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Work Experience Blog

My name is Jasmine and I am currently a 3rd year undergraduate from Bath Spa University studying Dance. As part of my studies I am required to engage in a week long work experience in the Dance industry to develop my skills as well as to gain knowledge of the Arts industry.

Being local to the area and having taught and performed there already, I have a strong connection to Pavilion Dance South West. I started my work experience on the 6th April 2014 and couldn’t have picked a better week!  It began with the Spring Cabaret; a performance showcasing the classes that Pavilion Dance offer during term time. I was completely chucked in at the deep end and appointed assistant stage manager. This was a great experience and enabled me to see the show from a backstage perspective rather than that of a performer. My career aspiration is to be a teacher so the more experience I can gain from behind the scenes work the better!

ChoreoLAB week was also new to me and this week was a chance for a selection of artists to use PDSW facilities to create and collaborate with other artists. It was a delight to meet the artists from Deaf Men Dancing as well as partners in crime Welly and Kate and new collaborators Rachel and Naomi.  This week my role was simply to learn and observe as well as help in the creative process, as best I could, before the sharing at the end of the week. The groups were all different in their approach to dance which was interesting for me as their style was not like anything I had witnessed or experience before.

The groups agreed at the beginning of the week to share warm-ups and learn each others’ different styles. One morning I sat in on a Deaf Men Dancing workshop which consisted of sign language and its development into dance. Seeing the language of signing integrated into dance was inspiring and I learnt how to ask someone their name as well as say my own name and part of the alphabet. Watching their work was also inspiring for an aspiring dance student like myself, their style was unique and their vision was clear with their use of signing through the movement.

In contrast Welly and Kate, whom have been good friends for many years, decided to choreograph together and an intensive week in Pavilion Dance was the perfect way to start! Welly and Kate’s vision was also simplistic but abstract; to incorporate their missing limbs to create something honest for themselves, rather than others’ vision of the dancing body without a limb.  This concept was also interesting to me and I was excited to view their artistic process as well as offer my services.

Kate and Welly wanted some documentation at the mid week stage and I was eager to help. The filming consisted of standing on the staircase looking down at the dance in a small gap between the wall and the stairwell. This gave me an insight into their creation process and I was grateful for the opportunity to offer my view on their artistic vision.

Rachel and Naomi’s piece was a mystery which would not be revealed until the sharing. Every time I went to offer my services or observe they seemed organised and well underway in their creative process. Other than requesting fourteen black and white chairs, their development was kept pretty private. I think that this was due to their collaboration being new which meant their artistic vision was somewhat less obvious and wasn’t pre-planned in advance. The piece they devised was a simplistic 5 hour live instillation and very different to anything else I had seen previously.   

The sharing at the end of the week was an amazing experience as it allowed the entire group to engage with each others work and listen to the experience of which the artist arrived to their final piece. Feedback was key for this session for the artists to gain constructive criticism as well as the ability to reflect on their aims at the beginning of the week.  Working with the artists was amazing as it gave me the opportunity to ask for their advice and knowledge of the industry as well as absorb their creative process.

Parkinson’s day:

I was given the opportunity to work with Pavilion Dance South West for their Parkinson’s day at the end of the week. PDSW offer a dance class once a week for people who suffer with Parkinson’s disease. The class focusses on alignment and posture as well as improving the kinaesthetic skills of the people involved. This was the most heart-warming day for me as I was tasked in taking photos all day. The day offered taster sessions of the dance class, singing classes as well as Tai Chi. Meeting the people involved in the day and the regulars to who go to classes was brilliant; being able to listen to their stories of how the class is a life line for them and has helped them overcome their illness.  It made me realise that dance isn’t just a hobby or a career path for everyone, for some people it’s a means of getting better and having a better quality of life. For me this was an important lesson to learn.

Overall this week has been very educational and I have loved working in an organisation and venue I have previously performed with. This is the most welcoming and friendly organisation I have had the pleasure to work for. This week has exposed me to different areas of dance I was previous ignorant towards and it has exposed me to the business side of dance. It’s given me more of an understanding of which career path I want to follow which is defiantly within the performing arts!

I would recommend that if you are interested in dance; either the business side of dance practice or if you are an aspiring artist, Pavilion Dance South West is one of the best venues of which to realise your potential.  Thanks Pavilion Dance!

Jazz x

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