The South Colonie Alumni Series continues as we take you one-on-one with former CCHS graduate Corey John Snide. Corey’s story is unique in that he found success outside of the region and has brought those tangible skill sets back to our area to help others develop their own dreams and pathways. A 2015 graduate of The Juilliard School, which is a private performing arts conservatory in New York City and is considered as one of the world’s leading drama, music, and dance schools – – he built his performance and creative resume on film, television and theatrical productions in New York City and around the globe from the age of 13 until present. As he pursued his dreams , he enrolled in online classes that continued to keep him up-to-date on his studies until he returned to the region during his sophomore year. He eventually returned to a normal class schedule and graduated with the CCHS Class of 2011.
After living in New York City, and with the COVID-19 pandemic altering many individuals’ thought process of who and what they wanted to be, he found himself drawn back to the Capital Region. After a period of time, he established the Capital District Arts Initiative. It’s here that he took his professional acumen and shared it with others in the region that were seeking to strengthen their artistic and performance vision, while staying close to home. The Capital District Arts Initiative is a community-based organization that allows participants to gain valuable experience in their interest area in the performing arts – – whether its dancing, college or pre-professional mentorship or finding ways to strengthen community outreach as well as professional community collaborative development– CDAI has you covered.
Special thanks to Mr. Snide for participating in this month’s Alumni Series feature.
How did you initially get involved with the performing arts? Does one singular moment stand out?
My mother was a dancer for 15 years and I have never known my life without it. I know that it took me a few months to have the courage to actually take the floor, but I was enthralled by creative expression through movement and my mother knew it would be something that would stick with me forever. Though I trained locally for the first eight years of my dance life, my leading role in the West End and Australian productions of Billy Elliot the Musical really solidified my devotion to the performing arts as a career.
Describe your career in one-word?
Can I use a few one-words? Haha. Versatile. Fulfilling. Empowering.
How has the transition to the Capital Region been for you personally and professionally?
I have always known that my long-term goals included giving back to the community where I am rooted and was built. There is incredible, internationally recognized talent that comes out of the Capital Region, and though I wasn’t planning on pursuing this as early in my life, it just felt right to do it now. When the momentum of “my career” was screeched to a halt, my first thought was “build from here” and that meant building an education program, investing in the community by learning it from the inside out and helping expand upon the pre-existing brilliance that exists here. As CDAI grows, we are hoping to include more advocacy and collaboration with local artists so as to help build more of a local identity and increase artistic momentum, while impacting the community. Some have told me that this is a deviation from my career, but I consider it the pinnacle of it.
How do you envision CDAI to grow as a community-based performing arts organization?
Our arts education program is going to connect the Capital Region with a network of leading educators to provide the most diversified access to the creative industry. The goal is not to reserve this for the most devoted artists, but hopefully bring this inspiration to the community. Whether you are pursuing the performing arts as a devoted career or just want to explore the incredible benefits of creative expression and freedom, we hope our program will innovate the way you allow the arts to enrich your everyday lives. In addition to this, we are actively looking for ways to empower and collaborate with the local creative community — so as to build a more sustainable, visible, and accessible local creative identity and industry.
How can your accessibility play a role in those seeking opportunities in the arts?
I have had the wonderful opportunities to work with artists like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Andy Blankenbuehler (Choreographer of Hamilton, three-time Tony Award Winner), and more. I have worked in almost any role you can as a performing artist. I am now taking all of that experience and focusing it into the Capital District Arts Initiative (CDAI), which is devoted to a much “smaller” community compared to the scale of work that I have experienced in my life. When people ask me why I’m not returning to that scale of work and the grand career — I would have to say, “I do not see the work that I’m doing now as smaller scale.” The decentralization of the arts and the incredible movement of artists bringing their experience home, sharing their exposure to communities outside of the metropolis, artistic hubs is, in my opinion, the future. Everyone benefits. Local artists contribute to the pioneering movement and get to establish themselves while at the same time inspiring the next generation to pursue their aspirations at whatever scale they dream. Local identity development through arts empowerment is the way forward.