Life in Lockdown: John Darvell Prt 2

Life in Lockdown | 31 August 2020


Phew! Definitely a far more upbeat day it’s been. Yes, another busy round of paperwork, filming, Zoom meetings etc. Is it just me or are you envious of those individuals saying they’ve had time to learn a language, explored cooking new things and been able to clean out their lofts? My experience is so not that. I’m just swamped keeping afloat.

Thursdays are extra special. I’ve seen our dance family of adults online and outdoors, but tonight is my last session of the week with them.

Teaching adults is a real passion of mine. By now you might have realised that my own dance story isn’t your everyday tale. I first started dancing when I was 30 and then professionally trained when I was 38. So, when I’m working with others, in particular adults, I get a real buzz from that joint experience. It feels like I’m able to pass it forward after all those supportive teachers who nurtured me on my own journey.

A collage of images of crowds of people

A lot of this amazing bunch have been with me for years. I’ve seen some go and return after having children; gently encouraged some to perform; and all have blossomed into really creative individuals. They’ve been guests at our wedding drinks, saw me through difficult times like the passing of my parents and even been there when I’ve tried totally new experiences like teaching at MOVE IT.

When all our lives dramatically changed in March, I was terrified that it was all over. But I was thankfully wrong. The majority of them have embraced this new way of learning through pre-recorded and live video sessions. They’ve been the lifeblood of my company and I’m so very thankful for their support. So, over these challenging and troubled months, seeing their faces, being able to laugh and still run a good dance class for them, has been a moment of relief. Time in the day to feel just a little bit normal and that, yes, everything will be ok in the end. I’m a bit over Zoom photos so here is snapshot of just a small part of their journey.


Whoopy-e-doo. A serendipity Friday!

After all a week of filming/editing, Zooms, video meetings and outdoor teaching it’s a bit of a relief to be in the safety of my previous life. That 15 years existence I inhabited as a civil servant being graphic designer, report drafter and admin wizard. Kate Bush (simply has to be Hounds Of Love onwards) is keeping me company as well as the hounds at my feet.

I have a collection of ‘To Do’ lists on the go – post-it notes, notebook, the app on my computer – which I fickle mindedly jump from one to another. I always dreamt of having that pristine paper notebook so beautifully kept with all your deep inner thoughts, but sadly, my handwriting is atrocious.

I hope readers you can empathise when I say that we spend too much time in our own heads and worlds that we often don’t realise what impact our work is really making. Then by some unseen force, you get a golden nugget that just gives an ‘oh, wow, really’ moment!

Take for example my very happy virtual bumping into with Tom Hobden, Artistic Director of UNIT a month ago. I’d kept seeing rave reviews of his online course ‘Dance, Digital and Participation’ keep popping into my Facebook newsfeed. So, I thought I’d give it a punt.

I think he’d be happy for me to say that our approaches to digital and participation have been running in parallel for some time, but our paths hadn’t crossed. He was aware of NOCTURN but sadly me unaware of him. My ‘oh, wow, really’ was that he was using a past piece of mine, ‘Revelations of Miss White’ a dance mystery told only on Facebook, as an example of innovation. Very flattered. It was a real boost to hear someone else’s perception of my creative practice and its importance in this digital era.

Jump to today and I’ve had another laughter-filled deep conversation with Tom. It’s so refreshing speaking with a fellow artist, who’s got that entrepreneurial gusto, and is thinking and challenging us to be positively different. If more like-minded artists like Tom and I gathered together we just might radically come up with a fresh approach, which I’m all for.

Close up of John Darvell shouting

For me the pandemic has demonstrated that reaching out and taking a chance to properly talk can open up some powerful discussions with new people, who just may nudge your career in a new direction, or at the very least say ‘hey, you’re on the right track’.

Read Part Three

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