Young Choreographers South West.

Last weekend I went to Bournemouth to attend the Young Choreographers South West two day course. The course consisted of numerous workshops by dance artists, performance artists and business enterprises to give an insight into all aspects of being and sustaining yourself as a choreographer. It was also a good opportunity to meet other like-minded people and to explore our different ways of creating work together.

We had a workshop by Dan Canham where he took us through various improvisational tasks and talked to us about how he would then layer on emotion or character to fit with the theme of the piece you are aiming to make. This way of creating is very different to how I normally make work, but it is something I am very interested in exploring further and developing in my own way.

We also had a talk from a magician who got us to think about different ways of drawing in a crowd when working in a street theatre environment. He spoke to us about motion, colour and sound, and how if you are in control of these things you can draw in an audience. It is not necessarily about being the loudest or the biggest, it’s about creating something interesting that draws in an audience and keeps them hooked – this could be the tiniest movement or even just a strong focal point.

We then had a business enterprise talk from a company called ‘Bigga Fish’ which was about networking and how to make a good impression. It was really interesting to hear the director of the company’s story and how he got to where he is now. He talked to us about how we could make our dance companies more like a business if funding was not a viable option, and how volunteering and doing things for free at the start of your career really pays off later on.

The workshop that had the biggest impact for me was taught by the performance artist Stacy Makishi. Right at the start of the workshop we had to do various exercises that made us feel uncomfortable and ridiculous – I think the point of this was so that anything we did later on felt easy and more natural. It was a real lesson in boundaries for me, becoming aware of my limitations and what I feel comfortable doing as a performer. Doing this workshop really made me aware of the fundamental restrictions I place on myself subconsciously, and then go on to question and challenge them. I think a continuation of working in this way would really enable me to eradicate my intrinsic limitations in what I want to perform and allow me the freedom to choose the rules for myself.

I also met some really lovely dancers and choreographers from across the South West, we all got on so well that the networking was made fun!