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National Youth Dance Company

Archive for December, 2016

Company Blog: Jasmine

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

Three words to reflect my honest emotions on the morning of beginning my 2nd year with The National Youth Dance Company. The thought of 30 new faces with new experiences, dance styles and personalities seemed overwhelming and I didn’t quite know how to feel. Being a returning dancer this year, there was a feeling of familiarity of what the year was going to bring, but at the same time, complete mystery and excitement.

Meeting the new company was, I admit, incredibly nerve racking, but when we all gathered in the Rosebery Room at Sadler’s Wells that morning where hugs were exchanged, experiences were shared and excitement thrived, I knew there was nothing to be afraid of. All of us immediately had this indescribable connection between us. Soon enough, I felt as if I had known these people all my life.

Alike last year, this residency was at Tring Park School of Performing Arts. When we arrived, we went straight to the park studios into company class. We were greeted by the artists Damien Jalet and James O’Hara  who asked us all to sit in a large circle. As person by person filtered in, I just sat and looked around the circle. This is it. This is the National Youth Dance Company 2016-17. I couldn’t stop smiling!

National Youth Dance Company

The week itself was incredibly intense. By day two we had learnt tonnes of material. Break and lunchtimes were often spent writing frantically in our dancer notebooks, praying something would stay in our heads the next day. The way Damien worked with us was unlike any choreographer I’ve worked with before. He had an impeccable, precise eye for detail and pushed us to limits we didn’t even know we could reach. He made us pay attention to clarity, quality and finding a sense of abandonment in our movement, finding a vulnerability to make our movements honest, true and effortless. He let us play with gravity and how it can manipulate the way we all move. Being a musician, I particularly enjoyed the high levels of musicality Damien and James brought to the week. We worked a lot with rhythms, working off a score Damien had created and embodying them into our movement. Whether it was clapping and breathing to these tricky cross rhythms, falling onto the floor, or twisting our bodies in diverse trios, I felt completely casted away, hypnotised by the freedom and consequential movements which followed the next. I remember dancing a phrase James taught us and feeling that I wasn’t controlling my body and something exterior was letting my movements speak. It was beautiful.

Being at NYDC reminds you why you dance. Why you get home from school and rush straight to ballet class, or why you stumble half-alive, half-crippled into your front door after a contemporary class and why you love what you do.

This year’s company have truly become my new family. You grow so close to so many people in such a short space of time and the thought of not seeing them until February is almost unbearable.

NYDC became home once again. A home. My home. And I believe it’s true when I say:

‘Home is where the heart is.’

Company Blog: Alexander

Friday, December 16th, 2016

You start the week feeling nervous, worried and excited, all wrapped up into one. From the moment you step into the studio, the hard work begins. Dancing from 9am-6pm every day. Doing something you love is one of the best feelings you can have. Though apart from that joy and love you still feel worried about being away from home, and nervous that you will be the only one who is worried, but the atmosphere you arrive in welcomes you to everything and makes you feel at home.

…By the fifth day you are tired, ache and all in all feeling shattered. It really tests your commitment to dance and how much you are willing to give. Because the professionalism you have to carry out if one of the hardest things to do, you have to remember you were picked for a reason, and that was because the Guest Artistic Director saw your passion and qualities and knew you were capable. So you keep striving to succeed.

National Youth Dance Company

NYDC in Residence in Hull

Friday, December 16th, 2016

NYDC in Residence in Hull

From 11th-19th February 2017, NYDC will be on residency in Hull, celebrating the City of Culture.

 

The company will be working with Guest Artistic Director 2016-17, Damien Jalet, creating their new work Tarantiseismic.

Over the course of the week we will be opening our doors to local young people, teachers and youth leaders, inviting them to open rehearsals and workshops and giving a greater insight into what NYDC is all about.

This includes:

Friday 17th Feb: Open Rehearsal and Artists Discussion for teachers and youth practitioners.

Saturday 18th Feb: Open rehearsal and workshop for young dancers aged 14-18 (or up to the age of 25 if deaf or disabled.)

Venue: Hymers College, Hull

Cost: Free

We will be announcing more plans and activity in the New Year.

Company Blog: Beth

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

National Youth Dance Company

As I arrived at Sadler’s Wells for my first residency, I felt incredibly nervous. Just being in the building felt very overwhelming, I was very worried about feeling awkward and meeting 39 completely new people and whether they would like me! My fears quickly disappeared as I met the dancers and NYDC staff, everyone was so so welcoming and warm, the energy in the room was so exciting and I knew this experience was going to be special.

As soon as we arrived at Tring, we were straight to the studio which was beautiful, surrounded by countryside, such an open, bright space to spend the week. Both Damien and James had this air of excitement and anticipation about them and I was bursting with excitement and very starstruck to see them move and hear their ideas. We started with a class, which set the tone for the week. I had never seen a human move so quick on the floor, Damien was literally like a helicopter whipping about his space and James’ movement quality was so effortless, I couldn’t help but wholeheartedly smile. All I could think was, I need to learn as much as possible from this experience, I immediately realised how utterly lucky I was to have the opportunity to learn from these two phenomenal artists.

Over the next few days, I found it really moving how everyone just seemed to click. A bond between us all was beginning to form as we would learn from different company members each day. Damien would pick out different dancers for us to observe and these moments were truly beautiful as the support and mutual willingness to find what Damien and James were looking for became really apparent. Even though we felt exhausted or sore, we felt the need and desire to keep striving for more and find things in ourselves we didn’t know were there.

A particular highlight, one of so many, was our first improvisation as a company where the buzz as a group was insane. Each of us were feeding off of one another, and experiencing so much joy from dancing together, sharing our passion and finding a real rhythm as a group.

I was just in awe of everything from how individual everybody was to how fab the meals were, to the toolbox sessions. One of my favourites being our last session with poet Yemisi Blake which solidified for me how close everybody had gotten within such a small space of time and how I now had 39 new, lovely friends that I still have so much to experience and learn with them in the coming residencies. On leaving London on the Sunday, I felt as though I had so much information, inspiration and precious memories to take with me and treasure for the next residency in February. I had this real warm, fuzzy feeling on the train home and I realised how genuinely happy I was when reflecting on everything that had happened that week, it was simply magical!

Company Blog: Matilda

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

National Youth Dance Company

On Saturday, 22nd October, the day of the first National Youth Dance Company residency, I was filled with nerves, anticipation and excitement. Travelling to Sadler’s Wells to meet the people I would be working with for a year was daunting and I had no idea what to expect, apart from a room full of forty dancers and an internationally renowned choreographer. No matter how many times the NYDC support team had emailed ahead, reassuring us that everyone was in the same boat, I didn’t believe them! But, as they had predicted, as soon as I arrived, the excitement began to take over instead. After a brief welcome session and journey to Tring Park, Hertfordshire, (by the end of which I had already made lots of friends), we had our first studio session with Damien Jalet. And from that moment on, we didn’t stop moving!

NYDC always claims to have a great spread of dancers from across the country, and prior to this residency I assumed that this was a cliché, and actually the intake would mainly be from London. Therefore, one of the first things that I noticed was the massive range of accents and backgrounds of everyone! NYDC truly is a national company, and I think it is this diverse opportunity which makes it so special. Another assumption which I was happily wrong about was that the dancers would be overly-competitive. Every single member of the company is friendly, kind, funny and supportive and the connections we made over one week were amazing. The bonds were strengthened by the emotions of the week: the challenges and difficulties as well as the inspiration and moments of euphoria, and the cherry on the cake was of course that we are all passionate about dance. I made so many memories just on the first week!

Working with Damien Jalet and James O’Hara is an unforgettable, amazing experience. By the end of the week, everyone agreed that they have opened our minds to a completely new way of moving and dance. Damien constantly asks for more, and we are willing to try our very best to encapsulate his ideas in our movements. Watching Damien and James move as they demonstrate a phrase is mesmerising, and to envisage even some of his plans for the final piece is quite overwhelming. I think that one of the most valuable prts of working with Damien Jalet, is that he is an artist and not a teacher. He doesn’t lower his expectations of us as dancers because we are young, and though that means he demands a lot, and always challenges us, it also means that we have a clear insight into the professional world of dance. Throughout the week, my determination grew as I wanted to improve on both specifics and general aspects of dance. On one of the evenings, we had an informal interview/discussion with Damien and James, to learn about their work as choreographer and dancer so far. Both of the artists had some great words of wisdom and were very encouraging to all the dancers in the room. “Negativity is the only enemy of creativity” was perhaps my favourite quote of the session from Damien.

Aside from dance, the week was perfectly structured and organised, and for that I am incredibly grateful. The NYDC support team did a great job and it was very nice to be able to focus on dance and enjoying ourselves, without having to worry about anything else. During the day, we had six hours of dancing, interspersed with breaks. Then in the evening, we had informative and useful “Toolbox” sessions, in which we learnt and discussed a variety of things. A OneDance UK ambassador came in to talk about Health and Nutrition, and on other evenings, we discussed the media, auditions, and the life of a dancer. During the week, we also had the chance to have a physiotherapist assessment, a one-to-one tutorial, walking meditations and we learnt about breathing practice (different breathing techniques for digestion, relaxation, energy, and sleep). The whole week was beneficial and proved what a great company NYDC is, in all areas of dance.

My first experience of being in NYDC has been absolutely wonderful. The standard of dance was fantastic, the overall week was spectacular, and most importantly, the people in NYDC are brilliant. It was difficult to end the first week, and I am already looking forward to the next residency in February. I had no clear expectations of what my time at NYDC would be like, but already anything I had envisaged has been exceeded. I can’t express how excited I am to have been given this opportunity and I can definitely say that it was an absolutely incredible week.