Ben, a 2021 Centre for Advanced Training Graduate – Photograph by Alicia Clarke
Many students at the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) are with us for a significant number of years, spending weekends and evenings together forming friendships for life and honing their craft. As we approach the CAT End of Year Show later this week, we wanted to spend a moment reflecting on the experiences of our graduates, bidding them a fond farewell as they head off on exciting new adventures.
Erin told us how much she has enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with such a range of people that she wouldn’t have met otherwise, with which Nicole agreed, saying that the CAT is a community that are ‘super supportive and always there for you’.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder saying goodbye will be such a challenge. Lottie told us…
I’ll really miss my Sundays at the CAT, sharing a space with so many like-minded, supportive people over the past few years has been great, especially when creating movement as a group.
Whilst we’ll be sad to see them go, there are so many wonderful memories that the students will take with them. From working with highly regarded dance artists to performing on professional stages, the CAT programme gives students a variety of opportunities. Erin told us how she’ll treasure the memory of working with critically acclaimed choreographer Richard Alston in 2019, then performing at the Theatre Royal Norwich as the opener to his company’s show. Likewise, Lottie will always remember performing at the Jerwood DanceHouse 10 Year Anniversary Gala alongside both professional artists and other youth groups.
Picture: The DanceEast CAT with Richard Alston Dance Company at the Jerwood DanceHouse
Richard Alston is just one example of the diverse range of professional artists the CAT students get to learn from here at DanceEast. By inviting guest tutors, we can provide a rounded training programme that exposes the students to countless forms of dance and methods of creating work. Erin’s favourite artist to work with was Joseph Toonga, who is an Associate Artist at DanceEast. The choreography was a fusion of contemporary and hip hop, something she’d never tried before, providing a challenge and the chance to explore a way of dancing that was far out of her comfort zone. Similarly, Ben loved working with Katie Green, a site-specific choreographer that created a piece with students based on the idea of caves.
Picture: The DanceEast CAT with Joseph Toonga at the Jerwood DanceHouse
Looking towards our graduates’ next steps, we’re so proud of the various paths they plan to take. Dance training equips young people with a range of transferable skills that can serve them whether or not they choose a career in dance. Erin, who is going to study International Relations & Spanish at university said her training has taught her how to be well-organised, learning dedication and commitment, and how to take constructive criticism. Nicole told us the programme has taught her to be herself.
It has given me a strong understanding of how everyone is individual and that’s what makes the CAT such a great place. I have been able to watch myself as well as everyone else around me grow into themselves.
Ben added that trusting himself was something that took a long time to learn, especially when doubting if he was physically able to do something. However, the support his teachers gave him to boost his confidence in this area was invaluable, allowing him to successfully audition for Bird College, to study for a Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre. He said he’ll never forget the overwhelming support and joy he felt from his teachers, he really felt like they were proud of him, and it has given him so much motivation for the future.
Looking back on their years at DanceEast, our graduates have offered a few gems of advice to the new cohort who will be joining us in September. Mostly, the graduates stressed how important it is to push yourself, opening your mind to new styles and ways of working. Nicole told us this needn’t be scary, ‘you never know what different things you might enjoy!’. Ben agreed, once again summing up everyone’s thoughts in a few words…’Just go for it’.
As we say goodbye for now, these are exactly the words that we hope to echo back to the 2021. We wish them all the best of luck in their next endeavours at university, Bird College, Performers College and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Along with all our other students, Nicole, Erin, Lottie and Ben will be performing at our end of year show on Sat 31 July 2021 at Christchurch Park. Tickets are unfortunately now sold out but head over to our Facebook, YouTube or website pages where we will be premiering our students’ digital work from the Spring Intensive, with a new piece going live every day.
You can find out more about the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training by clicking here.