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National Youth Dance Company

Archive for March, 2017

Company Blog: Jasmine

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

National Youth Dance Company

Arriving in Hull on the morning of the 11th of February was a huge relief for all of us. After suffering from a painful, clammy and crammed train journey from Kings Cross, we were more than ready to gather our suitcases and clamber on to the couch to begin the final journey to the Hymer’s College Studios. Despite Hull greeting us with miserable weather, everyone’s spirits were high. Being reunited with the company was such a cherishing feeling; it had been over 4 months since all of us had been together again, including Christmas and New Year, and so when everyone was finally dancing together in the studio, the atmosphere was electric.
This residency, as well as working with the inspiring James O’Hara and of course Guest Artistic Director Damien Jalet, we had the honour of having dancer Aimilios Arapoglou join the artistic team. The energies of Damien, James and Aimilios combined, made the week of training overflow with creativity, every single one of us never stopped learning and growing as dancers. When each of them showed a specific movement, everyone was memorised.
In comparison to last residency, there was not an immediate need for ‘company bonding’ and so the main focus was to get a main skeleton of the piece. Damien had given us plenty of material to take home and practise throughout the 4 months away. Fortunately, myself and a few others from the company see each other every Saturday on a CAT Scheme and so we used our breaks and lunchtimes to fine tune the material.
The week itself put a lot of strain on us physically and mentally as the amount of information given to us day by day was relentless. It didn’t take long for us to gain multiple hip and shoulder bruises and very sore necks! One example of this was when we were dancing a rapid breathing phrase comprising of intense movements accompanied by rhythmic outbursts of inhaling and exhaling for around 6 minutes straight. Our breath started off as a sharp, desperate sound but slowly evolved into a soothing choir whereby the movement gave us a sense of empowerment rather than fatigue. Suddenly we were being moved rather than moving ourselves, feeling stronger after each exhale. This tired and fatigued state slowly evolved our dancing, making our movements free and abandoned, and the exact quality Damien wanted to find within us. As the week progressed we began to dance with gravity, allowing our bodies to be weighted and grounded to bring power and passion into our movement. Throughout the week we also worked on a section whereby the connection between our weight and the ground was paramount. We were throwing our bodies left, right and centre, making percussive beats on the ground, creating vast amounts of energy and vitality around us. What was particularly special was feeling how everyone’s energy around you, as you danced, had progressed so much since the previous residency. The determination and will power each of us had during the week, and pushing ourselves to the extreme, helped bond us even more as a company.
The feeling of being with NYDC each residency as I said before is a ‘home’ feeling. With the premiere looming in under two months, I cannot wait to see what Tarantiseismic is going to become.
Sadler’s Wells….watch out, this piece is going to send some shock waves…

Company Blog: Matilda

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

National Youth Dance Company

The three months between the October and February residency seemed to go very quickly, perhaps because it was such a busy time, both in and out of school. Yet, when I had only one week to go until the February residency, I realised just quite how much I had missed being with NYDC. The intense dancing, long days and amazing friends meant that I was super excited to get back into the swing of it as quickly as possible! Now, having had yet another fantastic experience with NYDC, being at school again feels like torture and I cannot wait to have the final residency in April.

So, on Saturday 11th February, I set off to spend my half-term holidays doing something I love! The company was reunited at the train station and had a few moments to do some excited catching up, before being whisked straight into the studio to begin rehearsals. The first session was particularly hard, as we had to get the movement and the quality back into our bodies, but after that the week’s classes went incredibly quickly. Each day we rehearsed previous material, learnt many new phrases and then later in the week, we started adding choreography together. It was amazing to see how a few bits and bobs of movement could suddenly expand and become 7 minutes of the piece, in fact it was thrilling! During the week, we got to know Damien’s way of working more and more, and, thanks to the toolbox sessions, we were also given an insight into his other works and choreographic career. This was particularly inspiring, as it reinforced for me how lucky we are to be working with such a renowned artist, who has made daring, exhilarating pieces before and is now working with us. We were also very lucky to have James and Aimilios on this residency, two of the most wonderful dancers, who were so inspiring to watch and also extremely supportive. By the end of the week, I felt that as a company we had achieved loads, and individually, I was also really happy with my week’s work.

NYDC is a commitment outside out of the residencies as well, and it is very important that we practice, because our time in the studio is actually quite limited in comparison to the length of work we expect to make. With this in mind, I had duly practiced and prepared, ready for February. This helped me to improve, and also, allowed me to pick up phrases on the second residency quicker than I had done on the first. For me, NYDC is all about challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone, and on this residency, I pushed myself. I am proud of what I have achieved in NYDC so far, and this is definitely a continuing aim and I’m hoping that the next residency will help my confidence in dance even more!

Perhaps my favourite part of the February residency was seeing NYDC shift from a group of dancers to a company, and creating strong bonds with almost every-other dancer. At first, a company of 40 sounded very large, but it is amazing how quickly we connected in dance and as friends. On top of our classes, some members of the company decided to go into the studio after lunch and dinner and improvise. It was beautiful and very moving to watch, and even more exhilarating to join in with. I think it was this, and the quick developments of the piece which consolidated the company and proved our love of dance!

The February NYDC residency was absolutely brilliant, with never a dull minute. I am so excited for our next residency, the premiere and the tour and I’m sure that there are many amazing things to come!

Company Blog: Beth

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Starting the second NYDC residency personally evoked a whole cocktail of emotions. I was ridiculously excited to get in the studio with everybody again. I felt overwhelmingly happy to simply think about nothing but dance for an entire week with a beautiful bunch of talented and amazing individuals. Yet I was still slightly anxious as the premiere was much more visible than it was in the first residency which meant that I had to be prepared for an incredibly intense week of counts, new and familiar material, complicated spacing and physically demanding schedules.

National Youth Dance Company

With no time to waste, upon arrival at Hymer’s College we were immediately working in the studio with Damien, James and Aimilios who was joining us for the first time. In all honesty the nervousness never quite settled, however the excitement took the front seat as the room was filled with high spirits and raw determination, it was amazing to see everybody dance again. Almost as though we hadn’t been a part since October. One of the most profound differences in this residency was how much further we were bonding as a company, even finding time in our breaks and dinners to improvise together and make connections with as many company members as possible. Seeing each other improvise was such a highlight, even Damien joining in at one point! This made the entire process even more special, because by this point there was always someone to laugh with, go through things with and to motivate you.

As days passed by, more and more of the piece ‘Tarantiseismic’ was surfacing, building large chunks of material that initially felt impossible, but as we worked together as a company, we soon realised that no matter how tiring it is, we can and will do it, empowering one another to keep going and really adore that almost tangible energy building within all of us! The best thing also was working in the studio theatre in Hymer’s, which had no mirrors. At first this was a shock to the system but very quickly I realised that dancing without mirrors leaves less room for judgement of yourself, which essentially made dancing the material even more incredible. As we all emotionally said our goodbyes on the final day, even closer than when we said hello earlier on in the week, it was terrifying but more importantly so exciting knowing that the next time we are all together in April, it will be in preparation of the premiere.