In this short series, we hear from previous Dorset Youth Dance Company dancers about their experience with the Company. Activate is the managing organisation of Dorset Youth Dance (DYD), an unincorporated organisation steered by a group of experts in the field. It was founded in 1998 to provide, improve and maintain education in the art of dance for young people in Dorset. It launched as Fish Tank, then later renamed Portrait in 2007, a youth dance company recognised by Dorset’s art and cultural industry and beyond, for the quality of its work and the opportunities it offers gifted and talented dancers aged 14-21. Portrait re-launched as Dorset Youth Dance Company (DYD) in September 2016, with progressive feeder and company classes, followed by a creative class for 7-11 year olds in May 2018. Since then DYD have had the opportunity to perform in U-Dance South West and PDSW’s Origins, and have worked with highly regarded artists from Motionhouse and Alleyne Dance.
Since the company re-launched, several young people have followed in the footsteps of previous company members and have gone on to study dance and choreography at Higher Education. Recently, company members have been accepted to Universities and conservatoires such as Laban, Chichester and Falmouth. We recently caught up with previous DYD Company dancer, Gloriana Davies, to find out what she's up to now and how her experience with DYD has impacted on her dance journey. Here's Gloriana's story.
When and why did you originally audition to be a part of Dorset Youth Dance Company?
I auditioned for DYD in September 2016 because I had been looking to gain more experience in contemporary dance. My tutor at college at the time, Michaela Shaw, was involved with Activate and she told me about the opportunity and encouraged me to audition. I was really happy to be accepted as part of the company because it meant I would have a lot of opportunities to perform with the group in different venues for different events. I was preparing to start applying to universities when I auditioned, so I knew this performance experience would be really valuable for that.
Do you have a particular memorable moment or experience from your time with DYD?
I have so many great memories from DYD, mostly of really silly jokes between Claire (Artistic Director) and the rest of us! The first competition we took part in (U-Dance South West) was a really special experience because of all the workshops we got to participate in before the performance and also because of the sense of comradery within our group that came from competing and knowing there was more to this performance than just performing. I had never experienced anything like that day before, so it was really special. I also loved the performance and rehearsals we had with Steve Johnstone’s company for a curtain raiser for 'Folklore'. I had done a few things like that before, but this was a really nice experience because we all got along with Steve really well and I think it was the first thing we as a group had done that wasn’t just for Activate, so it felt a bit more professional and exciting.
Is there a key learning from DYD that you’ll carry with you and use/remember?
Very early in my time with DYD I remember Claire talking to me about how to effectively step out of your comfort zone. She said that it’s hard to be really creative when you stay in the green in your comfort zone because you’re not pushing yourself, but if you step too far out too quickly you’ll end up in a red zone where you’re too panicked to be creative, so it’s important to find that orange zone in the middle. She also talked about how it’s okay if you have to go back to the green occasionally in order to avoid slipping into the red. I found that last point particularly helpful and really the whole red/orange/green metaphor is a good way of regulating the stress and frustration that comes about quite a lot when trying to be creative and try new things.
What are you up to now? Did DYD help you on this journey?
Right now I’m in my final year of a dance degree at Bath Spa University. I definitely think DYD helped me get here. It was obviously a really great thing to put on my application and the technical and performance skills I gained from being part of the company helped me in my audition and beyond. I also think my experience with DYD was really good for teaching me how to be part of ensemble and it kick started the kind of creative thinking I needed for university. The ideas behind the dances were more conceptual and the process involved a lot more play and experimentation than I was used to, which was invaluable for preparing me for what would be expected of me in university. As part of my course I recently had to apply for a placement with a youth dance company in Bristol. Of course, I mentioned my time with DYD in the application and I think the appreciation I showed for youth dance companies as an institution definitely helped me secure that placement.
For more information about Dorset Youth Dance Company & how to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.