A step into the National Youth Dance Company’s world…

A step into the National Youth Dance Company’s world…

Last week we heard from Katie Hewison, a student and young choreographer at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, about an exciting dance project that’s happening with young people in Leeds, as part of an on-going series of blogposts.

Yorkshire Dance’s Dance Whispers is a five day summer school delivered by Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) in the final week of July, featuring a daily contemporary dance technique class, followed by a variation of contact work, repertory, improvisation within creative sessions.

Here’s Katie dairy entry from the 29 March, at the project’s second meeting….

Dancers get together to explore 'frames'

Dancers get together to explore the ‘frames’

Dance Whisperer’s all made it eagerly and early to Leeds, Hull and Doncaster Station ready to begin our train journey to London for a very exciting day, despite the change of clocks!

Arriving at Sadler’s Wells, we stood outside in the rain wondering how to get into the building – Wayne, one of the group, of course used it as great opportunity to take a group photo! We completely missed the ‘welcome dance whispers’ sign leading us in the right direction into the building, the sign was the first of many lovely friendly welcomes by NYDC. Hannah Kirkpatrick, Company Manager looked after us so kindly for the whole day and introduced us to our perfectly matched NYDC buddies.

I met Folu Odimayo who is in his second year of NYDC and is going to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance next year, it was lovely to get to know each other and share experiences, it is amazing how dance world is such a small world! Within a minute of meeting each other, we had so much to share – it was amazing how many shared connections we already had from friends and classmates.

Folu gave me his personal insight into the incredible experience with the NYDC, their hard work and rehearsals with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and rehearsal directors and how they balance NYDC with auditions, school work and life! We were all given such a friendly welcome, I felt a part of the NYDC family for the day, so I can just imagine the support and progression the young individuals make across the year with such an inspiring, close knit group of people.

Tim Casson and Hannah, both from Yorkshire, explained NYDC’s values, experiences and what they get up to during their residencies. The dancers learn such wide, versatile experiences through their work in the studio during the day and also in tool box sessions during an evening; creating connections and experiences which are so important to take into whatever they do next after NYDC. One thing we picked up on during the day is the importance of reflection, taking time in a busy day to spend 10minutes to simply write your thoughts down in your  notebook. NYDC’s values are inspiring and I love that they are excited by difference – which is something that echoes through their work.

Sneaky Peak….

I felt so privileged that we were allowed to watch NYDC in their rehearsal environment. We had a wonderful chance to watch the company do a rehearsal run of the piece in costume. The rehearsal directors explained that they hope we felt included and a part of the run, even though we were watching from the seats above the studio, rather than on the dancer’s level, so we could see the piece as a whole picture or ‘Frame,’ giving us a perspective from above, or as an ‘outside view’ to be inspired from!

This in itself really inspired me, even though the run hadn’t even begun! Intriguingly, during Day One at Yorkshire dance I was exploring through my movement the idea of perspectives – with the impact of the frames used in NYDC’s huge height and space during the piece. Exploring the perspective inside a frame, or onstage for the dancers in contrast to the perspective just outside of the frame for the dancers, and from an audience point of view. How you look at a piece of art, the angle, view point and perspective within or outside of its frame changes everything!

Seeing NYDC in rehearsal I was inspired in so many ways. It was only a few days into their residency and they performed such a powerful piece. It is a credit to them, to their hard work and their professionalism every single day.  Inspired by the sneak preview, I have written so much in my notebook, with so many ideas I don’t think I could write them all down on this.

We ended our day at Sadler’s Wells with a workshop from Tim. Learning some of NYDC’s Frame[d] rep it was such a great way to experience the movement style and rehearsal process. We learnt a gestural phrase which was incredibly detailed and intricate which we recognised being performed earlier by NYDC in the run, with clarity and calmness which gave a very powerful performance. It looked simple and effective yet it was so complex, being performed with a sense of ease and calmness in unison, it is so fierce!

We had the chance to create our own phrases and then develop them to create a little duet. Whilst creating these I noticed some very valuable skills as a choreographer. Watching Tim, observe and notice things we were doing in the space, he gave us suggestions, which sometimes were the tiniest of things, but it brought our attention to them. This makes the performer notice, for ourselves, the intention or clarity in that movement or moment in space. As a choreographer it is important to pick out these moments so that they don’t just happen by coincidence but they are clear choreographic intentions so that the magic moments happen again and again stronger with each performance. They may seem tiny to notice, but they make such a huge difference to performance and the audience’s perspective.

NYDC were so welcoming, we have all learnt so much and are very grateful for letting us into their rehearsal process. I wish them all the best of luck and energy for the rest of their rehearsals and their premier on the 10th April! We are all very excited to see you again on the big performance day!

Good Luck!

A big thanks to Katie for sharing the beginning of her Dance Whispers journey!

 You can learn more about the project here, and follow the Northern School of Contemporary Dance on Twitter @NorthernSchool.

Are you involved in an exciting summer school project? Are you using dance to engage young people? Why not let us know by leaving a comment below…



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  1. […] the past few weeks we’ve been hearing from Katie Hewison, a students and young choreographer at the Northern […]

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