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National Youth Dance Company

Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

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.

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!

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.

Company Blog: Alex

Monday, February 27th, 2017

National Youth Dance Company

Ever since the end of the first residency, I’d been vigorously counting down the days until the second one. I couldn’t quite believe that I was being separated from such an aspiring and diverse group of individuals for (what seemed like) such a long time. However, the time went over so quickly and I began to get nervous for rehearsals to commence again… would I remember all of the movement? Have I forgotten something? Many questions raced through my mind, but when I arrived and was reunited with everyone at the train station, all of these nerves and anxieties began to settle, and I realised that everyone was feeling the same.

Similar to the last residency, we plunged straight into rehearsals with the artistic team into Damien’s legendary ‘washing machine’ phrase. At first, mesmerisingly confused looks appeared from everyone in the room, but when we started dancing it was intriguing to see the improvement from everyone in the group and how people approach the movement from a different perspective. I could really feel the uplifting, positive energy emerging from everyone from the very moment we started rehearsals again: I felt extremely happy to be back again!

One key highlight from the start of the residency was watching a preview of Verve’s ‘A Fable in our Time’ choreographed by James Cousins. I loved the controversial element to the piece and how it showed off the flaws and worries provoked in modern-day society. Alongside this, it allowed everyone to get an insight into life after vocational training and life at Northern School of Contemporary Dance as a Q&A followed this outstanding performance.

A second highlight was in a toolbox session near the end of week where we divided into smaller groups and wrote our name on the bottom of a piece of paper. Then we passed it around in a circle and everyone would write a positive quality or something they admire about you. This really made everyone believe in themselves a lot more, especially with this residency being very physically and mentally demanding. The morning after, there wasn’t a sad face in sight – forty faces of happiness gleamed across the studio all day.

Near the end of this tremendous experience, Damien began to structure the most complex parts of the piece together. From this point onwards everyone was more understanding of what the piece was about and how it links together. Everyone was so desperate to get everything right; breaks would be spent on practicing material or improvising with a particular quality in mind to get to grips with the material.

By the end of the week my head was baffled with mentally perplexing rhythms and severe breathlessness, but one key thing I understood was that NYDC is a family – we all love to feed off the collective energy of the group to get past our ‘off days’ and we are inspired everyday by everyone in the group.

I really can’t wait to see how all of the rest of ‘Tarantiseismic’ is put together… bring on the premiere!

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.’

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.