As I write this post, I am currently on my third-year, studying BA Hons Dance at De Montfort University (DMU). Before starting my course, I used to think that university is the next step from A Levels to achieve grades. However, as I began to progress further into my studies at DMU, I have realised that, this was not the case. Sure, I am assessed by the work that I produce and I am given a grade at the end of it but is that really all that matters? I get so worked up thinking about the percentage that I receive from my feedback. Then suddenly, amidst my second year, I hit a brick wall. A spanking blow of reality check. I was so concerned about being the best in my class that I slowly started to forget about what I was learning. This brick wall. For me to get out of this mind-set, I sat there for a while. Re-evaluating why I came to university. Slowly but surely, the puzzle began to piece itself. Peers, lecturers, and friends guided me and are continually doing so to remind me what I really want to do. I am passionate about wanting to perform. With that, I began to question myself. Why do I want to perform? What path shall I take to get me to where I need to be? What skills do I need to take that confident step forward in developing myself as a dance artist?
During my time at DMU, I have taken numerous training opportunities and experiences that have helped me develop as a dance artist thus far. Experiences that I wouldn’t have thought would allow me to deepen my understanding and knowledge of what it takes to be an artist/performer, but in truth they have. For example, this experience of writing a blog post now:
I am currently doing a placement with Serendipity – an arts/dance organisation based in Leicester. My role within the company is to assist in the promotion of the educational courses which Serendipity provides to increase the engagement of dance within the region and national. And in the previous year, I have undertaken an Artist Liaison role within Serendipity for Cameron McKinney – a visiting American choreographer/ founder of Kizuna Dance, based in New York. Before coming to university; I had zero knowledge in the business management of the arts sector. Addressing this issue of the unknown has given me plenty opportunities to get my hands dirty. One of the key advice that I was given is to ask questions. To this day, I am still hesitant at asking questions but when I do, I am getting answers. Answers that expand my knowledge. Answers that continue to advance my practice in becoming a thinker, a dance artist with a businessman’s hat per se.
I have also engaged in plenty of workshops and residencies with internationally acclaimed choreographers/artists such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar – Urban Bush Women, Henri Oguike, Cameron McKinney, BalletBoyz, and 2Faced Dance Company to name a few. Opening my horizons to different processes and viewpoints from these choreographers, I continue to soak in different approaches to movement. I am gradually developing a unique flavour of a movement language that is unique to my own body. These training opportunities provide me with skills whilst bringing me that much closer to developing the foundation of my practice; my own choreographic voice. Consistency is also key. Making my face familiar to these choreographers allows me to exchange knowledge with them whilst expanding my circle of networks. After all, each one of them has gone through the same or similar experiences as i am going through. I am just following their footsteps.
Performing is what I want to do. So, it is only right to find performative experiences when and where I can. I have been involved in numerous performance opportunities within DMU such as the Chancellor’s inauguration in January 2016, and performing for this year at the Graduation Ceremony January 2017. I am also currently a dance apprentice for a Leicester based company – Fuelled Dance Theatre. And, this upcoming May 2017, my solo work Sekseneutraal, has been selected for Serendipity’s annual festival Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2017 – a platform for national and international artists to showcase their work. These performances are only a few from the bucket of performances that I have been involved in. That’s not to say that I am bragging about them but these experiences have improved my performative quality and are continually boosting my confidence as a dancer/artist.
After reading this, you may think that I sound like a veteran but the truth is, I have much more to learn. The best advice I can give to you, my readers, is to do it for yourself. You are the curator to your own career and it is only your right to open up the possibilities that you can for the development of your career. As of now, I am thinking about where is the next place that can challenge me, support me, and develop me as a growing dance artist.