LEARNING CURVES

Last week I spent the most incredible five days at my new dance college, where I am to begin full time training in September. It’s such a magical place, I really feel like I’ve entered a different world when I walk through those doors: The big airy studios with bright windows, and wall to wall mirrors, the posters of past productions, and of course the theatre, it was amazing to just lie on the stage and stare up at the chandelier and the half moon windows and imagine how many people like me, dreaming of the future and people living my future have done the same at this incredible place.

I was pretty much the youngest in my group, where everyone else was already in full time training, so felt a bit out of my depth to begin with. I think I really needed that challenge at this point though, as I have been the oldest at my dance school all year and maybe begun to take it for granted that I find things easier than other people, so it was good to have people of a much higher standard to push me to do better.

I have done so little contemporary training before, that I really thought I needed to get in a solid week before September so that I know what I’m getting myself into. And I was not disappointed. Technique classes were tough as I had a lack of knowledge compared to my class mates, but I craved the challenge, I would practice and practice at the side of the studio whilst other groups took their turn, and when we repeated exercises it felt so good to get them right, or nearly right, and feel the flow of the movements.

Here are some things I learnt:

Never be comfortable with how you do something, always feel what might become awkward and how you can push the movement even more to make it mean more

Don’t be afraid of the floor, you will end up covered in bruises. Use the floor to your advantage, push against it and fall into it carefully. When I managed this and shifted my way accross the whole stage, it seriously felt like flying.

Trust people. Even if they are strangers, we are all dancers and all want the pieces to work, I learnt to give my whole body weight to another person, even though they were smaller than me, and I was terrified they would drop me, I even dared to fall backwards into open space and roll over in the air, trusting that people would be there to catch me.

New techniques to choreograph dances, using numbers of counts and pauses to create individual solos, which we could seemlessly intertwine to create duets, trios and quartets.

Always ask the question. If you sit back floundering, you will never get it, if you ask the question you will improve your memory, technique, help others to consolidate and get the full attention of your teacher.

To improvise, to be totally unafraid of what people will think of your movements and to just feel the music. We spent about 10 minutes improvising different ways to shake, which sounds stupid, but was in fact exhausting and fun.

To perform contemporary. To soundscape music with no counts, where you have to listen for key changes and tempo changes and drops and watch people on stage as cues rather than continually counting to eight.

And then on Friday my mum, cousin and her boyfriend came to college to watch our sharing of the piece we had spent our afternoons creating. At first I thought they hadn’t got there in time as from my seat I couldn’t see them in the auditorium, but that was because they’d got the best seats at the front of the balcony and had been hanging on to my every move.

They loved it. And that made me so happy and proud of everything I have learnt and achieved in just one week of training. I can’t wait for many many more starting in September.

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