Learning ways of Choreographing How my choreographic journey has progressed with Attik.

Whenever the phrase “I would like you to choreograph a count of 8” is ushered in a dance space consisting of young people, the dancers in the room start to squeal and shrink away in horror. I used to be one of these young people a few years ago before I became a member of the Attik Youth Dance Company; before I had learnt that there are an infinite number of ways to “choreograph a count of 8”.
The thought of having ownership and a creative role over the material that I was performing used to really frighten me. This was probably because I was having to expose a part of myself that would be very rarely seen in the usual GCSE and Btec classes that I took. When ¾ of the time that you spend learning from your dance teachers is picking up material and only ¼ of the rest of the time is you choreographing in one specific way, when do you have the chance to really explore your creative self and ideas? There’s no wonder why most young dancers feel shy and sometimes embarrassed about their own material because of the lack of attention that there is to creating. When you are given no tools and no training in choreographing – or maybe taught only a little about dynamics and relationships – how do you start to choreograph?


When I began making dances in my little bedroom at the age of 13, I relied on the music. I used the music to tell me what I should move and how I should move. As time progressed and little Rachel got older, I started to think about how to represent imagery through movement. It wasn’t until I started to dance with Attik in 2012 that I really began playing around with dancing with ideas (and the fact that you don’t need music to dance. Yeah, that was a big shock for me at the time).


I came into Attik in September of 2012 with a very particular way of moving. Everything I danced was very stylized and controlled. It was Attik that taught me how to get out of my head and into my body. They showed me how I could let go, fall, stand still, simply walk and most importantly, take risks when choreographing. Ben talks more about taking risks here. At Attik, we’re always taught how to relearn, redo and reflect on what we’ve made to fully develop our ideas and ways of moving. I remember thinking this was quite strange when I had first started. I had never been asked about my ideas and what I wanted from my movement. I had always been told to make something from a stimulus, show the final product and not really do much else. There is so much room for self expression inside the Attik Youth Dance Company classes and not just for myself, but for the other dancers within the space. I find it fascinating to watch and listen to the ideas coming from the young people inside our classes. It really broadens my awareness of how much capacity our young dancers have to produce these interesting ways of moving.


I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with our young people in Attik Youth when creating my live art piece, “Circadian Rhythm”. It was a weird but enjoyable experience, transitioning from a fellow dancer to the choreographer in the space. It gave me a chance to pull out their unique qualities that I liked and experiment with giving them my ideas and seeing how they interpreted them into their movement. One of the things that I have learnt from choreographing Attik Youth, is how much discussion and deliberation there is when making. The dancers at Attik Youth always asked questions about why, how or what the task or idea I was giving them was about. This constant questioning and answering really helped me to reinforce my ideas and the final outcome of my art.


What I’ve taken away from working with Attik as an apprentice over this past year and over the many years as a member of Attik Youth, is that creating is an ever evolving process. It isn’t a line on a graph showing the progress of ideas from point A to B but is more like a map with new roads and paths being drawn on all the time. You can walk down a path with an idea and then maybe someone will suggest a way of moving or being that makes you turn left, taking you to a whole new place that contains constructs that you have been carrying with the whole time. Attik has really helped me become brave when pursuing my ideas; I feel that have I have become a real creative individual and I will be sorry to say goodbye to them when I leave them this year. Thank you.