Last year I was selected to join the Overture programme run by New Adventures. The programme is a personal and professional development programme for dance artists working in community dance. The group was comprised of artists working all over the count meeting for 4 weekends over the year to share space, knowledge and participate in workshops delivered by a variety of established artists. Artist we worked with over the course of the programme include:
Tom Jackson Greeves
Unfortunately I was unable to attend one of the weekends due to other commitments with a company I was performing with so missed working with Stop Gap, Vicki Igbokwe and Lila Dance. These artists were so varied, both in the way they work and who they work with. We were able to share their practice, asking questions and being a participant.
The final weekend we also did a practice share between the artists on the programme, so we got an insight into each others practice. A few shared their practice working with adultus which was particularly insightful for me as I have just taken on a mature movers class and have been struggling with what level to set the class at and how to bring some creativity in to the class when a lot of the participants are resistant to it. We spoke about grounding movements and teaching a few steps which the participants can then combine in whichever order they would like. We also spoke about the value of teaching choreography and how that is an ok practice and just as valued as a more creative practice.
We also looked at working with early years, something I haven’t done before and in to primary and and secondary school age. Someone shared a task embodying a monster. I thought this was fantastic as it used both physicality and imagination, it was also a lot of fun!
They key thing we were thinking about as we went through the practice share was ‘what makes a great community dance artist?’. We would write notes, words, on sticky notes after each sharing and stuck them to the wall (please see the photo below). What was interesting on reflection was that no matter what group we are working with we each all embodied everything that came up.
A number of key things came up over the year, especially as my practice developed. At the beginning I felt like a bit of a fraud as I want to make dance as well as working in the community, where as a lot of the others are focussing solely on their community practice. As the programme went on, and after speak on a couple of occasions with Tom, I realised that this was ok. One of the first things that came up in the programme was about who you can be a community dance practitioner and an artists. They are not mutually exclusive. This was really good to hear and discuss as I was starting to feel that I wasn’t an artist in my sessions I was facilitating, but this new thought or new way of thinking has given me almost a permission to be an artist in my sessions and use the same creativity I would use in my dance making.
During the programme I also started my Masters which was a big shift in my focus. To be honest, the programme gave me the push and more of an idea of what I wanted out of a masters programme and I now feel I chose the right one for me. It has also helped me to gain an understanding of the type of work I want to create. I love working with communities so why wouldn’t I include them in my work? Overture has also given me more confidence in my work. Having the support of a group of other artists and knowing that I can apply for funding and my ideas for projects could, if I wanted them to be, be bigger than I was thinking. In my head they were just little project with no funding but when I spoke about them the rest of my cohort were so encouraging and pushed me to look bigger. So, now I have a project idea that is forming quite clearly, that I want to apply for funding for and I know I have the support of the cohort to be able to do this.
Overall, I am so grateful for this opportunity and thankful for the rest of my cohort for coming on this journey. I am looking forward to seeing how each of us develop and are able to continue to support each other.