Left: Maya performing in the DanceEast CAT End of Year Show 2019, in The History Of..by Sarah Blanc
Right: Maya performing in the DanceEast CAT End of Year Show 2019, in Fierce and Free by Uchenna Dance
Photos by Rachel Cherry
Maya is a current student with the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training (CAT). We asked Maya more about herself, her inspirations, and how she’s finding digital dance classes.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Maya Inniss and i’m 15 yrs old.
I’ve been part of the DanceEast CAT for 3 years now. I’ve been dancing since I was about 8 and have loved every minute of it! I used to dance with a performance company called Jumpstart where I discovered how much I enjoyed performing. Later, I started dancing at DanceEast and after a year doing Suffolk Juniors, I auditioned and got into the CAT and now I’m in group 2.
What is something you are passionate about?
I am most passionate about dancing – feeling free to move in different ways and express myself. It helps me find a confidence I don’t always have. When I first joined the CAT I was very quiet and reserved however, they helped me grow in confidence through dancing because I enjoy it!
I’ve also enjoyed drawing and painting since a young age, which I now try to do outside of school but struggle with time. I do it because I find it relaxing and therapeutic but also because I like to mess around with paints and materials to create something interesting and new. It’s like improvising in dance, I love to just move in different ways to have fun and create something.
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
For me, Michaela DePrince is someone I find very inspirational. I read her book ‘Hope in a ballet shoe’ a while back and her story amazed me! She survived through war at a young age, holding on to her last hope of finding somewhere safe to live and becoming a ballerina, and eventually she lived up to her dream and achieved it. Now she does so much to encourage young black girls to pursue ballet and dance and gives someone for them to look up to who proves they can do their passion too. She has worked so hard to get to where she is now, and it inspires me to do the same, even if I don’t necessarily want to pursue ballet in the future. She made me realise that beyond everything, there is always hope for the future.
What’s your favourite thing about being on the CAT?
The amount of opportunities you are given! You get to work with well-known choreographers during workshops, Easter and summer intensives and these are amazing, enjoyable experiences. In my first year we worked with Jasmin Vardimon Company and it’s an experience I will never forget; I got pushed to work as well as I could, and it gives you an idea of what it’s like in the professional world of dance.
Also, the amount of support you get from teachers and students; you will become close as a group and that’s something I really like about the CAT. They have helped me to develop and improve my skills as a dancer so much.
What’s your number one tip for keeping your dance practice at home?
I think it’s really important to find inspiration to keep you motivated. Being stuck in the house, for me anyway, has brought down my motivation and I’m not as productive as I was when life was normal. But sometimes you just need to get up, find some space, put on some music and dance. Just to keep your energy up, if you’re feeling down or unmotivated, do this. It helps!
As for technique, I’ve been doing the CAT online classes and it’s good to have some sort of routine even if it’s vague. For example, at least make sure you take a certain number of classes per week and doing some strengthening or stretching to keep your body in good health. It’s good to take this time to practice something you usually struggle with or something new you want to try, like for me, pirouettes.
How have you been finding the digital dance classes?
I’ve been finding them helpful! It’s difficult to keep going as normal at a time like this, but whether you only have a small amount of space or lots of it, the online classes are flexible for you to do anywhere in the house! I don’t have that much space, but I’ve been managing and doing other classes as well as the CAT ones. I think the warm-up and cool down videos are quite useful as you can do those alongside any other class you would like to do.
How have you been keeping creative during isolation?
Like I mentioned before, I’ve been doing dance classes as well as just putting on some music and improvising, because it helps me be more creative and I find it fun to do when I’m bored or feeling down. I’ve also been drawing and doing small watercolour paintings to get back into art because I was so busy with schoolwork and dance classes that I didn’t find time to do things outside of school that I used to do more often.
Another thing is I’ve been reading a lot more which I admittedly dropped a bit when I had other things to do. It’s really nice to get back into other things, as for me (and probably others) in year 11, life was becoming hectic with less time to do stuff, to relax, and have fun. So although I can’t see my friends, I’m doing what I can to relax and be happy at home.
As well as dance and art, I’ve been baking too! I admit I’m not the best at cooking but now that I have time I might as well bake some good food! It’s a good thing to do especially baking food that don’t require many ingredients, plus – who doesn’t love food?
Who is your favourite social media influencer or page for inspiration?
I like Kaycee Rice‘s Instagram (@kayceericeofficial), it’s not completely focused on quarantine inspiration but she’s posted some videos giving ideas of what to do when stuck inside and how to find inspiration during a time like this which are helpful! Also, her dance videos are inspiring to me, I think she’s an amazing dancer and has been an inspiration to me, as well as Sean Lew (@seanlew).
I would also like to say I hope everyone reading this is safe and well, that we will get through this happy and healthy and it’ll be okay!