What advice would you give a young dancer making their way in the world today?
Be patient with yourself but have clear goals (short, mid, long term…). Keep on learning and becoming a better dancer everyday, but don’t obsess with it, have fun too! Dance for fun, go out, experience other things, other people, other mindsets… Surround yourself with people that believe in you but love you for what you are now, and are not trying to live their lives through your success. Try not to listen to unhelpful feedback, but keep digging into your practice and asking others for guidance and support. Try an apprenticeship to get professional experience. Even an unofficial one. It will change the way you work and help you out of the student mentality.
Was there a natural transition into choreographing for you?
I’ve always liked choreographing, and I have done it since my studies, but I only started thinking about it as a profession thanks to my partner, who, when I was transitioning out of being a full time dancer, recognised a spark in my eye every time I was making and asked me why I wasn’t doing it professionally. When my reply was “because it’s very difficult and demands a lot of work” he replied that wasn’t a good enough reason not to do it. I had to agree with him, and here I am!
What is the hardest part of the rehearsal process, as both a dancer and a choreographer?
There are different challenges from being a dancer and a choreographer. From the last one I would say the biggest one is managing a room of people with different sensitivities, priorities, ups and downs, body issues, energy levels… and lead them all towards the common goal and the bigger picture of making a piece. It’s gaining their trust, but also empowering them so they can be inspired and creative. And dealing with time pressure! As a dancer is probably the level of tiredness and the huge amount of self care needed to do such an emotionally and physically demanding job. And in both dealing with your own insecurities and uncertainties.
What projects are you working on at the minute?
I’ve just premiered QUIMERA, my first full evening piece, in Bristol, which is coming to London on the 18&19 October. It combines dance with storytelling and circus, so it has been a huge learning curve for me, working with artists that have different needs, and understanding how the different art forms are communicating.
We here at Greenwich Dance are setting out to create a dance community of people, of all ages, backgrounds and experiences, who value the place of creativity and dance within their lives regardless of whether it’s something they use to pay the mortgage! Do you have a response to that as an approach and is this a value you also share with us?
100%! Dance is one of the oldest art forms, it connects us to ourselves and others in a way that is very profound, very primary. Our society needs more of that and it’s important that people coming from different backgrounds and life experiences are able to reconnect with their bodies, minds and emotions, and dance can be an extraordinary enabler of those connections!