The first residency has been such a great experience. When we all first arrived at Sadler’s Wells, I admit I was nervous, but I settled into the environment very quickly. Traveling together to Tring Park was exciting, as I found myself getting to know people quicker than I thought, meaning I was already comfortable on arrival. The first day was nothing like I expected, but it was the most amazing day because we started dancing straight away, starting with a long session of yoga. We continued yoga every day, it was a great way to start an early schedule, as it was relaxing, and by the end of the week, I found myself stronger than before. Then Michael set an improvisation task, which continued throughout the week, and this was a fantastic way to get to know each other. To finish this improvisation, all forty-two of us came together into the space and began a breathing pattern. As we slowly finished together, everyone began to clap; this created a sense of community after just one day. I didn’t only feel close to the company by the first day, but also to the artistic team. Michael communicated with us wonderfully, as if we were his professional company. This made it easy to settle in because we felt instantly connected to him, with his vibrant personality and his love for dance. His concept of getting to know everyone’s individuality also brought us closer, as he started to join in with moments during sessions. Having Rachel Poirier and James O’Hara there opened up many doors, we learned so much just by watching them dance.
On the sixth day, Michael stopped us for the first time during an improvisation and told us to simply ‘Dance’, after he had watched us having an independent dance battle during lunch. He said ‘Why can’t you do that. Simply battle’. After that day, we all started to enjoy ourselves more, and I found a new style of dance that I never knew existed inside me. I found that every day during improvisations, I experienced wonderful moments with different members of the company. Although I found myself so exhausted, I would find that I stayed focused in these moments nevertheless, as I couldn’t bring myself away.
Although we started very early and ended late, I loved dancing every day for hours, especially with this fabulous company. I settled in comfortably with everyone, as they were so accepting, and living together only brought us closer. After day three, the tiredness took effect, however, I soon got very use to the routine.
Each night we had a toolkit session, where we spoke about various topics such as: health, how to prepare for an audition, and we spoke to the Artistic Team. This was my favored and most memorable toolkit. It really effected me, as I remember Michael saying ‘Follow your passion, not your fear’. This I will always keep with me, especially during audition time, as it is always easy to be disheartened by fear. Further encouragement for me were James’ words, “Dance is what you want to do, no need for a master plan” as after many years of dancing, I feel I need a backup plan, but now have a different perspective.
Throughout the week, Michael’s ideas and thoughts became more evident, especially on the fifth day, when we started to create phrases with people’s movements, which he had taken from the improvisations. He started to pick out people to explore and create moments. As we watched a moment being explored, it was really interesting seeing Michael’s vision, as we observed the atmosphere he intended on creating within the space. By the end of the week, I felt like we’d achieved more than I expected to within such a short space of time. When we were creating moments and movements together as a company, bringing them to life, I could really visualise a piece forming.
Since I have been back from the first residency, I feel like a more versatile dancer, by learning new styles from other company members, and exploring new ways of dancing that I had never experienced. For example, I never thought that I would learn how to break dance, but I loved it. Although being back from such an intense week is difficult, I still find that I have kept routines, such as yoga every morning and keeping my thoughts fresh, writing them down after class. I am looking forward to the second residency and am ready to get back into an intense week once again.