art of dance, music and drama. 

Since assuming the executive position, Duncan Gibbs has added to the organization’s core curriculum. A  firm believer that managing a career is as important as choosing one, Duncan-Gibbs, along with Administrative Director, Beverly Taylor, were the first to create and develop innovative workshops intended to prepare students to cope with the business decisions that confront anyone in any profession.  And, there is a Theatre Dance course that focuses on audition preparation, staging and performance techniques, a complement to popular Hip Hop, African, Modern and Step Dance classes.  

Mamie Duncan-Gibbs is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts where she first took classes under the direction of the famous jazz dance teacher, Frank Hatchett.  She attended the Boston Conservatory of Music then moved to New York City for a chance at The Great White Way. While on Broadway, Mamie Duncan-Gibbs worked with some its brightest stars, including Gregory Hines, Bob Fosse, Liza Minnelli and Bebe Neuwirth.  She is a proud member of Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and The American Guild of Variety Artists.  Ms. Duncan-Gibbs lives in Westchester with her musician husband Marvin Gibbs and their two children, Paula and Joseph.  

Beverly A. Taylor, M.S., Administrative Director
Beverly A. Taylor is the Administrative Director of Youth Theatre Interactions (YTI), a Westchester non-profit organization offering instruction in the performing arts for youth ages 6-19 years old.  She is responsible for expanding and strengthening YTI’s funding base and capacity through securing government, corporate, foundation and individual grants and donations.  In addition, Beverly is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations and budget management.

Together with the Executive/Artistic Director, Beverly assists in the development and expansion of program offerings ensuring that YTI prepares its students for a career in the performing arts.  An experienced higher education administrator, Ms. Taylor is particularly suited to developing a series of workshops designed to teach students how career management skills compliment and support their chosen craft.

Prior to joining YTI, Beverly Taylor was the Dean of Advisement & Student Records at Berkeley College, White Plains, NY Campus.  She is the founder of Taylor Consulting, a firm specializing in program development, assessment, grant writing and specialized trainings.  A dedicated civic leader, Beverly is President of the Board of Directors for the Council for an Institute of Technology, a Yonkers, New York community volunteer organization dedicated to bringing a 4-year institution of higher learning to Yonkers.

Beverly Taylor has been honored by a number of academic institutions. She is the recipient of a Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Leadership from The National Institute of Health’s Bridges to Baccalaureate Program; was presented the Recognition for Leadership, Support and Dedication to Students, Parents and Teachers Award from Yonkers Public Schools District and received the Appreciation for Outstanding Leadership and Support Award from New York City’s Technical Career Institute (TCI).  Ms. Taylor is listed in the Honor Edition of the Cambridge Registry of “Who’s Who in America’s Executives and Professionals.”

Beverly Taylor received a BS in Business from Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, a MS in Educational Leadership from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and earned post-graduate credits from Long Island University in counseling at-risk youth.  She lives in Yonkers, New York with her husband, Albert Taylor and their two children, Tye and Derek.

Carla Ann Roudette-Brown – Administrative Assistant
Native born Trinidadian, she is the mother of a 25-year-old son currently in the United States Navy. Before relocating to Yonkers, Ms. Roudette-Brown was the Administrative Assistant for the parish of St. Matthews Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn for almost ten years.  Prior to that she worked with RKO General for more than 10 years. She attended Mayers School of Fashion Design in NYC, New York State Paralegal School becoming certified as a Paralegal. 

Pedro Lopez, Jr. – Technical Director
Also our Photography/Substitute for African Percussion/Beginning Drama and a member of our full-time staff since 1993, Mr. Lopez joined YTI when he was fifteen years old and excelled in drama, music, mime, photography and our technical programs.  Mr. Lopez performed at Lincoln Center “Out of Doors Mime Festival” in 1980, 1981 and 1982 with the YTI “Mime Time Players.”  He was a member of the Obie award winning theater company, “The Family/La Familia.”  In 2000 Mr. Lopez was accepted into the Sarah Lawrence College Theatre Department’s Community Partnership Technical Director Apprentice Program.  He has since completed the program and holds a certificate from Sarah Lawrence.

Consultants

Paul Kwame Johnson – Founding Artistic Director

back to top

YTI Instructors

Mamie Duncan-Gibbs (Theatre Dance and "Intimate Realities")
See bio above

Stanley Hart (Volunteer - Intergenerational Drama Company) is an Emmy Award Winner who comes to YTI through The Volunteer Center of United Way. He has written for stage, screen and television for over 40 years. Theatre credits include co-author of The Mad Show (1966-1968), author of Some of My Best Friends (directed by Hal Prince at the Longacre Theater, NYC, 1977), author of Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (Norris Theater in Palos Verdes, CA 1985) and co-author of Old Enough to Know Better?'s Comedy Sketchbook (Lakeland Playhouse in Littleton, NC, 2002. He wrote the screenplay for Move (20th Century Fox, starring Elliot Gould), and two short films with Saul Bass (both Academy Award nominees for Best Short Film, Live Action). He was a writer for The Carol Burnett Show (1971-1972) winning an Emmy for Best Writing, Variety, 1972, and the head writer for show from 1972-1973, winning a second Emmy for Best Writing, Variety, 1973. He was also a writer for numerous television specials including: Paul Lynde?'s Wishes, Hal Linden?'s Big Apple, Bob Hope For President, Bonnie and The Franklins, and Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews; Together Again. His credits go on and on, and we are thrilled to have him here with us sharing his knowledge and experience with our youth as well as our seniors.

Regina Hood (Modern Dance) Regina began her formal dance training at the North Carolina School of the Arts, studying modern dance (Horton/Graham/Limon), ballet and jazz. Inspired after attending a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, she subsequently was accepted into the Ailey school as a scholarship student and went on to perform with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Theatre (Ailey II). She has also performed with the Agnes DeMille Heritage Theater as a soloist and with Ballet Hispanico of New York. Musical theatre credits include: "West Side Story", "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God", and extensive tours throughout the US and Europe in "Evita." She has worked as a teaching artist with the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation and New York City Parks and Recreation Dept. She has also devoted time as a volunteer tutor for Literacy Partners., Inc. of New York.

Alston Jack (Steel Band) – Mr. Alston Jack of Tobago has joined the faculty of YTI as our new instructor of Steel Drums and Director of the YTI Pan Band.  Mr. Jack is a steel drum player, arranger and composer.  He has worked with Moods Steel Orchestra, Bamboo Steel Band, Harlem All Stars Orchestra, Tobago All Stars Steel Orchestra, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and Renegades Steel Orchestra.  He has appeared at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Apollo, Birdland and the Village Gate, as well as on tour in Finland and Mexico.  He conducts lecture/demonstrations with the YTI Pan Band as well as composing, arranging and directing for our touring Steel Band.  In addition to his love of Steel Band, Mr. Jack also enjoys acting, singing, songwriting and percussion. 

Youssouf Koumbassa (African Dance and African Percussion) – teaches African dance and African percussion and has been with YTI for the past eighteen years. He is a native of Guinea, West Africa and is a master drummer, dancer and choreographer having been trained with the National Ballet of Guinea. Mr. Koumbassa is the Artistic Director of Les Ballets Bagata of NYC. He teaches and performs internationally throughout the year. Mr. Koumbassa speaks fifteen African languages in addition to French and English and shares his culture with YTI students.

back to top

Bobby LaVell (Music) LaVell was born in Memphis, Tennessee where in high school he gained an interest in music. He attended Memphis State and Shelby State where he became proficient as an arranger and music composer. LaVell continues to perform throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, and the Caribbean. He has worked alongside B.B. King, Ray Charles, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Nicholas Brothers, and currently tours with The Duke Ellington Orchestra. He founded and leads The Hudson River Jazz Orchestra.

Michael LeVasseur (Vocal Choir) Michael is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (2004) where he studied Immunology, Medical Anthropology, and Entertainment Business. In 2001, he co-founded the college's first all male a cappella group, Vocal Minority, where he served as musical director of the contemporary genre all-male group. He was also a member of the traditional genre co-ed group, Res Miranda, who he appeared with on "The View" as a special performance for Barbara Walters' birthday in 2002. Michael now works for the Weill Cornell Medical College as the Anatomical Gift Coordinator and Administrator for the Program in Anatomy. Michael sings bass, baritone, and tenor' plays piano and saxophone; and writes the vocal arrangements for most of the pieces performed by the choir.

Ricardo Lima (Int. Drama, Intergenerational Drama, “Intimate Realities”) – A recent graduate of SUNY Purchase, and an alumnus of Youth Theatre Interactions, Ricardo Lima is delighted to now be a member of the faculty.  Mr. Lima began by teaching Beginner Drama in the fall of 2001.  More recently he has been named Assistant Director of the “Intimate Realities” touring troupe.  Mr. Lima has studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School where he also appeared in a night of Noel Coward one-acts and stage-managed a production of Christopher Durang’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo”.  Currently Ricardo is a student at the Conservatory at SUNY Purchase and is already making a name for himself as assistant to the director in 2003’s production of “Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.”  Some of Ricardo’s other credits include choreographing for the Westchester Invaders and the role of Banquo in Piper Theater Productions’ 2001 version of “Macbeth.” Ricardo also was the recipient of NAACP ACT-SO Regional awards for playwriting in 1997 and 1998.

Pedro Lopez, Jr. (Photography/Substitute for African Percussion/Beginning Drama)
(see bio above)

Aixa M. Rosario Medina (Latin Dance) A native of Puerto Rico, Aiza M. Rosario Medina has been living in NY for the last 18 years, performing regionally and internationally. Professional experiences include: Broadway (Victor Victoria, Once upon a Mattress, A Christmas Carol), regional and international theatres; industrials, television, film, commercials, choreographer, assistant choreographer, and dance instructor. She presently owns a Pilates studio in Yonkers, NY where she live with her much-loved husband Paul and son Aidan.

back to top

Yvonne McFall (Hip Hop Dance and Step Dance) - Born in Manhattan, New York,Yvonne is an optimistic, spirit driven person willing to work hard for her successes in life. Along with her versatility, she has no problem stepping out and learning something new. She believes that education is fruit to her life. At the tender age of six years old she realized what her purpose in life would be. God had blessed her with a melodic voice and inspirational lyrics to match. Yvonne began teaching at the age of seventeen when she started the first Step Team at Yonkers High School. While teaching different rhythmic routines, she also performed in many programs as a singer, dancer, and/or choreographer

Alexandria Meyers (Substitute for African Dance) – Zan has been trained by the most well-known professionals in the arts, including Bernice Johnson, Michael Peters, and Ben Vereen. She has also worked alongside Carolyn DeVore, Kevin A. Hunt, Arron Dugger, Sarita Allen, Nasha Thomas (all principal dancers with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company), Kevin Jeff (Director, Jubilation Dance Company), and Chuck Davis (Director, Dance Africa). Her abilities have enabled her to capture the spirits of movements through the traditions of dance in: West African Dance, Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Modern Dance. She has traveled the world performing and teaching and enjoys every minute of it.

Lynn Sterling (Ballet) Lynn Sterling has performed all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, and the nearly the entire continental United States. She has appeared in the casts of "Evita", "Anything Goes", "Oh, Kay!", "Can-Can", and Bob Fosse's last company of "Sweet Charity". Lynn has also performed the starring roles of The Danseuse, in the national and international companies of "Sophisticated Ladies"; Charlaine, in "Ain't Misbehavin'"; the leading singer/dancer role in the international company of "Fosse"; and the coveted role of Anita in the recent national tour of "West Side Story". On Broadway, Lynn appeared in "Cats" in the roles of Demeter, Bombalurina, and Cassandra. She was also a member of the original cast of "The Life", in which she played the role of the fiery redheaded Carmen. In addition to performing, Lynn has staged and directed five companies of the hit musical revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe", including one company composed of the final Broadway cast, and two companies which starred the great Gladys Knight.

Jimmy Tate (Tap) Jimmy Tate has been performing on stage for over 25 years. He did his first Broadway show at the age of 13; where he played the title role in THE TAP DANCE KID. From there he went on to appear in the Tony Award winning Best Musical -BIG RIVER; JELLY'S LAST JAM, with Savion Glover and Gregory Hines; BRING IN 'DA NOISE, BRING IN 'DA FUNK, also with Glover; and the Irish smash hit RIVERDANCE. On tour, Jimmy recreated Savion Glover's Tony Award nominated role in BRING IN 'DA NOISE, BRING IN 'DA FUNK, and won a 1998 Ovation Award for his performance. He has appeared on "Late Night" with David Letterman, twice on the Rosie O'Donnell Show, and three times on "The Late Show" with Jay Leno. Jimmy danced for former President Bill Clinton at the 1995 Kennedy Center Honors, and at the 1997 Presidential Gala. Jimmy is also a singer/songwriter/guitarist. His first CD "Play Me" was finished in the summer of 2000. His next release came out in May 2003 - a collaboration with guitarist David Leiter under the group name "Sphinx", featuring tracks of his unique tap style and funky rock and roll tracks. Website at www.sphinxmusic.com

 

back to top