With sadness and joy in my heart I am writing to say that I am leaving Attik Dance after four years! I joined the company after I had just graduated from Laban, a contemporary dance conservatoire in London. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do and how to use my skills. As a fledgling dance artist I went to to meet the infamous Australian dancer and director of Attik Dance, Ben Dunks. After an hour of talking with him I knew that I had found someone who would inspire me. I was delighted when Ben invited me aboard to run Attik Youth Dance Company with the challenge (there is always a challenge with Ben!) to re-think Youth Dance.
We began with a beautiful little youth company where I threw all sorts of mad and wonderful ways of creating through movement, improvisation and choreographic methods. Two of these members have stayed with the company right the way through to this year (check out our wonderful selfie in the picture above). One of them reminded me of the challenge I set them with their first ever performance; an entirely improvised score for four young dancers aged between 13-19 years. Nothing like this was being shown at the time in Plymouth. What bravery they showed on that evening. Every performance since has been different and a challenge to the youth dancers and they have risen to that challenge beautifully each time.
The company has been through many phases as I have worked to my brief of re-thinking Youth Dance which will form a part of Attik Dance’s symposium in the Autumn of 2016. I will be back to share my findings and methodology at the event. They are not just mine, as with everything at Attik Dance nothing is done in isolation, the methodology has developed through ongoing discussion and reflection with the team over the past four years.
It hasn’t just been Youth Dance, the next challenge came in the form of a project management role to design the English side of a cross-channel project with a dance company from Brittany, France. I am remember so clearly the moment in 2013, when I was reading an email over Ben’s shoulder in the office. A French dance company was proposing that Attik Dance could be a partner for the project, Ben wasn’t sure we had the man power to run it, so brash as ever, I said I would do it. Those may have been the busiest months of my life, but it was the first time I realised that the way we designed and led creative sessions was unique even on an international scale. The best part of the project was as we were generous with our skills, time and energy we saw real change in the lives of the kids that we worked with. This project was the beginning of the thinking behind our more recent projects, Fight Me and This is my State Today.
From there I have been guided and trained to lead dance in primary schools, mentor our apprentices to become the artists and dancers that they desired to be, administrate the company, perform in the company’s latest Research and Development project and be a part of the planning stages for many projects including the ones yet to come! This has truly been an incredible testimony to the leadership of Ben as he has gently pushed me from one phase to the next. This is something that I watch him doing with other members of staff, apprentices, local artists and work experience volunteers as he generously offers his expertise and time to us. Thank you Ben!!
I would also like to say a big thank you to all of the colleagues, artists, dancers, adults and children who I have worked with in my roles at Attik Dance. I have beautiful memories from village primary schools watching a child light up as I have asked them to show me their moves, their ideas. And of course, all of the young people who I have danced and created with, I see them on social media rocking at University or in some other adventure they have chosen for themselves.
What a beautiful adventure these last four years have been!