What a difference a week makes

Tuesday 15 November 2011, 14:07

Francesca Tortora Francesca Tortora

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The Byre Theatre in St Andrews, Fife is one of the recently announced winners of our Community Dance scheme. Their grant will allow them to offer a series of creative residencies led by professional choreographers to transform the group into a performance ensemble and to create three new pieces of work.

Lauren Bianchi - Education Officer at the Byre Theatre - tells us how the first week-long residency went.

"The aim of this first residency was to develop and raise the profile of dance throughout the region at youth dance level. Providing young dancers with the opportunity to work within a professional environment with a team of experienced artists proved to be a progressive and challenging creative experience.

We worked in partnership with Errol White Company during the week, a company that seeks to employ practitioners who are skilled in dance and performance, encouraging each of the performers to explore their own creative voices within the confines of the work whilst also providing opportunities for them to challenge their own artistic and creative practice.

Byre Theatre dance residency in action


My approach to working with young dancers is much the same as working with professional artists. Working in this way creates an opportunity for young emerging dancers to experience how physically engaging and exciting dance is to do and ultimately perform to an audience.

Throughout the residency week Davina Givan (Creative Director at Errol White Company), myself and interns Rebecca Cameron and Joanne Pirrie set out to give these young dancers a real taste of what it's like to be professional dancers. We presented them with the reality of what it takes physically and emotionally to achieve the level needed for a career in dance so that they are more able to make informed choices regarding their future. Having two interns who are at the beginning of their dance careers working with us also gave an extra dimension to this experience. Having finished their training, this internship is the next step for them to achieving a position within a professional company.

Dance is a tough profession and you need to be dedicated, hard working and focused to succeed, talent is just a small part of this equation. The group during the week proved to have all these attributes. They were responsible for their own bodies whilst taking care of each other.

With this dedication in mind we were inspired to create a piece of work during the week that was very demanding. The piece was created as a collaboration with the young dancers - they were asked to learn material, remember it and create their own material. The piece was performed on the last day showing the result of all the hard work.

The feedback from the audience was very supportive with most commenting on how the young dancers looked and presented the work like a company, and how much was achieved in just one week.

"My girls went to the dance workshop because they have studied dance for many years… They have been keen to further develop their contemporary dance skills and this intensive workshop seemed to provide an excellent opportunity to work with a well-known dancer and his team, and have a chance to perform at the end of the week. It was really enjoyable for both of them."
Parent of two of the participants.

I'm confident that the young dancers who have taken part in this residency will be proud of themselves and the work we created."

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The BBC Performing Arts Fund is a charity committed to developing new performing arts talent from across the UK. This blog provides the latest news on our grant-making, as well as tips and advice from experts in the business and updates on previous grant winners.

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