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Derek Mitchell (Photo by Montana U.S.A.)

 Derek Mitchell is one of today’s most sought-after choreographers, with credits including So You Think You Can Dance in the Ukraine and Jerry Mitchell’s Broadway Bares. He is the Artistic Director of The Derek Mitchell Dance Company, one of the featured companies in thesecond annual Brooklyn Dance Festival, which will take place Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 at the Actors Fund Arts Center in downtown Brooklyn. 

In the interview below, Mitchell discusses his mentors, his favorite part of the rehearsal process, and more.

What piece are you performing at The Brooklyn Dance Festival and what is the idea or inspiration behind it?

I am presenting a piece titled I Love You. The sole inspiration behind the piece is my mother.

What is your dance background?

I started dancing at the age of seven in the children’s program of Hines/Hatchett Performing Arts Center, which is now known as Broadway Dance Center. I have studied there ever since and joined the faculty there in 2001. I was also on scholarship with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. I have performed, taught and choreographed all over the world.

Who were your mentors, and who are the dancers or choreographers you find inspiring today?

My mentors were Frank Hatchett and Sheila Barker. Today I am only inspired by those who seek to share rather than show off. I enjoy the works of Tessandra Chavez, Abstrakt Beings, Marty Kudelka, The Ailey Company, and the legacy of Bob Fosse that lives through and resides in the new choreographers of today.

Favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Finding the new in the old. Finding the magic in the expected.

Most played songs on your iPod?

Stevie Wonder songs.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of dance?

I love to travel, eat and do yoga.

To learn more about the Brooklyn Dance Festival or to purchase tickets, visit brooklyndancefestival.org. And check out our Facebook page for the latest Festival news, artist interviews, and more.

Interview conducted by Elisa Lichtenbaum. A Senior Writer at Thirteen/WNET New York, Elisa has written articles on subjects ranging from Woody Allen to Downton Abbey. She studies tap dance with Germaine Salsberg.