So I’ve done it, and I’ve survived. I just completed my first six weeks of full time training at NSCD. It’s been a fair journey, but I wouldn’t change a single moment of it.
I don’t think life has ever been so busy for me as it has this first half term: I wake up at 6.30, leave the house at 8.00, arrive at school before 8.30, start class at 9 and don’t leave till 5.30, get home around 6, shower, make tea, relax with my house mates and am in bed before 11. And this is my life. But what a life it is. Everything I do here is linked to dance, and it’s everything I imagined it could be.
To begin with, every day felt like that first day at primary school again. I woke up daily feeling that strange mix of nerves and excitement that you get at the beginning of something important. I worried about picking up choreography way too much and sometimes felt a bit suffocated by the amount of new information being thrown at me. I even dreamed in my second week that we would be made to re-audition to prove that we deserved our place on the course, I guess I was just paranoid that it was all too good to be true and I shouldn’t really be here. I’m making it sound tough, it wasn’t that bad, and the challenge was one of the things I really loved about my experience so far. I think in some ways it’s important not to get too comfortable, because then you don’t push yourself as much as you can.
I walk to school alone now in the mornings, because my house mates are never ready on time. I crave those walks, with my headphones in and my ID badge around my neck, reminding myself why I’m here and looking forward to a new day, in a place that I do feel at home at now. I’m surrounded here by people who feel the same about dance as I do, and that creates an instant bond between us, I love to hear other people talk about dancing in the way that I do, and my absolute favourite moments are when we experience dancing together- at the end of technique class when we dance a combination full out, in improv class when we share that experience of moving together in any way we like, in choreography and music where we work together to create new work that is purely ours.
There are some days where I feel like I can’t do this, I’m exhausted and doubting myself. But I think I’m learning to deal with these times, by the end of the day I can have forgotten how shit I was feeling in the morning and be ready for tomorrow, feeling positive and driven. Sometimes I just have to remind myself how far I’ve come in such a short time, by looking at my instagram feed I can see that I took my first proper contemporary class just 35 weeks ago, and here I am 6 weeks into my degree course. That’s actually crazy, I can’t believe how much my life has changed since then.
I’ve learnt so much already, where at the beginning of the course I was nervous of improvisation and choreography, I can already feel myself becoming more comfortable in my classes, and although I think I still have a long way to go, I’ve already come so far, I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough.
I didn’t realise what a cultural city Leeds was either, although it’s been on my doorstep all these years, I haven’t fully appreciated what it has to offer. Since I’ve lived here I’ve been to six contemporary dance performances in the city, and just by watching I’ve learnt so much about what contemporary is and what it can be, what I like and what I don’t and maybe even what I’d like to be a part of in the future. Possibly the most inspiring performances were outside of those six, where we saw third year perform Phoenix rep and Verve perform their first piece that they created together with Anton Lachky. The third years made me realise what kind of dancers NSCD can create and made me think that in two short years I can be where they are, performing at their standard, which just amazed me. And as far as Verve are concerned, I was just in awe- although I live with two of them, I didn’t quite realise what incredible dancers they all were, and as I see them come home exhausted or exhilarated every night- it was awesome to see what they had been up to- I loved it.
I genuinely didn’t think it would be possible to learn so much in such a short space of time, to learn new techniques, new skills, new ways of learning, make such strong friendships with my house mates and class mates alike. I’m so glad to be at home and resting this reading week, recharging ready for next half term, I can’t wait to see what it will bring, and then the next three years- I can’t begin to imagine what’s to come next in my journey.