A week of workshops run by internationally-recognised dance companies

24 Jan 2018
Students dancing in a studio

Going back to Uni after Christmas can be hard. Don’t get me wrong I love my course and always look forward to getting back into the studios, but leaving my family, my dogs and all of home’s comforts is never fun! Not to mention the terror when I realise I’m halfway through my degree and I’m going back to my very wonderful, but VERY physical technique classes after eating probably twice my bodyweight in chocolate over the past four weeks. The post-Christmas fear is real and can get on top of you if you let it.

This year UOW Choreography and Dance offered something a little different to ease us into 2018. Rather than jumping straight back into normal classes, semester two, week one was packed full of workshops aimed at helping us through the ‘post-Christmas’ fear.

Girl dancing

We began the week with Laura and Chris from Stopgap Dance Company, showing us how to work through/with our limitations. For me, this was something completely different to what I was used to. We were posed with limitations in group work and forced to think differently about our movements, abilities and dynamics. It really proved to me that rather than trying to cover up or hide the things we struggle with, we can embrace them and come up with something much more visually interesting!

These people were also incredibly inspirational and the things they have achieved individually and with Stopgap just blew me away!

One of the highlights of the week for me was Tuesday’s resilience workshop with Elsa Urmston. It was nice to hear that realistically everyone has those moments where they feel like they’re a little bit lost or not good enough. Through a few choreographic tasks Elsa highlighted how, even though we might not realise it, we are all resilient. We face challenges every single day. Believe it or not, we do survive the hard times, and often we come out of them a better, stronger dancer and person. Something that will stick with me from this workshop is to strive towards perfection, rather than aiming to be perfect. We’re on a learning journey, and the trick is to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and progressing with each step.

Class dancing in a studio

So, by this point in the week, I am feeling super motivated and inspired. Semester 2 and whispers of final year are seeming a little less scary and a little more exciting.

We then spent the next two days in workshops with our end of year show intensive options, Lila Dance and Avant Garde Dance Company. If you don’t know who these companies are, definitely have a look at their work! These workshops were insane. The company members are literally oozing positivity and passion, you really can’t help but feel the same. Lila Dance focused on partner work, dynamics and articulation. Making you stop and think about the details of every movement in a new way. Whilst, Avant Garde focused on strength, timing and a fusion of contemporary and hip-hop. Avant Garde also emphasised dynamics in everything. The choreo we learned in both was so fun whilst being seriously physically demanding. In these workshops, dripping with sweat and red-faced, I realised that there is nothing else that makes me feel the way working hard in a studio does. We finished the workshops with a Q&A with the company members and Avant Garde’s founder Tony Adigun. It was so great to hear from professionals who are in the industry and succeeding.

Students dancing in a group

Heading into Semester 2, this past week has completely refocused and reminded me why I want to be here. I know there will be challenges to come but I feel like I am more equipped to face them. I am ready to work hard and strive towards perfection!

About the author

Orla Connolly - BA (Hons) Choreography and Dance

Keep up to date with our dance students on Instagram: @Winchester_Dance

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