Text Size
Contrast

National Youth Dance Company

Archive for July, 2020

Alumni Blog: Isis

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

It’s 7:45, a sunny morning in Ipswich.  I’m in a room full of bleary-eyed people my age, with a damp cloth in hand, listening to soft chatter filling the room and watching bodies shuttle back and forth across the floor wiping it clean. No, I’m not describing a morning clear up after a wild party. It’s simply the scene of 40 extremely dedicated dancers, working alongside world-renowned choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan, to collectively prepare the studio for a day’s work in the National Youth Dance Company.

I was a member of NYDC for 3 years and those memories are peppered with unique moments like this. For me, periods of reminiscing have become all too frequent at present. Time, as it has for a lot of people, has taken on a sort of endless quality, leading me into rabbit-holes of thought that just aren’t excavated enough in the franticness of everyday life. But as the great philosopher Channing Tatum said one time in some interview; ‘I don’t know what you’re going through life doing if you’re not really trying to collect some really great memories’. Going through my personal catalogue of memories (and some quite literal Snapchat ones) has caused me to arrive naturally at some reflection of those stand-out points that have impacted me most as a person, and therefore as a dancer. At the risk of sounding like an ageing popstar in an auto-biographical documentary – those were some truly great times.

Joining NYDC when I was just 15 was an incredible experience. Not only was I set to work with some of the most exciting and interesting choreographers – proffered by Sadler’s Wells no less – but I was in a huge network of dancers; people who were older than I was, from different backgrounds to me, who had different skill sets, but who were, crucially, all as passionate and committed to boogieing as I was.

Now I know the diverse, national nature of NYDC is already one of its biggest selling points as a youth company, but it’s not emphasised enough. Growing up in the east of England I was extremely lucky with the opportunities and access available to me as a young dancer.  Being in close proximity to London and from a middle-class background meant I was truly privileged growing up. I was a member of my brilliant local dance school King Slocombe, as well as the invaluable Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in Ipswich at the Jerwood Dancehouse. But I vividly remember, at the NYDC final auditions in London, my dance world expanding… there was more than one CAT scheme, there were youth companies, there were hip hop crews, there was a whole youth dance world!

Within NYDC, not only did young people from different geographical locations collaborate and work together, these were dancers from different socio-economics backgrounds, different dance genres, of different ethnicities, with different life plans, personalities, star signs, you name it. ‘Melting-pot’ could never have been a more apt phrase. And, in light of now, in a world full of separation, anxiety and fractured beliefs, it highlights the camaraderie and collaboration of my experiences in NYDC.

As well as positively trying to tackle social inequalities within the dance world, assimilating a wide range of dancers all in one place during some of the most developmental stages of life is a smart move. Each cohort of NYDC becomes its own network, a segment of the interaction-based dance industry, working as its own ecosystem which creates ties and relationships crossing over years and provides a shared platform between a large group of dancers, which strengthens associations between dancers and can inspire artistic working relationships. Another plus: a ton more follows on Instagram. That being said, establishing these kinds of tangible relationships with people not in one’s social circle is extremely rare now. Unless you posses the enviable self-confidence to walk up to total strangers after a performance (let alone smile at someone on the tube), in this digital age, these personal meetings are especially hard to cultivate for oneself. This is never more apparent than in London, a city of opportunity but nearly oppressively so. I’m in my second year at London Contemporary Dance School which luckily has extensive experience of inviting the outside dance world in, but for other regional schools, it could be easier for students to feel a little isolated – a bit like everyone at the moment. That being said, there are intricate webs of mutual friends and people meeting in one-off workshops, leading to ‘I’ve seen them on Facebook’ or ‘they were in my audition’. As we are connecting digitally now like never before, we may discover opportunities, and people, that we might have missed in the everyday processes of dashing to the toilet, stretching and getting water manically before class.

Creating these links is only really one facet of the NYDC machine. To really understand what NYDC does, go and see a performance, it’ll speak for itself. But whilst that’s not possible, look at the dancers of NYDC, look at the rich variety of performers and creators that have passed through this catalyst of excellence. Each dancer carries with them the experiences and connections they made through NYDC, which if you asked them, probably still influence them in some capacity today. But NYDC, as a whole, carries the legacy of each of its dancers and contributors; it celebrates the power of collective effort which needs to be preserved and nurtured for upcoming generations of dancers and creators.

The 2023-2024 NYDC Guest Artistic Director is Oona Doherty.


Oona Doherty, born in 1986, is a Northern-Irish choreographer based in Belfast. She studied at St. Louise’s Comprehensive College in Belfast, at the London Contemporary Dance School, the University of Ulster and LABAN. She earned an undergraduate and a master’s degree in the Disciplines of Contemporary Dance. Since 2010, she has worked with several companies, including: T.r.a.s.h. dance/performance group (Netherlands), Abattoir Fermé (Belgium), Veronika Riz (Italy), Emma Martin/United Fall, Enda Walsh and Landmark Productions (Ireland).

She has won many awards for her choreographic work, which includes: Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus (2015), a 30-minute solo that won her the Best Performer Award at the Tiger Dublin Fringe (2016), the Aerowaves award (2016/17), the Total Theatre Dance Award and The Place Dance Award at the Edinburgh Fringe (2017); Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer (2018), which won the Best Dance Show 2019 award from the English daily “The Guardian”; Lady Magma – The Birth of a Cult (2019).

She has been an associated artist as the MAC Belfast HATCH Artist (2016), an Aerowaves Selected Artist, Prime Cut REVEAL Artist (2017), Maison de la Danse Lyon and La Briqueterie Paris Associate (2017-20), and again the MAC Belfast HATCH Artist (2020).

She has collaborated on music videos with the Rubber Bandits, Girl Band, Jamie XX. She participated in the digital Dancing Nation festival promoted by BBC Arts and Sadler’s Wells with Hope Hunt (2020). Carla Holmes made a documentary about her artistic work titled Welcome To A Bright White Limbo, which won the Best Short Irish Film Award and a special mention at Tribeca in New York (2020).

Her choreographic experimentation has extended to the world of visual arts in an exhibition titled Death of the Hunter, shown at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, Lothringer 13 Halle in Munich, ADC Gallery in Geneva and the Kanal – Centre Pompidou in Brussels.

Francis, Leeds

Francis has been dancing from a young age, training with MeshDance in Leeds and Stage Door Theatre School in Guiseley, and performing at venues such as Northern Ballet and National Theatre. Francis especially enjoys commercial dance styles and musical theatre, but is looking forward to learning new skills and working with other young dancers as a member of NYDC cohort 12.

Roselynn, Manchester

Roselynn started dancing in her bedroom as a self taught dancer. She auditioned for the Lowry CAT scheme in 2022 and is in her second year of training. She has experience in Contemporary, Commercial, and a bit of Kathak but would love to dance every style if she could.

Fue, Huddersfield​

Fue has been a dancer for the most part of her life. She started at a local dance school, learning Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and Acro. Then in 2020, Fue joined Phoenix Youth Academy and the CAT programme at Northern School Of Contemporary Dance. Since then, Fue has been working to explore more contemporary movement and techniques.

Matthew, Durham

Matthew started dancing with Tin Arts when he was 17 with a mixed ability group of contemporary dancers.
They have reached the U Dance finals 3 times in a row. Matthew has skills in ballet, jazz, Bollywood and more.
Matthew has been with NYDC for one year touring the country.

Ayuna, London

Ayuna grew up in Siberia, Russia, but moved to the UK aged 15. She is a talented athlete and musician, and, as a child, enjoyed ballroom dancing. Over the past few years, Ayuna has taken every possible opportunity to train in different dance styles and develop her choreography skills, working with companies such as Step Change Stusios, Leicester ProDance, Propel Dance, and One Dance UK, as part of their Young Creatives Programme. She is over the moon to be a part of NYDC and can’t wait to take Cohort 12’s new work on tour.

Daisy, Ashford

Daisy has been dancing since she was three, with the Margaret Giles School of Dancing. She achieved GCSE Grade 9 from the Royal Academy of Dance. She is currently studying UAL Level 3 Dance at Canterbury College during the week and training on the CAT Program at Trinity Laban at weekends. Daisy has experience is lots of dance styles, including Contemporary, Ballet, Hip-Hop and Tap.

Rosa, Leeds

Rosa started their dance training at RJC learning Soca when they were 4. They then moved on to dance for Gipton Together in primary school, where they learned commercial dance styles and performed competitively. They started the CAT scheme at NSCD when they were 13 whilst also studying BTEC dance in highschool, and now train in contemporary dance with Phoenix youth Academy Seniors alongside their A-levels.

Monét, London

Monét’s experience with dance started with ballet when she was three years old at Siegeris Dance Company. She continued to practice ballet for thirteen years until they joined ‘Artistry Youth Dance Company’ in 2020, where she practiced Horton technique and jazz. Monét currently trains at ‘Twiin dance company and agency’ in street dance and modern, as well as practicing afro and hip hop at ‘Rhythm Masters’.

Megan, Durham​

Megan started training in contemporary dance at TIN Arts in Durham when she was 2, later joining Fishburn Youth Dance and Drama when she was 10, where she trained in ballet, modern and tap. At age 12 Megan was awarded a place at the Dance City CAT scheme in Newcastle. She now trains solely in contemporary and ballet alongside her A-levels in Maths, Religious Studies and Textiles.

Georgia, Penzance

Georgia has been dancing since the age of 3. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz and commercial, before finding a love for movement through contemporary dance. She is currently taking A level dance at Truro college and has attended Exeter CAT scheme for the last five years.

Otis, Dartmoor

Otis is an expressive and theatrical mover who has honed his dance skills working with Exeter CAT scheme and Chaya Youth Company. He is thrilled to be joining NYDC this year and is determined to throw himself fully into the creative process. He is also a talented mathematician and pianist.

Gilbert, Cambridge

Gilbert has been dancing since before he can remember. At 4, he began classes locally in ballet, tap and modern. He expanded his training at Bodywork in Cambridge, where he was on their Theatre School program from ages 13 to 16. To focus on hip-hop, Gilbert spent the following 2 years as a member of London-based crew, Elementz Youth. Now 19, NYDC has proved a new venture into experimental contemporary dance for him.

Meg, Hertfordshire

Meg has trained in a range of styles growing up. Her training now is predominantly ballet and contemporary and she dances at Carter School of Dance, Hot House Dance, The Place’s CAT Scheme and English National Ballet’s Youth company. Currently, she is in her final year of A-levels studying geography, PE and sociology

Luis, Folkestone

Luis started dancing at the age of 4 at Instep Dance Company in which he found a love for contemporary dance. Luis has studied dance at GCSE level and is currently studying a double A – Level in dance.

Morgan, Newbury

Morgan started dancing at the age of 6, he became attached to dancing at Trinity Newbury performing arts school at the age of 12 studying the contemporary technique along side breakdance, jazz, and Horton. He teaches boys and girls dance company’s competing in competitions, he is self taught and is pushing this dream to continue is training after 6 form to pursue a career in performing arts.

Luke, Birmingham

Luke started taking street dance classes when he was four years old but had always loved moving to music. He has trained in many different styles such as Hip Hop, House, commercial, contemporary, ballet, afro fusion, jazz and more. His main dance inspirations are creatives like Paris Goebel and Les Twins and looks to be a performer and choreographer to the stars. He currently trains at Marshon Dance Company and Birmingham Ormiston Academy but has worked with company’s such as the Hippodrome, Zoonation Youth Company, Ace dance and Music and more.

Rowan, Frome

Rowan has always had a passion for physical movement. As a child he took a few ballet classes but it just didn’t click for him. However, it was not until early last year he started showing a real interest in receiving formal training. Currently training at the Bristol School of Acting on a dance course, this is only the beginning of Rowan’s dance journey.

Lina, London

Lina started her dance journey at a local afterschool club, training in tap, ballet and modern. After some time, she turned acro gymnast at Bromley Valley for the next 5 years before training in jazz and Horton at Artistry Youth Dance. Now, she dances for Shift at The Place.

Charly, Leamington Spa

Charly started dancing aged three at Susan Taylor Dance Academy. She is part of Motionhouse Youth Dance Company and trains at Fiery Feet Dance Studio as well being a competitive gymnast. She was in NYDC last year with Wayne McGregor CBE and in September she is excited to be starting her full-time training in professional dance and musical theatre at Bird College.

Jacob, Ipswich

Jacob has loved dancing for as long as he can remember, training from a young age in a variety of different styles. Having taken a break from dance to focus on sporting endeavours, he joined DanceEast’s CAT scheme last year, and has since noticed a real boost in his confidence and technique. Jacob is at his happiest when he dances, so is really excited to be a part of NYDC this year.

Wray, Manchester​

Wray has been dancing since she was three years old, training in ballet and tap at Glenda Ann School of Dancing. At the age of thirteen, Wray was introduced to contemporary when she joined Company Chameleon’s youth dance company. She is currently studying her A-levels in Biology, Physics, and Maths.

Ruben, Tavistock

Ruben started dancing with the B company aged 8. He then moved onto working with Attik dance and Ben Dunks. Mainly focusing on contemporary but including aspects from a variety of styles. When lockdown happened Ruben stopped dancing and only recently decided to pick it up again by attending the nydc workshops and joining chhaya youth dance in Exeter. Ruben is currently studying fine art at Exeter College.

Aleesha, Leeds

Aleesha started dancing at the age of two at Baby ballet. At the age of 7 she joined her local dance school Barbara Mann Dance academy where she did Ballet, Tap and Mordern. She later trained at Northern Ballet, whilst at Northern Ballet she discovered her love for Contemporary Dance. This led her to Phoenix Dance theatre Youth Academy.

Phoebe, Winchester

Phoebe started dancing at four and a half at Stagecoach, Winchester and joined Intregr8 three years later. She is now training with Hampshire Youth Dance Company and CAT at The Place. She was also part of last years Cohort.

Kitty, Haslemere

Kitty started dancing at the age of 7, taking part in Tap and Modern dance classes at her local dance school. Later she began ballet and joined the CAT scheme at The Place. She trains regularly with Phillipa Hogan’s School of Dance and CAT. This is her second year with NYDC.

Meeri, London

Meeri started dancing at the age of 3 and found her passion for movement while training at Tamara Rasmussen Opisto in Helsinki, Finland. Upon moving to the UK, she continued training in ballet and took contemporary dance classes at The Place, where she currently performs with Shift Youth Dance Company and trains with their CAT Programme. She also studies A-level Dance alongside Economics, Maths, and Further Maths. She finds joy and inspiration through dance.

Anya, Derby

Anya started dance by attending creative-contemporary classes at Déda Dance Derby, since the age of three, and has progressed to their youth dance company ‘Bounceback.’ She has recently completed the first year of the One Dance UK young creatives program. She danced at Base Studios London, through a school trip, and alongside her dancing is studying A-level Mathematics, Chemistry and Spanish .

Aoibh, Manchester

Aoibh started dancing ballet at the age of 3. She is currently training in contemporary and ballet at the Centre of Advanced Training at The Lowry. She is also involved in dance at her school, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, where she is studying for A-Levels. This is Aoibh’s second year in NYDC.

Ernie, Porlock

Ernie is a boxer/dancer who has had an untraditional way through dance. His style is difficult to pin, but he would describe it as highly physical and sensitive to audiences in site-specific dance. He currently dances with Stacked Wonky who create experimental, site-specific performance worlds using movement, choreography, sound and objects.

Venus, London

V began dancing in primary school through ballet and jazz classes before reaching secondary where she began contemporary classes with The Place. From there, she joined their resident youth performance companies as well as the CAT scheme. Currently, she is enrolled in the BRIT school dance strand where she will continue her training for the next 2 years. This is her second year in NYDC having worked with Wayne McGregor in Cohort 11 last year.

Frank, Sheffield

Frank first started dancing formally age 11 at a local dance centre were he took classes in commercial dance. He then went onto to train with Phoenix Dance Theatre and Northern School of Contemporary Dance (CAT) where he trains in Contemporary dance and ballet. Frank is hoping to undertake a degree in musical theatre once he finishes his A levels.

James, Chesterfield

James (Slayer) started dancing when he was 8. He entered his first battle at 9 and since then has won numerous titles in popping and all styles categories. At 15 he became the youngest ever open world modern jive champion. James trained for two years on the Swindon Urban Dance CAT programme and two years at Birmingham contemporary CAT programme.