An artist's take on mentoring

Throughout National Mentoring Month, we will be highlighting different perspectives on The Mentor Effect from community leaders across Massachusetts. Today's perspective comes from Yo-el Cassell, the Citydance program manager at the Boston Ballet. Yo-el is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and has performed in a variety of shows and films, as well as with the Virginia Opera, Heidi Latsky Dance, Chen and Dancers, The American Mime Theater, Spencer/Colton, Pearl Lang Dance Theater, and more.

Why do you believe mentoring is important?

Yo-el Cassell ©Kim KennedyTo mentor is to have the opportunity to not only inspire and inform but to create relate-ability, guidance and support. Without the art of mentoring, we as individuals lose the ability to inspire, be inspired and create meaningful relationships. These relationships can help shape and inform not only a  particular individual, but they also give that individual the keys to unlock and inspire others in society. When one is mentoring, they are in a unique situation to provide a perspective that is organic, fluid and personal that to me personally, becomes more impactful and impressionistic.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

The mentors from my life are wonderfully etched in my memory for building particular aspects of my identity, both personally and artistically. I truly believe in mentoring not only to inspire and inform others but to pass on the memories and lessons that these mentors have provided for me. They literally shaped the way I approach life, the way I value life and the way I can enrich not only my soul but hopefully and thankfully, the soul of others.

My mentors supported, provoked and inspired in so many different ways. I also am blessed to have had so many incredible mentors. Some include my inspiring father and mother, Arnold and Edna Cassell, who informed my positive outlook and approach in life and in the arts; and my grandfather, Jesus Garcia, confirmed my passion for creativity. Some of my teachers, such as Marina Votta, Michael Lawrence, Sam Kurkjian and  Richard Colton, inspired  me to affirm my belief in how I cannot merely be just a choreographer, dancer or teacher but truly a versatile artist  on a path of discovery each and every day. My wife, Melodie Jeffery-Cassell, made me deeply trust who I am as a person. Lastly, my students are mentors as well, taking advantage of the opportunity to believe that if you can impress the work you are doing then in the end, like mentoring, you are leaving an impression that is memorable, organic and personal.

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