New work for the National Youth Dance Company

This year’s line-up for the National Youth Dance Company, the country’s flagship organisation for young dancers, will see it perform a new creation by the company’s Guest Artistic Director Damien Jalet. The work, entitled Tarantiseismic, receives its world premiere on 19 April at Sadler’s Wells, ahead of a UK national tour throughout June and July. Founded in 2012, NYDC is a young company that creates and performs innovative dance, drawing together some of the best young talent to work with Sadler’s Wells’ internationally renowned Associate Artists.

Tarantiseismic is a new commission that sees Jalet present a unique piece of theatre which addresses themes of melancholia, ritual, control and abandon. Jalet’s choreographic style, combined with the young dancers’ energy and talent, is set to produce an experience that shifts the consciousness of the audience. In his appointment as NYDC Guest Artistic Director, Jalet follows in the footsteps of Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists Michael Keegan-Dolan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan and Jasmin Vardimon, who have each in turn held the position over the past four years.

Jalet is a French and Belgian choreographer and dancer: he has worked as a dancer for companies such as Les Ballets C de la B and Wim Vandekeybus. He has been involved in many collaborations, such as Eastman, Chunky Move, Icelandic Dance Company, Akram Khan and Sasha Waltz. Recent projects include Babel (Words), which won the Olivier Award for Best Dance Production in 2011.

This year’s diverse cohort of 40 young dancers comprises 30 new members, selected through NYDC Experience Workshops held in towns and cities all over the country. The dancers are mentored during three intensive residencies over the year, in order to create, rehearse and develop the new piece. Throughout the dancers’ time with NYDC they are given a unique insight into the dance profession, gaining skills and techniques that open up career possibilities. NYDC therefore has a track record of putting young people on paths to successful dance careers, with over 80% of all former dancers now either in further dance studies, in vocational training or working professionally.

English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer

Now in its eighth year, English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer competition will be held at Sadler’s Wells on 25 May 2017. Selected by peers within the company, six of ENB’s most promising dancers will perform in front of a panel of expert judges, in a bid to receive the 2017 Emerging Dancer Award.

Emerging Dancer is a key part of English National Ballet’s commitment to developing and nurturing talent within the company. Last year’s winner of both the Emerging Dancer Award and the People’s Choice Award, Cesar Corrales, has since been promoted to First Soloist. He has performed many principal roles since, and his performance as Ali in Le Corsaire has been nominated for Outstanding Male Performance at the 2017 Critics Circle National Dance Awards.

The 2017 finalists are:

Isabelle Brouwers

Isabelle joined English National Ballet in 2014. This season, Isabelle has performed as Myrtha in Akram Khan’s Giselle, Mirliton and Lead Flowers in Nutcracker, and as Myrtha in Mary Skeaping’s Giselle. A previous Emerging Dancer finalist in 2014 and 2015, Isabelle won Silver Medal at the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition.

Rina Kanehara

Rina joined English National Ballet after being named Prize Winner at the Prix de Lausanne 2015. In the 2016/2017 season Rina made her debut as Clara in Nutcracker. Rina was a finalist in Emerging Dancer 2016, and has won Silver Medal at Varna 2016 and Gold Medal at the Youth America Grand Prix 2012.

Madison Keesler

Madison joined English National Ballet in 2013, and was previously with Hamburg Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. This season she worked closely with Akram Khan on the creation of Giselle and performed in the title role, as well as performing as Lead Snowflakes and Flowers in Nutcracker, and as Bathilde in Mary Skeaping’s Giselle.

Aitor Arrieta

Aitor joined English National Ballet at the start of the 2016/2017 season. He has since performed as Albrecht in Akram Khan’s Giselle, and as the Nutcracker. He received The Professional Dancers’ Association of Gipuzkoa Discover Award in 2015, the 2015 Dancer Revelation of Gipuzkoa Prize and Gold Medal at the International Dance Contest of Biarritz.

Guilherme Menezes

Guilherme joined the company from English National Ballet School in 2011. This season he has performed as the Nutcracker and Lead Flowers in Nutcracker, and in Akram Khan’s Giselle. He was a finalist at Prix de Lausanne 2010 and was a finalist in Emerging Dancer 2013.

Emilio Pavan

Previously a member of Queensland Ballet, Emilio joined the company in 2015. He has performed in Akram Khan’s Giselle and made his debut as Nephew in Nutcracker this season.

Taking a break

Taking an enforced break from dancing can seem like a world away. Despite the fact they are the words no dancer ever wants to hear, there can be a positive side from what could be the worst thing to happen to a dancer: getting injured. Enforced rest can be a chance to stop and take stock whilst your body and mind recuperates. To get the most from dance both the body and mind needs some down-time, so the body’s muscles and nervous system can repair, strengthen and process everything that has been worked on.

Enforced rest and recovery from an injury can be hard to accept at first. To begin with, injured dancers must seek advice from someone who is highly professional in the field of rehabilitation to start the recovery process. As a result there is a large capacity for the dancer to truly understand their dance, the body and correct alignment and technique, and this can be analysed in order to make improvements for the future. Viewing technique objectively from the inside can also help prevent injuries from both occurring and recurring.

The process of healing is extremely individual. Different methods help different dancers, and an injury does not mean a dancer has to stop exercising completely. Whilst it can be a slow and frustrating process trying to undo bad habits and retrain the body, time off from injury is of benefit to this dance development. In most cases dancers will benefit from continuing to move the body, with effective methods of conditioning for a dancer such as Pilates. In terms of rehabilitation, the injury will mean a structured and personalised plan in order to heal in the most effective way.

Injuries can teach dancers how to listen to the body, and they often recover stronger: physically and mentally. It is important to stay positive. Learn as much as you can about your injury, and focus on understanding as much as you can about strengthening the area – it is part of life for every dancer but can be dealt with in a positive way.


Preparing for the stage

Preparation and organisation are vital for any dancer, particularly when performing. Throughout the rehearsal and performance period it is therefore important to remain in shape, stay injury free and dance your best in every role. The key to success is formulating a foolproof routine that is unique to you and suits your work. If you use your time effectively by rehearsing and performing well, the best part is that you will be looked upon as a reliable and proficient dancer, and you will have survived the season!

Creating a rehearsal routine for the weeks in advance of your performances means you can use the time you are not dancing effectively. Floor barre or ballet conditioning exercises can help pass the time when you are waiting during long days of rehearsals, which will help to strengthen and maintain your technique. Dancing the same pieces during rehearsals can sometimes mean technique is neglected and muscles become dormant if they are not used. Revisiting your conditioning routines can therefore help prevent injuries, usually by overuse.

Other ways to avoid injury during a rehearsal period include keeping warmed up in time for your next rehearsal, wearing warm-up clothes when not in the studio to avoid getting cold air on your muscles and not sitting waiting in big stretches, then going straight back to rehearse. Staying hydrated and energised in this time is also vital, so you can perform at your very best. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough to get you through a long rehearsal and performance day, in addition to your theatre kit that you will need to take along.

Although you will not be in a familiar space at the theatre, create your own routine so you ensure everything is done that needs to be. Have all the times you need written down, and find time to review your roles on the side. It’s nearly time to head onstage!

Laura Warner – awe-inspiring arts at Jacob’s Pillow

Laura is originally from London. After graduating from Middlesex University with a First Class BA(Hons) Degree in Dance Studies, she has worked, taught and danced in and around the city. Laura joined the historic Jacob’s Pillow Dance in Massachusetts USA as a 2015 Festival Intern. Her passion for all forms of dance education saw her return in 2016, to participate in a cultural exchange programme, taking on a role in the Education Department to help coordinate The School’s Dance and Intern Programs.


Have you always wanted to be involved in dance?

I was quite a latecomer to dance; I’d always danced and loved it, but never thought of it as a career path. It wasn’t until I started looking at universities when I was 17 that I realised all I cared about was how good the dance programme was! After that I knew I had to pursue it as a career and started thinking about it seriously.


Where did you train and what was it like?

I went to Middlesex University and loved it; it ticked all the boxes for me. The course consisted of strong training in a range of techniques, choreography and performance, as well as a high level of academic expectation, involving anatomy, nutrition, history, critical writing and more. The campus was small so it wasn’t a stereotypical university experience, but it was great as I was surrounded by likeminded people and inspiring tutors.


What is a day in your life like?

Jacob’s Pillow is in a very beautiful and mountainous location in western Massachusetts so my day always starts with a short but lovely walk to the office! I am in the education department, so currently I spend a lot of time emailing and speaking with people about the 2017 Audition tour. Auditions for The School happen in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, among other national and international sites, so there are lots of studios to book, artists to contact and materials to send for information on the four different 2017 programmes: Ballet, Tap, Contemporary and Musical Theatre Dance. I’m also involved in coordinating the Intern Programme and help with the recruitment for this, and for The School – speaking with prospective applicants and processing applications. When the Festival is taking place my day is interspersed with orientations, observations in the studio, organising seminars and showings, seeing dance works in the three performance spaces on campus and attending talks and dance classes.


What is your favourite part of your job?

Hearing dancers, patrons or interns talk about the amazing summers they’ve had at The Pillow and feeling in awe of the place you work in. People visit from all over the world and tell you stories about when they were here as a student in the 1950s, or how they remember Ted Shawn himself – it’s very inspiring. Jacob’s Pillow is celebrating its 85th anniversary season this year and I love that I get to play a tiny part in its history through our work. It really is the nucleus for everything ‘dance’ so it’s an exciting environment to be in and learn from.


What is your proudest moment?

Graduating was a great feeling; to all be able to celebrate our degrees together was a perfect way to culminate that time. It goes without saying that successfully applying for the internship at Jacob’s Pillow in 2015, then moving here to the US last year, was also wonderful as it’s something I’d wanted to do for so long.


What’s the best thing about the performing arts?

That it has such potential beyond great entertainment. Dance helps with personal expression, improves cardiovascular health as well as all other areas of fitness such as balance, strength, agility. It advances cognitive function, embraces differences in cultures, develops social skills, relieves stress, it can tackle social or political issues… the list goes on! When you look at it like that it’s an amazing art form for one that’s very often undermined.


And the worst?

Feeling like you sometimes have to prove its worth. Yes, it is a real career choice, yes, people can make a living from it!


What would be your advice for someone aspiring to work in the performing arts?

Be passionate about it – it’s a common saying but very true. If you are passionate about the work, your career path will always be successful and enjoyable in your eyes. Additionally, put yourself out there for every opportunity you’re interested in, or comes your way, you never know where it can lead.


What’s next for you?

Good question! I don’t really have a long term plan, but for now I am enjoying where I am and am excited for whatever opportunities may come my way in the future. Without a doubt being involved in the arts is always going to part of my life.

Dancing through life

Dancing is often considered as solely suited to young people, or something you need to start learning as early as possible in life. However, for many people who come to dance later in life they find that you can actually start dancing at any age, and sometimes it is of more benefit to the individual to start later in life.

Adult dance is often considered a more genuine activity than a dance class for younger faces – it is guaranteed that taking part in an adult dance class is because you really want to be there, not because your parents have decided it would be something nice to do (and you do incidentally enjoy it!) Adult life is full to the brim of other things that require attention, so making time to attend a dance class says a lot about the motivation to be there.

Learning to dance without prior experience is a huge achievement. As an adult, you will have a better understanding of your body and a heightened awareness also of what it can do and what makes you feel good. Life experience and time means that adults have a more objective sight of the world than younger students, meaning dance has all the more significance for them. It’s never too late to start learning to dance. Many classes have a different focus, whether it’s performing, preparing for exams or just offering classes for fun and fitness.

Dancing has a huge list of benefits for people of all ages: for adults specially, the genuine enjoyment of dance transcends all other benefits, providing a creative outlet for people that have lots of other things to think about. It is sociable, fun, challenging, and also encourages good posture, coordination, balance and agility. This is without its neurological benefits too!

Resolution 2017 – Stephen Quildan

As the UK’s biggest festival for new dance, Resolution 2017 at The Place, London, is back for emerging artists and for its 28th year. 26 triple bills and 78 companies are challenging perceptions of dance through bold ideas and movement.

This year other arts organisations, such as Breakin’ Convention, Jacksons Lane, Rambert and a Grad-Lab Dance development project supported by The Point, Eastleigh are on board. They are co-presenting companies and are helping to bring the best new hip-hop, contemporary and circus choreography to The Place.

Part of this year’s Resolution questions Grime as music for the twenty-first century. In an intriguing dance piece named ‘Not Hard’ by Stephen Quildan, it will take a look at Grime music and London’s youth culture, the catalyst for the now global music phenomenon. This will be performed as part of the one-nightly triple bills that make up Resolution until 25 February, on 28 January.

Looking at the vibrancy and creativity of London in the early 2000s, as accessible digital technologies boomed, Quildan’s piece reimagines how dance plays a role in that context. The piece is made of up of three world-class dancers from Rambert, who travel through barriers of gender, race and identity that come with growing up; exciting, ambitious and relevant work for Londoners. ‘Not Hard’ will be performed alongside work by Bridget Lappin (‘Who’s Afraid of a Pussy Cat’) and Mathieu Geffré (‘What Songs May Do’).

Quildan’s debut at the ever-popular Resolution festival (in which choreographers such at Wayne McGregor and Luca Silvestrini had early days) sets itself to stand out from the rest. Stephen Quildan is a London-born dancer and choreographer who currently dances for Rambert. An alumnus of the music-associated BRIT School he has now choreographed internationally for Issey Miyake, U2 and Natalia Lesz.

Image by Stephen Wright


Careers in dance – advice?


Receiving the right careers advice for the creative industries can be somewhat challenging. Artistic careers do not always have set routes in like other sectors do, and even advanced training does not always mean a career is guaranteed by the end of it. Often it is the combination of experience, passion, luck and talent which means someone will become a performer; formal qualifications are often outweighed entirely.

Clichés such as such as ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ can ring so true. The arts require networking and making contacts in order to make a difference, often between succeeding or not. There is some luck involved regardless, and being in the right place at the right time – whilst another frustrating cliché – is something which is paramount. It can therefore be difficult to decide the best route to take, in early training, auditions and then further training.

Whilst getting into the arts is not straightforward it is ultimately fulfilling. Many see this as an exciting situation to be in, however there is a very real risk of young people being discouraged from following their chosen path in the arts due to the lack of specific careers advice. Unless there is someone with genuine experience of the arts who is able to offer honest and objective advice, the usual careers advice does not complement that of the arts. At some schools and colleges, careers advice is too focused on traditional careers and trades.

It is therefore important, when aiming for a creative career, to be proactive in contacting and networking with people in the industry specific to your goals, whether it’s for work experience or first-hand advice. It is also important to remember that everyone had to start somewhere, and lots of people will try to help.

Fringe theatre

Open access Fringe festivals can be a great first step into producing work in the arts sector, and then producing a show. Whilst being part of a Fringe festival does not guarantee success in the arts world, it can help you on the way to success. Whether you are a professional or an amateur, you need to know why you are taking part in a Fringe show. For amateurs it can be a good way to gain exposure for your work, however for a professional it may be more about securing funding, building your reputation, and connecting with other artists, promoters and booking agents.

Having good organisation skills is a prerequisite for anything in the arts and dance. Registrations for most Fringe Festivals close months before the festival itself, so ensure you have dates firmly in your diary, and that you are ready for each stage of the process. Drafting a broad timeline gives you sufficient time to finalise details such as images and marketing copy, venue, dates and times, and pricing information. Include milestones such as when you need to complete your budget and marketing plan, when you start rehearsals, when you confirm more intricate details and the different roles of the team behind you.

By getting lots of people involved you are ensuring that you have lots of pairs of hands to make your part of the Fringe a success. When it comes to promoting your work, you can also make the most of the support offered by the Fringe festival itself. Most Fringe festivals offer written guides on how to make your show a success, which cover finding a venue, promoting the show, putting together a budget and also covers legal issues. Promotional opportunities are also plenty, such as pop-up performances which can help pique interest in what you are doing in the area.

Being part of a Fringe festival is hard work, but a great opportunity for choreographers and small dance companies to present work. They can be exhausting, so give yourself a good head start with early and thorough planning, including buffers and getting plenty of support.

Youth Music Theatre UK auditions

Youth Music Theatre UK is busy auditioning talented young people aged 11-21 in 24 cities across the UK and Ireland. Having begun on 21 January, auditions will take place until 19 February, providing young people with the chance to join Youth Music Theatre UK and further their skills as young performers. Taking part in the organisation’s work can do much for young people’s skill set, performance and confidence. Youth Music Theatre UK alumni include Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Charlotte Ritchie, demonstrating how much it can provide.

Working alongside Youth Music Theatre UK could propel a young person far along their desired career path, if they have aims to enter the professional musical theatre industry. Youth Music Theatre UK is viewed by many as an invaluable resource for young people to take part in something engaging and rewarding, hugely beneficial for a young person, performer, and therefore young performer.

Auditions for the company do not require any previous experience. This year’s auditions until February will see performers receive a three hour group workshop in improvisation, singing and dancing, led by top professionals. Aspiring to achieve just as the professionals have done means the young performers can form their own performance goals and ensure they achieve them.

Once part of the Youth Music Theatre UK company, young performers will be able to participate in an intensive, action-packed residential musical theatre course: as part of this they will work to develop a brand new show. They will have the chance to train with the very best directors, musical directors and choreographers, and develop their skills even further. The ultimate aim is therefore to play a part in one of eight new, full-scale musical shows. Youth Music Theatre UK’s summer season includes the world première of the original 1960’s rock opera A Teenage Opera; the tragic story of Tess of the d’Urbervilles; Gulliver’s Travels; Jabberwocky, and many more.