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.