Emily Thompson-Smith, Rehearsal Director of Dorset Youth Dance, has had a rich career in dance and performed for world class dance companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Aletta Collins and Gary Clarke Company. Here are Emily’s ambitions for the company and her plans for 2024:
Q: What have been your most exciting opportunities during your dancing career and why?
I’ve been a professional dancer for over 12 years now and I have to say…. What an adventure! You can go from dancing with a live orchestra (and fabulous wig) in an Opera, chasing Tom Cruise around as a Zombie in a Hollywood feature film, dancing on a runway at London Fashion Week to a stadium for 50,000 people!
For me touring with a show I love has always been a highlight. It’s amazing to be part of a company where the environment is really supportive and everyone is really passionate about the art that you’re producing. A personal highlight was Wasteland with Gary Clarke Company where I got to rave onstage across the UK with some amazing performers and creatives for 5 years!
Another highlight is having creative input into productions and seeing your ideas come alive on stage in front of you! I was movement director for Hamlet at The National Theatre in 2022 with an amazing cast of actors and collaborators and getting to watch my work on such a renowned stage was incredible!
Q: What are your ambitions and plans for Dorset Youth Dance over the next year?
This year at DYD we have lots of new and exciting opportunities as well as a brand new home at the YMCA in Dorchester! We have some exciting performance opportunities at Origins Youth Dance Platform at Pavilion Dance and Street in the Park. We’ll be creating brand new work for both so the studio is going to be buzzing with creativity and ideas during our upcoming rehearsals. We’re hoping to meet new dancers to bring into the company and give lots more young performers a platform to develop and showcase their skills. In the future I’m also hoping to bring some exciting artists from the industry in to work with the dancers and introduce them to some fusion dance styles and new ways of moving.
Q: How do you remove barriers that might stop young people joining DYD?
In my experience, a lot of people are intimidated by the word ‘dance’ and immediately think of really technical styles like ballet. At DYD we do contemporary dance, which although has technical elements that we master, it really celebrates individuality! Contemporary dance is fun and can be accessible to all!
Contemporary dance focuses on expressing yourself and being creative with your own individual flair. We do a lot of creative exercises at DYD that allow you find your voice as a dancer and creative. One thing that I’ve loved over my years as a dancer is working with people who move in a completely different way to me and being inspired by everyone’s own styles and differences.
Q: Why do you think dance is such a great form of expression for young people even if they have no aspirations to be a dancer?
Working with so many young people over the years, I’ve started to see dance as a superpower! Dance can help young people gain confidence and resilience plus it really empowers them to connect with their body in a healthy and creative way. There are so many transferable skills that young people gain from dancing that will stay with them as they navigate their way through life…as well as the most important thing… that dancing is a really fun and joyful thing to do!
Q: How has dance changed your life?
Through dance I’ve met so many incredible people from all walks of life and seen how dance can bring so many different people joy and empowerment!
If you would like to read more about Emily Thompson-Smith and Dorset Youth Dance click here: https://activateperformingarts.org.uk/take-part/dorset-youth-dance/
If you would like to take part in DYD then please click on this link: https://activateperformingarts.org.uk/take-part/dorset-youth-dance/
Image Credit: Emily Thompson-Smith