Yo-el Cassell was born in Schennectady, New York. He graduated magna cum laude from Boston Conservatory, where he also received training in mime and puppetry. Once his studies were complete, Cassell performed with The Paul Taylor Dance Company, Twyla Tharp Dance, Pearl Lang Dance Theater, The Virginia Opera, Spencer/Colton Dance, Julie Taymor, the PBS Broadcast of Shining Time Station, and the motion picture, What Alice Found. He also appeared as the title role in the Broadway production of Pinocchio (Gepetto and Son), for which he received the 2008 Tony Award. The New York Times raved, “A cross betweeen Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire and a beautiful modern dancer, Mr. Cassell moves in an original and holistic way. He conveys that inner spark that just wants to escape…his dancing is simply transporting and engrossing.”
A prolific choreographer and teacher, Cassell is the recipient of the Lotte Kaliski Award for Gifted Artists and has received a fellowship from Summer Stages Dance in Massachusetts. He has presented his choreographic images in and outside of New York City, including the American Repertory Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Tarrytown Music Hall, the Helsinki Dance Festival, St. Mark’s Church, Joyce Soho, the Walnut Hill School of the Arts, the Boston Opera Collaborative, The Common Wealth Shakespeare Company, Symphony Space, The Nantucket Dreamland Theater, and Skidmore College, where he was a guest artist/teacher in residence. He has also created work for Hubbard Street Dance, Washington Ballet, and his choreography can be seen in the films Cultivating Stillness, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Rob Marshall’s Memiors of a Geisha among others. He is currently the Resident Choreographer for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Boston Opera Collaborative. This fall, his work will be seen in the American Repertory’s production of Lilly’s Revenge.
Cassell is the artistic director of YC Movement Theater, a fusionist dance theater ensemble. Their production of Moonlight Interior recently premiered to critical and public acclaim off-Broadway. He has also taught at the Walnut Hill School of the Arts, the School for Film and Television in NYC, New England Conservatory,and the American Repertory Theater. A recent recipient of the National Thought Leader Fellowship from the Kennedy Center, His teaching stresses the importance of creating a well-rounded dancer as artist, combining solid technique with an innate sense of artistry. For Boston Ballet, he is also the program manager for Citydance and helped developed Taking Step’s Boys in Motion class, a chance to dance experience for boys. He dedicates his teaching to his soulmate and wife, Melodie.