Moving Together is a creative dance company based in Leicester, with an aim of providing an opportunity for young people to access the Arts Award qualification and develop their practical abilities in dance. We have had an incredibly exciting year so far being lucky enough to have taken part in a number of fantastic local and national performance platforms, all of which led to our most recent adventure representing England at the first ever youth dance festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland!
West Midlands choreographer runs Choreolab to support young choreographers
In 2009 I was asked by a group of young people to run a dance course to help them develop choreographic skills, either for college work, university auditions or simply because they enjoyed choreography. It also provided a useful platform for those who were interested in applying for YDE Young Creatives programme, giving them studio space, practical support with their chorographical ideas, and also advice on the application process.
Five participants from the 2-day course applied to Young Creatives and two were successfully chosen for Young Creatives 2010, at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House. The West Midlands Youth Dance Strategy Manager at the time, Toby Norman-Wright, saw potential for the course and assisted in developing the Choreolab with support from YDE to ensure the programme could continue to develop young regional choreographers and feed into the Young Creatives programme. In Autumn 2010 Choreolab took place again, with another two participants selected for the residential programme and performance at the Royal Opera House.
In 2011, two West Midlands choreographers, Freya Thomas (Young Creatives 2010) and Declan Whittaker (Young Creatives 2011), were asked to return to the Royal Opera House to perform their work, but this time on the main stage. Freya was selected to create on two Royal Ballet dancers, with mentoring from Wayne McGregor, whilst Declan performed his Young Creatives 2011 piece. Both pieces were performed as part of the Royal Opera House's Dance Futuresevent in July 2011.
From establishing Choreolab in 2009 I have seen how the course has enabled young people from the West Midlands to develop their ideas and choreographic skills. To have the opportunity to further pursue these ideas through the Young Creatives programme, working alongside mentors chosen for them by YDE, is an invaluable experience.
As a dance artist and choreographer I feel that Choreolab and Young Creatives has enabled young people to access high-quality choreographical workshops and programmes that were not available to them before. The residential programme at White Lodge, in particular, enables participants to gain knowledge from experienced professionals, whilst gaining an insight into the work of their peers.
Young Creatives is a vital programme in nurturing youngsters who may not want to pursue a career as a performer, but may actually be the choreographers of the future!
Choreolab will again be running in August 2011, helping aspiring choreographers from the West Midlands in preparation for the Young Creatives application process. The course will run for 4 afternoons, and will look at improvisation, choreographical skills, tools for developing ideas, as well as exploring how to create their own style as a choreographer and discovering what makes them unique. The course will also include a lighting workshop, providing practical experience; understanding a lighting rig and introducing lighting techniques. The workshop aims to help participants consider how they might enhance their choreography in performance. Choreolab is essential in providing participants with the tools to create their own work and helping aspiring choreographers to foster their creativity.
Jonathan Goddard - Dancer
I began dancing at five in a creative movement group and found that I really enjoyed making my own moves and jumping around to the music! I graduated to my local dance school and at eleven became a Royal Ballet Junior Associate. After two years of monthly training trips to London, I was offered a week’s summer school. The training was hard and I found the competitive nature of the ballet classes difficult, so when offered the chance of a full time place I decided not to go. My parents were supportive and I continued normal schooling, taking my dance lessons on the side.
After my G.C.S.E.s I auditioned for full time training but was turned down by all the classical schools, which was tough. I was offered places by the Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Schools (LCDS) but as I was unable to gain a scholarship to pay for the LCDS fees, I opted to train at Rambert which was free but came as a bit of a shock, having never done any contemporary dance. Faced with a whole new technique I resolved to use what I couldalready do, stay calm and work on what I couldn’t. This attitude has stood me well throughout my career. In the third year of Rambert I was offered an apprenticeship at Scottish Dance Theatre, which was a brilliant experience. I made new friends, learned how to work with different choreographers and developed my teaching which has since proved invaluable. After three years, I returned to London to work with Richard Alston Dance Company where I remained for six years. I loved Richard’s approach to choreography and the interest he showed in his dancers – his work demands the clarity of classical ballet with the flow and grounded-ness of modern dance: not at all easy!
In 2008 I was delighted to gain recognition for my work, winning ‘Best Male Dancer’ at the Critics Circle Awards, the first time a contemporary dancer had won. I also joined Rambert Dance Company. We really work hard but ensure we support each other and try to sneak some fun in whenever we can – I love the company atmosphere!
My advice to any young person would be to be honest with yourself. Look at what you can do well and enjoy it. Look at what is difficult for you and work on it. Dance technique is there not to hinder but to help you find a clarity and ease in your body so that your performing can be generous, relaxed and enjoyable!
Originally published in 2009.
Martha Oakes - Dance and Arts Publicist
I studied ballet throughout my childhood and always wanted to work in a creative, inventive environment. I worked for my father’s advertising consultancy for a couple of years before beginning a BA honors degree in Dance at Laban and continued working for him in the holidays. After finishing my degree and a fourth year running Laban’s youth company and teaching dance, I joined a fringe dance company and a pop group. At the same time I was temping in the press office at Channel 4 television and later got a full-time job as Press Officer at an environmental agency. By that time I was about 27 and decided that I most enjoyed the role of publicist and that I didn’t want to continue as a performer.
In 1987 I set up with a friend as independent dance publicists. I went solo in 1990 and since then have worked hard to increase my knowledge and skills, doing business courses and arts marketing courses and seeing as much dance, art and theatre as I could. I studied a part-time MA in European Cultural Policy and Administration at Warwick University. Since 1996 I have worked with fellow dance and arts publicist Sue Lancashire and together we make a very strong team. Although we have run many marketing campaigns for clients, we now focus on press and media campaigns. Our clients include dance companies, performance companies, arts promoters and arts festivals. In 2009 we worked with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Hofesh Shechter Company, and the City of London Festival, among others.
Once we are taken on by a client, we meet them to find out their aims and objectives and all details of their events and we respond to this with a strategic and timetabled press campaign, focusing our energies on achieving the right results for them.
What we do is very specialist and you need a wide range of skills to do it. Go to see lots of performance, dance yourself, read and experience a wide range of media, get to know people and keep their contact details, learn to write well, learn how to run your own business, ask for help, look for mentors, do work experience, promote your friends’ shows for free, speak other languages, keep healthy, keep smiling. What I do now is my perfect job and I am continually challenged and inspired by it.
Originally published in 2009.
Michelle Kettle - Freelance Dance Film Artist
I first started Irish dancing aged 13, was always interested in performance and loved drama at school, but was never offered dance. I only discovered contemporary dance at A-level. I studied for A-Level Performing Arts, GCSE Dance and then took a degree in Dance at Chester University. At university I discovered dance for camera and I loved it! I spent hours in the library, watching dance made for the camera and soon purchased a very cheap camcorder and started to experiment with ideas. I opted to take modules in Dance for Screen that enabled me to learn and discover this was the path I wanted to go down, rather than performance. I studied a Post Graduate Diploma in Dance for Screen at London Contemporary Dance School followed by an MA in the same subject.
I am now self-employed, combining my passion for teaching alongside my love for dance film-making, so my day-to-day life varies massively. My job involves working with a number of major dance companies to create their promotional and educational films as well as documentaries, so I spend a lot of time planning a shoot, editing and meeting with choreographers or company directors. I need to be very patient and creative and have a real love for what I do. I also teach dance three days a week so I am a very busy person but extremely lucky to have a job that I love.
If you wanted to do a similar job you need to be very committed, I spend 90% of my week working, so you must believe in, and be dedicated to, your work. I try to network where I can and I have built a good reputation by doing an excellent job at all times. It has taken, and still takes, a lot of hard work but it is worth it. Try to get some hands-on experience to develop your ideas; I did lots of work for free when I was learning. If you put in the hard work it’s definitely possible.
Originally published in 2009.
Bill Deverson - Lighting Designer and Production Manager
My love of theatre and all things theatrical started early in life, dancing ballet, tap and modern from age five. At college, I worked with a truly inspiring drama teacher and subsequently did a tour of America with a modern piece of theatre. It was then I decided that I wanted to direct contemporary plays using all theatrical and multi-media possibilities. I also wanted a formal qualification and Laban was the only place where it was possible to obtain a degree in this area and get my dancing back up to scratch! At Laban I majored in Lighting Design, Sound and Video because I thought it would be useful to know about the backstage side of theatre if I was to be a competent director.
After my degree I stayed on, became a lecturer and set up the drama course at Laban, which led to my teaching movement for actors at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and LADA. I was also teaching lighting at Laban, lighting many of the student shows as well as visiting companies.
During this period Emilyn Claid asked me to light and tour for Extemporary Dance. I became their lighting designer and production manager and my life became a whirl of touring, working with many dance companies, opera companies, bands, fashion shows, drama shows, mime, circus and a whole host of other things!!! I also diversified, becoming responsible for all the sound and lighting for shows at Broadgate arena and as Production Manager for many festivals at the South Bank Centre. During this time I went to some fantastic countries and met some amazing people.
Hard work, long and unsocial hours, sheer determination and a complete love for what I do, has built me this career. The ability to translate aesthetic visions into practical nuts and bolts realisations led me from my initial path but set me off on another course where the benefits, challenges and the range of people and art forms that I have experienced far outweigh the negative sides. The day I stop caring about what I do, is the day I will stop…
Originally published in 2009.
Elsa Bradley - Independent Dance Scientist, Researcher and Lecturer
I started dancing at 7, doing ballet, modern and tap and then studied dance at GCSE and A Level. I was exposed to some wonderful opportunities and became aware of the variety of work options that dance has to offer. It was a really inspiring time! I did a BA (Hons) in Dance in Society at the University of Surrey and was lucky enough to get a year-long work placement with The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet Education Departments, working alongside leading dancers and educators to deliver workshops. Upon graduating I wanted to brush up on my technical dance skills so did a one year programme at London Contemporary Dance School. The combination of academic study with intensive physical dance training really prepared me for the workplace as I had a wide variety of skills to draw upon.
I have combined a performance and teaching career for the last 15 years. Combining my skills in a portfolio career informs each area of my work, allowing me to stay connected to the artform and developing my experiences as an artist.
I have worked as a freelance artist for many organisations and encounter a wide range of people, which is what I really enjoy about my job. In 2002 I was appointed as Senior Dance Artist at Norfolk Dance. The financial security of a paid job was very welcome and it allowed me the time and space to hone my practice, instead of running from job to job trying to make enough money to live! My exploration of the working body became a key focus in my artistic journey; I wanted to know more, so did an MSc in Dance Science at Laban. This has allowed me to change direction with my career and opened many doors to new opportunities. I now lecture in higher education, work with professional dancers to develop their fitness, present my research at conferences and teach dance health at the DanceEast Academy (a Centre for Advanced Training).
I would advise young people considering a career in dance to grab every opportunity to build their skills and experience. Follow your dream, have confidence in what you can do and enjoy the journey.
Originally published in 2009.
Kate Scanlan - Project Manager for Breakin’ Convention
I have always danced, but I was at 6th form when I seriously thought I could do it; I had a really inspiring teacher that helped me believe I could. I did a Dance in Society Degree at Surrey University, including a year in industry working for Motionhouse and Green Candle. That really changed my future in dance because I actually saw how companies exist, how they make work, fund it, tour it and engage with their communities.
After graduating I was offered a placement in the education department at Sadler’s Wells. This was 1998 and the brand new theatre was about to open. I was involved in all the education and outreach set up for the re-opening. At this time I was also dancing in a small company and teaching freelance.
Since 1998 my jobs have included dance education posts at Sadler’s Wells and The Cholmondeleys, freelance dancer, animateur and consultant and Director of Education at Rambert. In 2007 I was awarded the DCMS Dance Fellowship on the Clore Leadership Programme and set up my own business, Dance360.
Since 2004 I have been Project Manager on Breakin’ Convention, the International Festival of Hip Hop dance theatre based at Sadler’s Wells. My job is probably the best in the world and when I left Sadler’s Wells in 2004, I kept this role, doing it as a freelancer in my spare time. I made a lot of sacrifices in terms of how hard I had to work to stay involved with it, but it was something I never questioned. To be part of the total transformation of Sadler’s Wells each year is such a buzz. I travel the country and indeed the world to programme the festival and I am constantly learning new things. I can honestly say I go to work happy every day!
If you are interested in producing events, or working with companies or venues here’s my advice: see as much dance as possible, the more you see the more you understand what you like, volunteer for an organisation and never underestimate the importance of volunteering – not only does it give you contacts and experience but it could also lead to a job and finally create opportunities for yourself. If there is something you would like to do why not try to? There are lots of opportunities out there to help you develop your skills.
Originally published in 2009.
Declan Whitaker, YDE Young Creative 2011
"The Young Creatives programme has been an invaluable experience. It has provided me with a platform on which I have been able to fully realise my artistic identity as a young and aspiring choreographer. I feel privileged that Youth Dance England presented me with the chance to create and perform in inspirational venues and the experiences that I have had here have taught me a lot about myself as a person and artist. I was given the opportunity to work with, and learn from truly inspiring dance professionals and it has fuelled my passion further to want to create more work and be recognised for this.
The residential at White Lodge was incredible, I felt like I learnt so much from both the staff and my peers and that I ended the week having pushed my creative boundaries. I was given the tools to progress further as a choreographer to challenge myself physically and mentally and question the integrity and intention behind the things I create so they convey something deeper that are relevant to society today. I found it fascinating to watch how other people create and work. I think that often, the process and learning curve involved with choreography is more satisfying than the end product and from engaging with other people, I learnt something new about how I could next challenge myself to make something out of my comfort zone.
The residential was also an excellent opportunity to gain skills that are important in dance but not necessarily to do with movement: networking, confidence, communication, people, team and leadership skills etc. The variety of dance and social backgrounds meant that there was so much information shared and it was exciting to learn from people my age with similar interests and observe how they approached the tasks we were given in a different way to myself. The workshops challenged us to use all these skills and at the end of the week I felt like I had not only progressed in this respect but made some good friends in the process.
The performance was incredible. Performing at the Royal Opera House seemed like a dream come true and it felt so good to finally perform my piece after all the hard work I had put into it. It was excellent to experience the backstage workings of what goes into a production like that and made me appreciate the many other jobs that are involved in dance besides choreography and performing, and how key they are in allowing choreographers to present work. Being able to say I have performed at the Royal Opera House is amazing and is an experience I will value forever. The buzz of performing something that I have worked so hard on is second to nothing and I am so thankful to YDE for providing me with the chance to do this. Opportunities like this are few and far between and I would recommend the programme to anybody who has an interest in dance. I have learnt so much as a person and a dancer and hope that many more people will be able to have the same exceptional experience that I did."
Images: Brian Slater
Jamie Roberts, professional dancer
Professional dancer Jamie Roberts has been involved with Hampshire Dance for a number of years. Back in 2005, as a member of Hampshire Youth Dance Company (HYDC), he was involved in one of the first large scale Youth Dance England (YDE) events at the Royal Festival Hall, London. “What Happened Next” gave 60 young dancers the opportunity to work on a performance directed by V-tol founder, Mark Murphy. Hampshire Youth Dance Company was one of only five youth companies to make up the ensemble.
“Being in HYDC, and doing the project with Mark Murphy, gave me my first true experience of the professional dance world. Working with a choreographer and being in London gave me the drive and pushed the ambition to go to dance school.”
Following HYDC Jamie was successful in gaining a place at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, where he attained a BA (Hons) in Dance Theatre. Since then, Jamie has founded his own dance company, jAM jAR Dance Theatre.
“jAM jAR at present is applying for their first Grants for the Arts to take our work in to schools in the Portsmouth area and deliver workshops. We are founding members of the Portsmouth Dance Initiative who are facilitating the first dance festival in Portsmouth 'imPact'. We are associate artists of the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. jAM jAR also leads The Spring Art Centre’s youth dance company, New Motion Youth Dance”
Applying his skills to teaching and feeding back into the developmental schemes that he benefited from himself, Jamie is busy with many other projects involving young people.
“I teach at Southdowns College in Waterlooville and NESCOT in Ewell. As well as being rehearsal director for The Point Youth Dance Company and choreographer for the community dance groups at Wildern School’s D.@rt centre.“
This year, Hampshire Dance delivered a series of roaming taster days for young people in the south east to promote the CAT scheme at The Place. We asked Jamie to join the artistic team delivering the sessions alongside four other experienced dance artists from the region.
The Place's Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) is part of a national intensive dance programme for 10-18 year olds who display exceptional potential and passion for dance.
“My work with youth dance companies in the south east region led me to be asked to work on the regional CAT promotion project offering taster days to young dancers. It was great to see the young dance talent in the Hampshire area and to work with the staff at CAT at The Place to deliver quality dance training in the county.”
Hampshire Dance has recently asked Jamie to join the audition panel for Hampshire Youth Dance Company.
“I am excited about being on the panel as not only do I get to see fresh young talent but I also get to keep supporting and remaining part of HYDC.“
Time of Your Life Dance Academy
Spring 2010 marked the launch of a brand new, year long programme supported by Youth Dance England and the hit West End musical Dirty Dancing. This exciting partnership was set up by Magic 105.4's Cash for Kids and is currently being delivered by London Youth Dance, London Youth and JumpStartMove, entitled the 'Time of Your Life Dance Academy'.
The project aims to introduce young people across the capital to the great health benefits of dance as well as the thrilling experience of live theatre and to provide them with vital skills to equip them in their ongoing lives.
Nine youth clubs across London are currently involved and alongside their weekly dance sessions, participants have been invited take part in other activities including attending a live performance of Dirty Dancing, performing at the London Youth Dance Day in July and attending Matthew Bourne’s production of Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells this December.
At the Salmon Centre in Southwark, a group of keen young dancers familiar with urban hip hop dance styles have been experiencing contemporary dance for the first time and have ‘responded really well, they are up for trying new things and being creative', reports staff member Chantal Bardouille. Chantal feels that the classes have been a positive addition to the programme as 'they work on body awareness, flexibility and contact work, really focusing on the children's creative potential.’Dance artist Emma says that that the participants are 'full of ideas, which is really nice to see. Sometimes young people can be a bit scared or intimidated by having to think creatively, but this group are brilliant'. Megami, aged eight, said 'I really like the classes because I learn a lot and like working with other people'.
At Highbury Vale, near Finsbury Park, a mixed group of four to twelve year olds from the local area come together and take part in the Time of Your Life Dance Academy. Toby, aged six, said ‘I like being able to tell my ideas. Usually it's just the big kids that say lots, but I like sharing what I think too’. Dance artist Dorit explained how encouraging it felt to see both the young and older children working together,'when you ask them what they've learnt after a session they say things like “we've learnt to be more patient” and “we can work well with younger children” and that's really nice to see - it's really positive'.
At Dragon Hall in Holborn the participants are comprised of a mixed group of eight to eleven year olds. The lead youth dance worker described how because the children really enjoyed the sessions last term and had received a really positive reaction when performing at the London Youth Dance Day, they were very keen to start classes up this term as well; she says 'they really love it, it was such a good success last term and they asked to have the sessions again'. She continued that ‘the sessions are invaluable really for the children’s development and team skills. It's such a good project, it really lets their imaginations run wild!'
Westminster House Youth Club serves a diverse and vibrant community of young people living in Nunhead, South East London. Their sessions are focussed on developing the children's social interaction skills. 'They are quite a quiet group', artist Hannah explained, 'and so this term we are really working on communication, trust, and positive contact to encourage all the children to work together and forge good relationships'.
SE1 Utd in Southwark is open to young people aged ten to twenty-one and aims to raise aspiration in young people and to allow them to establish a voice in their local community. Their dance sessions are focussed on improving co-ordination and fitness. Yasmine, aged thirteen, had previously trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, but unfortunately sustained an injury last year and has not been able to dance for twelve months. Having access to dance lessons through the Time of Your Life Dance Academy, now she is on the mend, Yasmine can get back into dancing in a safe, fun and enjoyable way.
The Time of Your Life Dance Academies will culminate in a showcase performance next March as part of the Connect Festival 2011 at Sadler’s Wells. Participants will also be invited to take part in a unique performance project as part of a full length show on the Sadler's Wells main stage in May 2011.