Getting The Most Out Of Your Dance Class

As children, parents and carers spend lots of time and money committing to dance lessons, even when they take joy from watching rather than doing. Taking children to dancing lessons requires energy and time, not to mention additional funds for competitions, costumes and extra performances. For a child, it is not until later that they see dance lessons in the same way, as an investment. Only then do they see that time, money and energy go to waste when they do not make the most of their dance lessons.

It is understandable that every dancer experiences a rut in their training, where they may not want to attend classes or feel they are not improving at the rate they should be. Despite this, it is not the dancers that stretch the most, sweat more or practice at home at all hours that necessarily get the most out of their dance classes either. The correct mental attitude is hugely important in dance training, to understand the purpose of dance for yourself and how to experience it in the best possible way.

When dancers become older, their adult freedom equates to a similar responsibility for themselves, be it getting themselves to classes, paying for their own training or beginning to assist with the teaching at the local dance studio. With these aspects comes heightened responsibility, for learning, fuelling and directing your dancing. It goes without saying that dancers must therefore arrive early and prepared for class, being focused and dedicated to the class, taking and applying corrections that are given to the class and spending time on the parts that need the most improvement, even if that means going back to basics.

Making mistakes is a large part of dance training; it will mean you will discover something new about the dancing body, through listening, watching, or error, even if this feels uncomfortable. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and thank your teachers for giving you the tools to better yourself and work hard in each class you take.

Summer University At Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells LogoLaunched in 2010, Sadler’s Wells Summer University supports the development of professional dance artists interested in extending their dance practice. The first edition of the project ran successfully between 2010-2014 and the organisation is now recruiting for the second edition starting in Summer 2015. The Summer University graduates (2010-2014) was a combination of notable dance names, and the second batch looks set to mirror this result.

Summer University offers 15 dance professionals the chance to take part in a four year project, meeting for two weeks each year to share work, hear talks, explore methodologies and philosophies of performance making and extend their own dance practice through self-study. As a free course, it is open to dance makers and other artists involved in the performing arts who are interested in developing their own choreographic practice. Also focused on is the future possibilities of dance as an art form.

The course is open to artists based in the UK, with no more than five years professional experience as a dance maker. Directed by the admired choreographer Jonathan Burrows, in collaboration with Eva Martinez, Artistic Programmer for Sadler’s Wells, the course encompasses guest speakers and experienced professionals from the worlds of dance, theatre, visual arts, philosophy and artistic development in sharing their knowledge.

The second edition of the Summer University will take place between 14-27 September 2015 at Sadler’s Wells, a unique opportunity for dance artists and dance makers to immerse themselves in the art and develop their practice further. Applications for the Sadler’s Wells Summer University are currently open: deadline to apply is 22 May 2015 at noon.

CDET’s Dance Careers Conference

CDETTaking place on 10th May, CDET’s Dance Careers Conference is not an event in the dance calendar to be missed. Hosted at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham, the event offers a unique and informative one-day event providing high-quality, relevant and up-to-date information and guidance about further education, training and career opportunities in the dance and musical theatre industries.

Three bespoke strands will run independently through out the whole day. Students will each receive a ballet, jazz and musical theatre class, and gain an insight into what it is like to audition for a vocational college. They will also have the opportunity to take part in seminars providing them with information on choosing a course and college, as well as the audition process involved. Parents and carers’ seminars will include information on how to choose a vocational school, the different qualifications on offer, as well as auditioning, funding and careers information after training.

Additionally, teachers will be able to engage in technique class, often a rarity for busy teachers with hectic class schedules! Sessions focusing on how to create solos for student auditions will be held, as well as seminars on how to advise students when they are in the process of choosing a professional training school. Numerous industry professionals will also be involved with the busy conference, hosting sessions on building a dance business and how to market dance schools.

As with MOVE IT – the annual dance exhibition at London’s Olympia – a number of CDET Accredited Schools will be present to talk to attendees during the conference. These include Urdang Academy, Performers College, Northern Ballet School, Liverpool Theatre School, Bird College, Laine Theatre Arts, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Cambridge Performing Arts, LIPA, The Centre Performing Arts College, London Studio Centre, Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama, Hammond School and Elmhurst School for Dance.

The Professional Dancer

Professional DancerDo you want to take your dancing to a professional level? As glamorous as it may seem, the life of a performer is a lot of hard work, pain and strict dedication to the goal. If you still wish to pursue a career in dance you must strive for it completely, as it requires a lot of passion and hard graft.

It is important to keep your feet on the ground, metaphorically speaking, and think realistically about your career. If you are the strongest dancer locally this will not make you the strongest amongst others in an audition. Open auditions are perhaps a dancer’s worst nightmare for being noticed, and a closed audition means agents put forward their very best dancers for that job – you may be one of many very similar dancers.

It is important to play up to your strengths and use them to your advantage in any dance environment, be it a class, audition or workshop. It is also important to continue learning and conquering your weaknesses in order to develop as a dancer. It’s easy to get complacent when you are responsible for keeping yourself in shape for auditioning, so keep challenging yourself and trying new things. Despite this, there will be auditions and jobs that you simply won’t get or be out forward for based on non-personal reasons, such as looks, so you must develop a tough skin.

Have a “plan B” too: make sure you have a substantial education behind you in case you must stop dancing for any reason. It is also important to have a clear idea of how you can work when you are in between dance jobs, so develop your skills, and build up professional experience. Don’t forget you also need persistence and a positive attitude: don’t take life too seriously and remember to enjoy the hard work involved in reaching your dream.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dancing When Dance Cannot Come First

Dancing When Dance Cannot Come FirstDespite it being the worst possible scenario for most dancers, sometimes dancing cannot come first in life. Whether this is because of personal, time-restrictive or financial circumstances or even public holidays, sometimes dance must be factored into a busy life, rather than the other way round.

Make sure you use your time efficiently; don’t look back and see an opportunity for stretching time or a run round the garden. Use a calendar or diary which includes all your plans and objectives, and realistically work out when you have chance to take class or even just a ballet barre in your bedroom. Even better is a monthly planner which includes everything, even the plans of other members of your family. This will make it easier to see everyone’s schedules: everyone will be calmer if you know where to be when, and where you can expect to have free time to plan other activities.

Don’t forget to take a break too. Having a distraction from life – other than dance – can be hugely beneficial. Make sure you include some down time for yourself, such as reading, swimming, singing or even walking the dog! Knowing you have a certain time set aside for yourself can make dealing with everything that is going on a lot easier. Moreover, make sure you are realistic about what you can fit in to your schedule.

Remember that you won’t be overwhelmed forever, and that dance is something you love, so it will all be worth it! Don’t let stresses or worries get to you – enjoy the moment (if you can!) and it will make your return to dance even more rewarding.

Notes On Dance

Dance NotepadAs a dance student, you may wonder how you will ever remember every note, correction and suggestion you are given in class. You may even have more than one teacher; even two teachers means double the amount of notes you are given! You may have teachers who work by the same method, however they may teach in very different styles. Whilst this is beneficial to ’round’ you as a dancer, it may be tricky to keep track of everything you have to remember.

You may find it useful to keep note of everything that is said to you in class to make sure your technique and performance is as well rounded as possible. It can be hard to take everything on board, especially if you are given small corrections and subtle changes to your form. You may find you are constantly trying to please your teacher/s, but by writing things down it will help consolidate the information and process it for your body.

You don’t have to write your notes, thoughts and information down in any particular way, it is completely up to you as to how you’d like to format your notes, as long as they are useful in helping you progress as a training dance student. Looking back on your notes will also show you just how far you’ve come! Reflecting on what you have achieved will also serve as motivation for persevering in the future.

Corrections and imagery suggestions to aid your performance may form the bulk of your dance notes, so make sure you take a few minutes at the end of your dance classes to make any essential notes you may need – you may not remember them all until the next day! And if you’re learning something new, write that down too to prompt you when you’re practising outside of class.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First National College For The Creative And Cultural Industries

High HouseProduction ParkThe first National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries is to be established at the High House Production Park in Thurrock, with backing from the government, it has been revealed. The college will open in September 2016 and will provide specialist training for the technical skills needed by the artistic industries.

It will be managed by Creative and Cultural Skills on behalf of industry employers including the Royal Opera House, Live Nation, White Light and the Association of British Theatre Technicians. Coincidentally, High House Production Park is also home to the Royal Opera House’s set and scenery workshop and costume centre. This first for artistic education should be a great asset to the industry, providing opportunities for aspiring learners to gain the skills they need for this type of work.

The college is one of four employer-led national colleges announced by business secretary Vince Cable in December, with other colleges including centres for advanced manufacturing, digital skills and wind energy. It is important to nourish the talent which brings plays, operas and films to life on stage and screen, as it is the driving force behind our world-leading creative sector. By continuing to invest in the next generation of talent, we are prolonging the industry for the future.

The four colleges will receive up to £80 million capital funding that will be matched by employers, and will cater for around 10,000 students by 2020. High House Production Park will become an important centre for young people to develop the technical skills the creative and cultural sector needs, as well as ensuring the creative sector grows for the long-term. By developing these opportunities and having professionals and training facilities in backstage and technical skills in one place is unmatched and will help enormously in equipping people with the right skills for jobs in the creative industries.

Students’ Potential Is Within The Arts

Ballet Students

According to new research from University of Sydney academics, the arts are key to unlocking a child’s potential. While this may be the thought of many arts practitioners, especially of those in the education sector, it has not yet been formalised in findings. The study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, tracked 643 primary and high school students from 15 Australian schools and assessed their academic outcomes and personal well-being over two years.

It was found that students who studied creative and performing arts were more motivated, more likely to complete homework, participate in class and enjoy school more than their peers who didn’t participate in the arts. These creative students also had a greater sense of purpose, self-esteem, life satisfaction and educational aspirations: dancing, singing, acting, playing music and so on all greatly benefit a child’s academic performance and overall creativity.

It is clear that the study provides compelling evidence that the arts should be central to education, rather than left to the outskirts of an apparently well-rounded curriculum. In short, the students who participate in the arts excel across the curriculum, so it is paramount that the arts are included in the education system. The research proves that arts education is not and should not be a bonus, but an essential part of a well-rounded education.

Teaching artistic creativity and encouraging children to participate should be mandatory from the off-set through to university, available to all students regardless of socio-economic background. Already, many Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Singapore are investing in improving their schools’ arts education to develop creativity and innovation. While these students rank highly in tests across the board, the Korean government has seen the need to increase their capacity in arts education too.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

63% Say Dance Degrees Are “Valuable”

Dance DegreeA recent survey has revealed that 63% of UK residents consider a degree in Dance and the Performing Arts to be equally as valuable as any other theoretical subject, with a further 56% of parents stating they would take pride in their children pursuing a career in The Arts.

As university fees rose dramatically from an average of £3,225 per year to £8,400, with some universities charging the maximum of £9,000 per annum, along with the recent news that the government loses 45p for every £1 loaned to students, the actual value of higher education has been pulled into the general public’s spotlight.

For many, the opinion may be that degrees should be studied in order to secure the best possible career following graduation, which, for some, may lower the opinion of the value of performing arts and dance, along with languages and other studies of the arts.

However, a recent survey conducted by One Poll on the behalf of Dance Direct, has shown that this opinion is not overwhelmingly negative. Along with the result that 63% of the British public believe that a degree in dance is as commercially valuable as any other theoretical degree, it has also shown that more than a quarter of the 1,000 participants polled believe that pursuing a career in the subject is “sensible”.

Hobby Versus Career

While the results might not show that the British public see a degree in dance as a guaranteed investment for a career path, it is vital that the study of a degree of any kind is not seen purely as an investment for employment.
Underemployment is a significant issue for many graduates, as a study conducted in November 2013 found that almost half of graduates were working non-degree related jobs. While the figures may prove to be depressing for many, they should not necessarily be considered a death toll for those looking to study dance at a high educational level, as the proof shows that the value of the vast majority of degrees has been brought into focus.
In a response to the survey, Paul Franklin, Head of Marketing at Dance Direct, stated: “For the dance industry to continue, we need budding performers not to lose sight of the extremely rewarding career path that dance can bring”.

“Rising university fees are unfortunately a barrier many young people are facing at the moment, and it’s understandable for parents to think that a job in a more theoretical discipline would stand their child in better stead for the future.”

He added: “However, this is not the route many young people want to go down. If their talent lie in dance, they should be actively supported in following the career path that they want to follow.”

Passion in the Arts

A career in dance must be realistically viewed as difficult, with strict competition between those hoping to work in the industry. However, as studies show, there is competition in every role, no matter what the industry is.
Ultimately, passion should be considered as the main indicator of the value of a degree in the performing arts. As a recent study published in The Telegraph shows, 19 out of 20 graduates have changed their career before turning 24, with “creative skills” cited as one of the most valuable assets a potential employee can have.

The noted value of creativity and passion for any role is universally acclaimed, as those students who have perhaps conducted a career which they do not ultimately care for, do not have the motivation to continue in the career.

As an industry, performing arts has always been considered somewhat cut-throat, but through the commitment shown by studying a degree, along with talent and passion, will undoubtedly give young dancers the boost that they deserve into a career.

Les Ballets C de la B

Les Ballets C de la BFounded for a dare in 1984, les ballets C de la B is mix of surrealism, slapstick and semiotics within the sphere of dance. It’s ethos has consequently made it one of the world’s most influential dance theatre companies. Since then it has become a company that enjoys great success at home (Belgium) and abroad. Over the years it has developed into an artistic platform for a variety of choreographers and the company still keeps to its principle of enabling artists from various disciplines and backgrounds to take part in this dynamic creative process.

Les ballets C de la B is not easy to classify however it is possible to pin-point a house style (popular, anarchic, eclectic, committed), and its motto is ‘this dance is for the world and the world is for everyone’. As a result, Danceworks in London is presenting a 2-day workshop with the company in September, a great opportunity for aspiring dancers.

This workshop will be taught by dancer Bérengère Bodin who was born in 1980 in Fonteenay-le-comte, France. She studied at the CNDC in Anglers and then joined leading performance companies such as Raimund Hoghe, Joëlle Bouvier, Carolyn Carlson and Euan Burnet Smith, Kubilai Khan Investigation, JoJi Inc Cy, Isabella Soupart and Robyn Orlin, before joining les ballets C de la B.

Bérengère will encourage the dancers participating to feel and even redefine the emotions of life. This will be an opportunity to enter a world of not-knowing and she will work with individuals to examine their meaning and relationship to emotion, and this will be developed throughout the workshop. There will be opportunities to improvise, share and perform and the workshop is for those who wish to move to another deeper level in their dance and emotional expression

Participants must be 18 years of age or over.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced