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National Youth Dance Company

Author Archive

Save the date(s)!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

NYDC has a lot of activity coming up the next few months of 2020 and we’d love for you to get involved. Have a look below for dates to save in your diaries, and keep checking our pages as more info gets announced soon:

SEPTEMBER: There will be 2 short taster workshops (26 Sep & 28 Sep) delivered over Zoom, led by some of our incredible NYDC alumni. Gain insight into the NYDC experience and learn more about how to get involved in our workshops in October.

OCTOBER: Want to be a member of NYDC and work with Guest Artistic Director, Alesandra Seutin? Come dance with us and meet the team by attending a workshop happening in-person around the country, or for the first time ever this year, we will also hold 1 workshop digitally! Dates for your diary: Leeds (Sun 04 Oct), Falmouth (Sat 10 Oct), Newcastle (Sat 24 Oct), Ipswich (Mon 26 Oct), Online Digital Workshop (Mon 26 Oct), Nottingham (Tue 27 Oct), Brighton (Wed 28 Oct), Bristol (Thu 29 Oct), Birmingham (Sat 31 Oct), London (Sun 01 Nov). Registration forms are live now, click here

NOVEMBER: NYDC will hold an audition on Sat 14 Nov at Sadler’s Wells in London. A few dancers from every workshop will be invited to this day, which is a brilliant opportunity to meet like-minded dancers from all over England.

DECEMBER: The 2020-21 cohort of NYDC will begin their first residency with choreographer, Alesandra Seutin….

 We can’t wait to meet you all!

Photo: Stephen Wright

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.

Company blog: Millie

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Going into the April residency I undoubtedly didn’t know what to expect. No packing was needed, as this was the National Youth Dance Company’s first digital residency! Although we couldn’t be together in person, Zoom has become our best friend, and home these past two weeks. It allowed us to see each other’s faces and feel connected with the company, support team and artists.

Regardless of the numerous live-stream dance classes available online, my incentive to stay moving during the lockdown period decreased rapidly as the days went on. The virtual residency was just what I needed to restore my motivation and return to a somewhat normal schedule. Every morning, Edd, Folu, Grace or Artistic Director Russell Maliphant led company class. They assisted us on how to stay in tune with our bodies and deepen our knowledge on how to move them. After all the chaos of A Levels being cancelled and the possibility that we might not be able to perform our piece; taking class made me feel like me again. Alongside class we partook in Toolbox sessions, my favourite being the debate for our Gold Arts Award. It was fulfilling for the company to discuss issues we are passionate about within the world of dance.

The company found numerous ways for us stay connected with past and current cohorts. We had a ‘Bank Holiday Dance Jam’, which allowed us to dance with NYDC alumni including (BBC young dancer winner) Connor Scott! It was such a fun way to stay creative and inspired. Here’s what other company members have said about the Digital Residency:

“The digital residency summed up in 3 words  “Enlightening, reassuring and peaceful” Sonny

 I think the biggest challenge is not being able to separate your home space from your working space – on residency you are normally in a bubble where a lot of the outside world is forgotten. With the virtual residency, it’s impossible to separate work and home” Jack

 “During the residency I have learnt new methods of activating energy through yoga”  Elisabeth

“My favourite thing about this residency has been seeing how we have adapted to this time but still connected and developed as dancers” Mirabelle

Now whilst we didn’t wake up each morning to a delicious hotel buffet breakfast, I enjoyed using the time at home to sharpen up on my cooking skills before I move out for university. Lockdown has given me time to read, binge watch TV and research topics I’m interested in that I usually don’t have time for.

If this residency has taught me anything, it’s determination of the dance community to continue working on our craft regardless of the challenges and limitations we’re faced with. It has been truly inspiring. Ironically I feel my movement style has changed a lot this residency despite the fact I don’t have the company around me for inspiration. In my room I felt free to explore and take risks without the feeling of pressure or exposure. In some ways it is quite scary knowing that without NYDC there will be a loss of structure from my life, however there are so many skills I would like to maintain from this residency including yoga practice! I look forward to seeing the company in person and hope we will be able to perform our piece at some point in the future.

NATIONAL YOUTH DANCE COMPANY COVID-19 UPDATE

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

March 25, 2020

To our NYDC family and friends,

As the country’s flagship youth dance company, we bring together dancers from across the country to create and perform. So it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to postpone our activity for at least 12 weeks to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. This includes the NYDC April residency, the world premiere of our new work by 2019-20 Guest Artistic Director Russell Maliphant and our NYDC workshops during the April- June period.

Keeping everyone safe and healthy is our top priority and our thoughts are with those who have been affected by the coronavirus. We are now working hard to reschedule our activity wherever possible and are monitoring developments and following government, NHS and Public Health England guidance to determine the best time to do so.

This is a difficult time for us all. While we cannot physically dance together over the next few months, we will remain active and creative. We are looking at ways that we can all still share our love of dance and will make new content available digitally. Follow us on our social media channels for updates.

For dancers who are interested in participating in NYDC Workshops, please register your contact details

through this online form

We will be in touch with everyone registered as soon as we have more information to share with you. 

Thank you for your support and commitment to NYDC and for your understanding at this difficult time.

We look forward to dancing together with everyone again soon. 

With love,

The NYDC team

Dance with us on Social Media: @nydcompany

NATIONAL YOUTH DANCE COMPANY ANNOUNCES GUEST ARTISTIC DIRECTORS FOR 2019 – 2021

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

The company will begin creating a new commission with Russell Maliphant in autumn 2019. He takes over from current Guest Artistic Director, the Olivier award-winning dance artist Botis Seva whose work for NYDC, MADHEAD, premiered at DanceEast in Ipswich on 20 April. MADHEAD tours to six further venues across England this summer, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.

Now in its eighth year, NYDC has established a reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers. The company brings together the brightest talent from across England, immersing the members fully in the process of creating, performing and touring new work, giving them a unique insight into the dance profession.

Russell Maliphant, NYDC Guest Artistic Director 2019/20, said: “I am very happy to be working as the next Guest Artistic Director for National Youth Dance Company. NYDC provides great opportunities for young dancers to develop in to world class performers – I have seen this in action over the years and have personally worked with some of that talent in my own company.  I’m looking forward to starting this season with another new generation of dancers here in the UK.”

Alesandra Seutin, NYDC Guest Artistic Director 2020/21, said: “I am very excited and honoured to work with National Youth Dance Company as Guest Artistic Director in 2020/21. I look forward to breaking boundaries with the dancers of the future, and having the opportunity to be part of this beautiful process is amazing. With the support of Sadler’s Wells, I hope to continue growing as a leader and a maker collaborating with NYDC to keep its reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers.”

About the new Guest Artistic Directors

Russell Maliphant established his own dance company in 1996 as the framework to create productions and work with his own ensemble of dancers. Since then, he has received two Olivier awards, three South Bank Show awards and four Critics’ Circle National Dance awards. He became an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells in 2005.

Russell’s work has been performed by renowned dance artists including Sylvie Guillem, BalletBoyz, Munich Ballet and English National Ballet, for whom his piece Second Breath was part of the critically celebrated programme Lest We Forget. Two graduates of NYDC, Edd Arnold and Folu Odimayo, make up part of the Russell Maliphant Dance Company and can be seen performing in Silent Lines at Sadler’s Wells, on 18 & 19 October.

Russell Maliphant’s Silent Lines (c) Julian Broad

Performer, choreographer and teacher Alesandra Seutin grew up in Brussels and lives in London. She studied dance internationally and continued her training at the École des Sables in Senegal as a student of Germaine Acogny. She is now a worldwide ambassador of the Acogny technique and teaches at École des Sables and globally. In 2007, she founded Vocab Dance Company, and has progressively built an international reputation for creating thought provoking and visually striking performances.

Alesandra presented Boy Breaking Glass as part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary commission, Reckonings, in October 2018 alongside works from Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Julie Cunningham and current NYDC Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva.

Alesandra Seutin’s Boy Breaking Glass (c) Johan Persson

BOTIS SEVA: “WE SHOULD FEEL THE POWER OF ALL OF THEM ON STAGE.”

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

“It’s just a massive privilege,” says choreographer Botis Seva on his recent Olivier Award win. His talent was spotted early through his participation in Breakin’ Convention’s artist development programmes; it was here he was introduced to our wider artist development team, and later invited to curate an evening in the Lilian Baylis Studio. This led to Sadler’s Wells commissioning his first main stage work, BLKDOG, which premiered on our stage in October 2018. The piece received huge acclaim and, only a few months later, the ambitious young choreographer found himself collecting an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall.

“It felt very weird because I wasn’t expecting to win,” he says humbly. His fellow nominees were all illustrious names in the world of dance, including the Royal Ballet, Ballet British Columbia and the mighty William Forsythe. “It’s quite weird being up against him – someone whose work I’ve seen and been like ‘wow’,” says Botis.

So how did he celebrate his success? Sipping champagne with theatre royalty at the after party? He went straight home for a cup of tea and biscuits. “I had no time to let it sink in because I was working with NYDC on another show. That’s my job, innit!”

The next morning he was back in the studio to continue rehearsals with the 38 young dancers of National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), of which Botis is this year’s Guest Artistic Director. “Everyone started clapping,” he says, “I think they were in shock.”

NYDC, a project run by Sadler’s Wells, auditions the brightest young dance talent aged 16-24 from across the UK each year for the opportunity to gain experience of working in a professional dance company and collaborating with a well-established choreographer on creating a new dance work. Previous artistic directors have included Akram Khan, Jasmin Vardimon, Damien Jalet and Sharon Eyal.

Botis’s creation, MADHEAD, is a piece that reflects the experiences of the young dancers. “It’s about their generation and what the future could look like. That is the question that I have for the piece. What’s the future for young people growing up in this kind of society?”

“It was a weird process because we had a short amount of time to make the work,” he says. “For me the process started by questioning myself: how did I feel when I was 17 and where was my brain at?”

It was also a collaborative process with the company, which involved Botis interviewing the young dancers. “They felt like they didn’t have the same respect or teachers didn’t give them the same kind of respect. There’s a concept in that which we’re exploring. A lot of them feel frustrated at being called young people and how they get treated.”

This experience of working with a young company echoes his own experiences of getting into dance growing up. He started going to classes in Elephant and Castle after Tony Adigun, founder of Avant Garde Dance, ran a workshop in his school. “I had nothing else to do so I just went to these classes that were happening.”

Botis cites Tony Adigun as an early role model. “Meeting him was kind of a big revelation,” he says. He encouraged Botis to audition for his youth company and “after that,” Botis says “I started to take it seriously”. It wasn’t until later when he started teaching at a local youth club, that Botis began cutting his teeth as a choreographer.

Tony’s influence can be felt in Botis’s own style as a choreographer, which is difficult to define. “I call it free-form hip hop,” he says. “There’s a mix of contemporary and African dance. I can’t really give it a title, but I use free-form hip hop as a base. I can’t really label it anything else.”

National Youth Dance Company perform MADHEAD by 2018-19
Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva © Tony Nandi 2019

As a young, black choreographer with influences from hip hop, he feels he hasn’t escaped certain associations. “That happens all the time. Sometimes it’s not even about my blackness. I don’t use that excuse. I’ve made that work because I feel a certain way,” he says. “Maybe because it’s labelled as hip hop or it’s seen as hip hop, [people think] oh it must have something to do with knife crime. BLKDOG wasn’t really about that. For other people it seemed like it was about that. Technically the hoods don’t really mean it’s about gangs.”

So how does he feel about the future of hip hop? “It is changing because there are loads of artists taking it in different avenues, but I don’t know if it has the same respect. I think people might appreciate it more, but it is going to take some time to land.”

His movement language exists somewhere at the centre of a Venn diagram of contemporary, African and hip hop dance – but there is something else uniquely Botis that comes in to play. There is a darkness, both aesthetically in the stark, dimly lit staging, and thematically, tackling subjects such as mental health, the responsibilities of adulthood and the struggles of being an artist.

The trailer for MADHEAD feels straight out of a dystopian drama like Black Mirror, which coincidentally Botis is a fan of. He credits cinema as a big influence on his work. “I’m into psychological thrillers, mind-bending stuff. I love that,” he says. But for Botis, the most important thing about MADHEAD is the opportunity to hear what this generation has to say.

“It’s a new voice within young people and I think they’re trying to say something. People need to be there to witness it. They’re trying to communicate some of their frustrations about today’s society and they should be heard. We should feel the power of all of them on stage.”

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is supported using public funding by the Department for Education and Arts Council England.

BOTIS SEVA IS THE NEXT GUEST ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL YOUTH DANCE COMPANY

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Botis Seva

 

Seva takes over from the current Guest Artistic Director, Sadler’s Wells’ Associate Artist Sharon Eyal. Used To Be Blonde, Eyal’s production for National Youth Dance Company, premiered to critical acclaim at Sadler’s Wells earlier this month and is touring across England this summer.

Botis Seva is a dance artist, choreographer and director working within the realms of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop. He was awarded the Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund and the Marion North Mentoring Award in 2015, and has won two international choreographic competitions: Choreography 30 in Hannover, Germany and Copenhagen’s International Choreographic Competition. Seva’s recent dance credits include InNoForm for the British Dance Edition & Laban Theatre, Woman of Sun for Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Partnership Compass Commission, outdoor work H.O.Hfor Without Walls, GDIF & Norfolk & Norwich Festival and TuTuMucky for Scottish Dance Theatre.

Seva and his collective Far From the Norm have previously performed at Sadler’s Wells with Breakin’ Convention, and curated a Wild Card evening in the Lilian Baylis Studio. In October his work will be seen in Reckonings, a triple bill commissioned by Sadler’s Wells to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our current theatre building, which will also feature pieces by UK-based dance-makers Julie Cunningham and Alesandra Seutin.

Botis Seva, NYDC Guest Artistic Director, said: “I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with National Youth Dance Company. I look forward to sharing my passion for dance with these young performers, and having the opportunity to challenge my own dance language while I am Guest Artistic Director. Having the chance to work with NYDC has always been on my bucket list, and I hope with the support of Sadler’s Wells this experience will truly push me as an artist.”

Experience Workshops will take place across England from May to July. The workshops are an opportunity to find out more about NYDC. Young dancers will take part in a company class, learn repertoire from NYDC productions and take part in creative tasks. Participants will also meet members of the current company, ask questions and get advice on dance training and careers in dance. Experience Workshops are used as an opportunity to be considered for a place in the 2018-19 company. They are open to dancers from all backgrounds and abilities, with experience in any dance style.

Entering its seventh year, NYDC has established a reputation for innovative, challenging and influential work, producing open-minded and curious dancers. The company brings together the brightest talent from across England, immersing the members fully in the process of creating, performing and touring new work, giving them a unique insight into the dance profession. NYDC has a track record of putting young people on paths to successful dance careers, with over 80% of all former NYDC dancers now either in further dance studies, in vocational training or working professionally. Graduates from NYDC have since danced in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teaċ Daṁsa, Hofesh II, and the Jasmin Vardimon Company.

In addition to the core programme, NYDC runs additional projects that support dance in communities across the country. Current members will visit Falmouth in May for a residency with local young dancers who are a part of Propeller and Hall for Cornwall Youth Dance. This starts a creation process that culminates in a large-scale outdoor performance at the Eden Project in July. Also, NYDC recently partnered with the inclusive Corali Dance Company to create a new dance film, directed by Paul Davidson (a Corali and NYDC dancer), which has been developed into a workshop for young dancers with regional partners across England.

Q&A: Matilda

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

National Youth Dance Company

Where from/area:

I live in Bleasdale, near to Garstang, Preston.

 

Former schools/places of study:

At the moment, I study A Level’s in Dance, English Literature, French and History at Runshaw College, Leyland and before that I went to St. Cecilia’s RC High School in Longridge.

 

Please tell us a bit about what age you started dancing, why and where you were first taught?

I started dancing when I was four years old, and attended The Garstang School of Dance. I did weekly classes in Tap, Ballet and Modern which were great fun and really encouraged my passion for dance and performing. Then, when I was 15, I auditioned for and joined Ludus Youth Dance Company in Lancaster and then Maelstrom Youth, which introduced me to contemporary dance.  I continue to dance with both these companies as it gives me an invaluable experience of contemporary dance technique and performance.

 

When did you apply for the National Youth Dance Company and why you wanted to be involved?

I applied for NYDC at UDance Nationals 2016, where I did an experience workshop. I honestly didn’t imagine that I would be asked to attend the final audition, let alone be invited to join the company. I knew that NYDC was the flagship youth dance company for England, but not much more than that, so my main reason for attending the initial workshop was for the chance to dance more!  Going to Sadler’s Wells for the final audition was nerve-wracking, but I approached it as another fantastic dance experience under international dance professionals.

 

How did it feel to be selected?

I was absolutely speechless! After the initial surprise, I was ecstatic and very proud of myself, along with being nervous to see what the year would have in store.

 

How have you found the experience so far and what are you most looking forward to?

NYDC has been an amazing experience so far. It’s difficult to describe, but the intensity of the days, the quality of the dance and the wonderful people in the company all mean that I didn’t want to come home after the October and February residencies!

Really, I love it all, so I’m looking forward to everything: the next residency, the Premiere and the tour of the UK in the summer.  At the moment, I’m particularly excited to be performing at Latitude Festival 2017 and hoping we will get the chance to watch some of the other performances there.

 

Tell me a bit about the show – what can we expect? What new skills have you learnt?

Tarantiseismic is going to be a very powerful performance, especially as the company is so big, with lots of dancers. Damien has been exploring abandonment, ritual, control, and melancholia with us. I think it will be exhausting to dance, and amazing to watch!

Particularly, we have worked on finding opposition, release and control in our movements, whilst also improving fitness and stamina along the way.

 

What are you hoping to gain from the experience?

NYDC has already increased my confidence a lot in dance, and as the year progresses, it is my aim to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone. NYDC is also a wonderful opportunity to work closely in a professional environment with an international choreographer, and to experience growing from a group of young dancers into a cohesive Company, skills which I know will be useful throughout my life, not just in dance.

 

What has it been like to work with Damien Jalet?

It has been an incredible experience working with Damien Jalet- he is an internationally-renowned choreographer and he pushes us to achieve things I didn’t think were possible. Damien makes us work very hard, and although each day is as exhausting as the last, it is also very rewarding.  He is so focussed and has such a clear idea of what he wants to achieve that it inspires all of us. Having watched various of Damien’s previous works, it is a very exciting feeling to hope that he will create something just as spectacular with us.

 

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!