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10 minutes with Charlene Low

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Can you tell us a bit about your life as a dance artist?

A spaghetti junction of juggling regular education and community classes (with participants with special needs, young children and elderly in care homes) alongside creating work for my own Collective, Sardines Dance, being a mum of two and endless day dreaming of beautiful inclusive wholesome projects that rock the world through dance for everyone. And totally not enough sleep!

You are one of our dance artists who teach our Dance Discoveries programme for primary schools, what does the programme mean to you?

I feel the programme is very important in upskilling primary school teachers in how to deliver dance in a non-scary method that utilises their existing skill set as a primary teacher. It’s also essential that the students get quality dance teaching so that the next generation isn’t given a narrowed view of what dancing is – e.g. just ballet or fortnight dance moves!!! (which causes my eyes to twitch whilst I search for patience).

Dance Discoveries breaks down barriers of how vulnerable dance can make people feel, it builds confidence, empowers, develops ownership and creativity amongst other qualities such as team work and fitness levels for both teachers delivering and for children learning.

You have your own dance company, Sardines Dance Collective, can you tell us a bit more about that and the work that you do?

We are a collective of Dance Artists that specialise in working with participants with various abilities and ages, from young mothers and babies who are looking for a fun and engaging dance class to teenagers with multiple learning disabilities who want to upskill and perform to the elderly at different stages of dementia looking for that connection only dance and music can recapture. We have a youth group (Complete Connections Youth Dance) based in Newham Sixth Form College, East London that meet weekly for regular technique classes, and a team of professional dancers that perform on a project by project basis. We recently finished our summer tour of our piece ‘Don’t Drop The Baby!’ a light hearted dance theatre piece based on the trials of pregnancy and parenthood with GIANT fruit ‘babies’ and are currently in rehearsal for our new production ‘Together’ about the challenges of finding love when you have that little extra to give.

What has your work with the company taught you as a dance artist and do you have any advice for dancers wanting to branch out into this field?

Having 17 years of teaching experience has taught me to read your group/cohort and trust your instincts, keep calm, learn how to trouble shoot – very quickly. But the most important thing for me is to always find at least one moment in each class or rehearsal where it’s absolutely magic for you personally, to remind yourself of why you’re in this, so this will feed and drive you to push boundaries for more of those moments thus creating quality teaching and dancing as an artist. As we know being a freelancer, we all can feel very alone at times.

Favourite song to dance around the kitchen/living room?

Hard one! Too many!!! Currently it’s ‘Jump’ by House of Pain (bring back the ole skool)