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The Peridance Youth Ensemble is a renowned dance company that was founded in 2000. Comprising dancers between the ages of 14 and 18, the ensemble is performance-based and primarily focuses on contemporary dance. The company emphasizes ballet and modern techniques while also developing dancers' improvisational skills.

The Peridance Youth Ensemble provides young dancers with the opportunity to train and perform in a professional setting, honing their skills and nurturing their artistic development. The company's curriculum includes intensive dance training in various styles, with a strong emphasis on contemporary dance, which combines elements of ballet, modern dance, and other contemporary movement practices.

Through their training and rehearsals, the dancers of the Peridance Youth Ensemble gain proficiency in both ballet and modern dance techniques. Ballet provides a strong technical foundation, emphasizing control, grace, and precision. Modern dance, on the other hand, offers a more expressive and innovative approach, exploring different movements, dynamics, and musicality.

In addition to technical training, the company places a significant focus on improvisation. Improvisational skills are essential for contemporary dancers as they allow for artistic freedom, creativity, and the ability to respond spontaneously to the music, space, and fellow dancers. Developing improvisational skills enables dancers to expand their artistic range and create unique performances.

The Peridance Youth Ensemble offers numerous performance opportunities for its dancers. Through regular showcases, community events, and collaborations with other artists, the ensemble provides a platform for young dancers to share their talent and showcase their hard work. These performances also contribute to the dancers' growth, enabling them to refine their stage presence, artistry, and ability to connect with an audience. Diego Funes is the director of the Peridance Youth Ensemble.


Peridance Youth Ensemble has two major goals:
1. To provide dance training of the highest caliber to young dancers, preparing them for a professional career in dance.
2. To make the art of dance accessible to at-risk youth, through free performances, interactive workshops and seminars.


Peridance Youth Ensemble was founded in 2000 as a natural extension of the professional non-profit Peridance Contemporary Dance Company. It is now separated into two companies: the Junior Youth Ensemble and Senior Youth Ensemble. The Ensemble dancers, aged 14-18 years old, are trained extensively as the highest levels of The School at Peridance's Core Program and enjoy multiple performance opportunities, representing both Peridance Center and the main Company in their outreach activities.

Training and performing with Peridance Youth Ensemble and later with Peridance's Certificate Program prepares young dancers who are pursuing a professional career in dance to join Peridance Contemporary Dance Company or, alternatively, an academic route such as a university degree program.


Peridance Youth Ensemble's dancers are accepted by audition only. This highly individualized training program offers a well-rounded curriculum comprised of weekly technique classes and rehearsals. The training that Ensemble students receive are the highest levels of the Core Program, which is the pre professional dance training program of The School at Peridance (more info here).

The devoted faculty provides a positive and healthy training environment. Faculty includes Diego Funes, Graciela Kozak, Nikki Holck, Billy Blanken, and Tyler Gilstrap.


In addition to an extensive, well-rounded curriculum, dancers learn choreography from emerging and established artists, which they later perform in different venues around the city. Choreographers to date include Martha Graham (set on the Company by Marnie Thomas), Robert Battle, Igal Perry, Sean Curran, Kate Skartepowska, Kristin Sudeikis, Diego Funes, Hernando Cortez, Gregory Dolbashian, Edgar Zendejas, Analia Gonzalez, Deborah Damast, and Tyler Gilstrap.

Under the direction of Diego Funes, Ensemble dancers are offered the opportunity to explore time, space, and energy, developing their own unique artistic voice and creating original choreography. This choreography is later showcased in their Annual Spring Choreography Showcase and in outside venues such as the 92nd Street Y's "High at Noon Series" and WOW Cafe.


For the past 12 years, Peridance Youth Ensemble has positively influenced hundreds of children from various organizations by extending their knowledge and love for dance through performances and interactive workshops, inspiring participants and enhancing their sense of community. The ensemble has worked with organizations include the University Settlement, Services at the Beacon and Turn 2 Foundation.


Lev Ratnofsky graduated 2012 - Harvard University
Dani Sacco graduated 2012 - University of the Arts as a Dance Major
Tsarina Merrin graduated in 2012 - Bates University
Anna Sednova graduated in 2011 - Iowa State University as a Dance Major
Youjing Streeter graduated in 2011 - Skidmore College
Emily Geisler graduated in 2010 - Montclair State University as a Dance Major
Gisselle Vazquez graduated in 2010 - Hofstra University as a Dance Major
Emma Hoite graduated in 2010 - Tulane College
Helene Lee graduated in 2010 - University of Buffalo
Jackson Budinger graduated in 2009 - SUNY Purchase Conservatory as a Dance Major
Elizabeth Gallagher graduated in 2009 - Marymount Manhattan College as a Dance Major
Rachel Caron Delas graduated in 2009 - Barnard College as a Dance Minor
Cherie Caro graduated in 2008 - Marymount Manhattan College as a Dance Major
Nancy Stedfeld graduated in 2008 - Marymount College as Dance Minor
Ashley Lehrer graduated in 2007 - NYU Tisch School of the Arts as a Drama Major
Corrina Kirby graduated in 2007 - Binghamton University
Emma Thomas graduated in 2007 - Bard University
Annie Perretta graduated 2006 - Wesleyan College as a Dance Major
Phoebe Pickering graduated in 2006 - Tufts University as a Dance Major
Sasha Okshteyn graduated in 2005 - George Washington University
Nora Madsen graduated in 2005 - University of California, Santa Cruz
Jaclyn London graduated in 2004 - Northwestern as a Dance Major


For more information and to audition please contact the Youth Ensemble Director Diego Funes at
212-505-0886 or

Alyssa Fulmer Headshot

Diego Funes - Youth Ensemble Director

Diego Funes, now the Peridance Youth Ensemble Director, attended the School of American Ballet and later danced with the Cincinnati Ballet and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. He has performed in and choreographed many theater productions. He is the artistic director of De Funes Dance Company.

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