Isis Clunie

DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training Alumni
"I’ve lived in the East all of my life and DanceEast has played such an integral part in making me who I am – I’ve always taken their classes, even before they were at the Jerwood DanceHouse – and the CAT scheme has made my dance experience so much richer and has made me such a better dancer for it. I can’t explain how much it has changed how I think about Dance, it’s exposed me to so many opportunities and opened so many doors for me within the dance world. Not only do you get the week-in week-out, rigorous training and the commitment of wonderful tutors, but you get the opportunity every year and all the time to work with new and fresh artists. Not only that, it’s just such a wonderful place to go, as a young dancer, to have somewhere that you can be challenged and that you can believe in, where you are supported in the choices you make in becoming a young artist."

Q&A with Isis Clunie

What age did you join DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training (CAT)?

I joined when I was in Year 6 at primary school, so I was 10. At the time I was only doing weekly ballet lessons but wanted to do more, so the Centre for Advanced Training scheme was the perfect opportunity for me to explore contemporary.  

 

What is it like to be a DanceEast CAT student?

The CAT is a great place to develop and work on technique but also gain a wider understanding of the dance world. I think that there are so many different careers and ways of creating dance out there, but they’re not all necessarily well known, so being a CAT student has allowed me to be exposed to a wide range of performances and work with talented choreographers. These are always great and unique experiences for any young dancer to work at intensely, I have definitely learnt a lot about myself in these processes.

 

What is your favourite memory as a DanceEast CAT student so far? 

Working with Alex Whitley to create a piece was really memorable; Alex has such an interesting way of working with the music and how the movement correlates to different sounds, you had to be completely immersed in the movement each time you did it. We also created a duet based on the piece we devised with him to tour to different locations representing the DanceEast CAT to encourage others to audition. It was nice for me to represent something I’d been a part of for so long. 

 

As well as being a CAT student, you are also a National Youth Dance Company dancer (NYDC). What is it like to be part of NYDC?

NYDC is unlike any other dance education I’ve had. Although it’s not training as such, you are in actual fact part of a professional company and always learning. There’s also a huge strength to the company which you really feel as an individual, not just from the other dancers but also from the brilliant support team and artists. I’ve been part of NYDC for three years now and during this time choreographers have fundamentally changed how I think about dance and movement with each of their individual practises. These three years have not only taught me to enjoy the NYDC experience but also think about what dance means to me and what I could potentially do in the future as a professional dancer.

 

What has your experience been like as an NYDC dancer?

Working with Michael Keegan-Dolan, Damien Jalet and Sharon Eyal this year I have been extremely lucky to have been a part of all the three startling different companies. The choreographers have all brought with them an artistic team to help with the choreographic process and touring of the piece, but the way they create work is so different! In Michael’s piece we improvised solidly in the first week of meeting each other, which proved daunting as I was quite a young member of the company and was slightly more hesitant at putting ideas out there. But – a very significant ‘but’ – as the process went on it just became habit to throw ideas and material into the choreographic process. This was a very organic process, which resulted in a piece based on the individual dancers making up a company and celebrating that. Damien’s year was slightly different as the piece relied on us moving as one component and literally, listening to each other closely. I now actively recognise the feeling of running purely on adrenaline during the movement and thrive off that. With Tarantiseismic it was extremely hard to not be enveloped by the movement completely especially when you dance with so many others. However, this year couldn’t have been more different – it became a very personal experience for each dancer; the intensity and sheer devotion which the piece demanded from everyone manifested differently in each dancer, the memory of which, and feeling, will be different within each dancer.

 

How much of your CAT training has influenced you as a dancer at NYDC?

On a practical level, my CAT training has invariably saved me from injuries during the long rehearsal periods; you can never underestimate technical training! Also, the CAT Team really take time to make sure we’re prepared for any kind of audition and this knowledge really helped in the NYDC experience workshop. The CAT Team prepared me to make sure I had confidence in myself and how to work well with people you may have just met, and now I’ve graduated I can really see the value of the lessons the CAT teaches not only in the studio, interacting and communicating with people can never be underestimated.

 

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